back to article Stephen King, William Gibson and The Quantum Moment

El Reg bookworms Lucy Orr and Mark Diston look at publishing's finest in scary and science fiction along with scientific uncertainties. Back on form are Stephen King with his latest spine tingler and William Gibson with a brain-teasing tale. Meanwhile physicists Robert P Crease and Alfred Scharff Goldhaber set about proving that …

  1. unitron

    If you want to feel cheated by King...

    ...just pay good money for a copy of "The Colorado Kid"

    (Looking on the bright side, the lack of an ending made it totally unsuitable for being turned into a movie or television show, which meant that it was able to provide the very barest of bones on which they were able to build the TV show "Haven" without being particularly constrained by the book.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you want to feel cheated by King...

      Well Under The Dome isn't constrained by the Stephen King book it was based on, either * :-).

      * Rather it is constrained by how long the producers could string the audience along, in a lost-like manner. Pity, because The Dome did actually have a beginning, a middle, and a nice, dark ending.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: If you want to feel cheated by King...

        I've always held that King simply can't write endings. I'm a huge fan but even his best books - even the 8 volume Dark Tower epic - either tail off or basically end with "The End?"

        Speaking of TV adaptations, "Storm of the Century" was a great mini-series that never got massive publicity. I don't know if it was a book too but it's classic King, AND fits the TV very well. I only ever watched it on Chinese VCD!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a good batch

    Hopefully King really is back on form, I'm afraid I gave up on him a long time back but I'll make to have a look at this in the bookshop to see.

    Great news to hear Gibson is back with a strong one too. The last one I read was "Spook Country" and while I enjoyed reading it, I haven't read it again since, which is not a good sign (and I couldn't make up my mind whether all the constant branding throughout was ironic or misguided). I have to say from reading the article that I'm wondering if PSTD is a typo or something that you catch from "The Peripheral"? Might need to wear gloves reading this one! :-)

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Sounds like a good batch

      The thing about King is that even if you only like 10% of his books, that's still about 5x more than most authors write in total.

      I had found more recent stuff a little tired (Duma Key) but Under The Dome was proper King to me - long, slow but somehow gripping regardless.

  3. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

    Well thats two for the christmas list

    shame about the Stephens King one.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    ”The theory cannot be expressed pictorially and mere words mean nothing” (Heisenberg)

    A those nuggets of the wise ancients, like alchemical musings they are. Just add mandragore.


    Quantum Picturalism

    The quantum mechanical formalism doesn't support our intuition, nor does it elucidate the key concepts that govern the behaviour of the entities that are subject to the laws of quantum physics. The arrays of complex numbers are kin to the arrays of 0s and 1s of the early days of computer programming practice. In this review we present steps towards a diagrammatic `high-level' alternative for the Hilbert space formalism, one which appeals to our intuition. It allows for intuitive reasoning about interacting quantum systems, and trivialises many otherwise involved and tedious computations. It clearly exposes limitations such as the no-cloning theorem, and phenomena such as quantum teleportation. As a logic, it supports `automation'. It allows for a wider variety of underlying theories, and can be easily modified, having the potential to provide the required step-stone towards a deeper conceptual understanding of quantum theory, as well as its unification with other physical theories. Specific applications discussed here are purely diagrammatic proofs of several quantum computational schemes, as well as an analysis of the structural origin of quantum non-locality. The underlying mathematical foundation of this high-level diagrammatic formalism relies on so-called monoidal categories, a product of a fairly recent development in mathematics. These monoidal categories do not only provide a natural foundation for physical theories, but also for proof theory, logic, programming languages, biology, cooking, ... The challenge is to discover the necessary additional pieces of structure that allow us to predict genuine quantum phenomena.

    And also:

    ”Cultural anxieties during 1920s Germany were ultimately the reason why the founders of Quantum Mechanics placed randomness at the centre of their theory”.

    This bodes well for new advances in the early 21st century, where permanent observation, economic and cultural upheavals and the death throes of the american empire are sure to lead to new metaphors.

  5. Marcus Aurelius

    The Standard Model but with added Cthulhu

    I thought "added Cthulhu" was called "Quantum Mechanics"

  6. Valeyard

    I saw "books", "quantum"

    and initially thought we'd be treated to a take on hannu rajaniemi's quantum thief series

    now that's some quality reading

  7. Michael Hawkes


    Years ago, whenever I felt like re-reading a Neal Stephenson novel, I would pick up Snow Crash or The Diamond Age. After Anathem came out, that became my go-to Stephenson book. There are so many concepts in it, I discover something new every time I read it.

    1. Ashton Black

      Re: Anathem

      Indeed. It's not as immediate nor as fast paced as SC or TDA, but I also enjoy it immensely on re-reading.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Stephen king and no Family Guy link?

    Apologies for the quality. Nothing to do with me.

  9. Joefish

    The problem I see with Stephen King

    is he has his fans, and they keep buying his books, and they seem to like them getting longer each time, wrapped in the minutiae of revisiting the same settings under different circumstances over and over. For anyone who wants to dip in occasionally, or anyone new, the latest tomes come across as great turgid doorstops.

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