The Machine Starts • 2015 • Near Future novelette by Greg Bear


A story about quantum computing, Gödel’s mathematical theories, and multiuniverses. Quantum computing isn’t exactly a new thing – the first real implementations were demonstrated some 15 years ago, and it is slowly improving, manifesting in Microsoft or Google experiments with 512bit Qcomputers and the NSA investing heavily in it.

The author plays around with some unorthodox corners of quantum computing, leading to spooky results, and a nice ending. Not much of a character study, plot, or technically new elements you haven’t seen before. For geeks like me, it is a very likeable, technical story. Greg Bear knows this stuff from several years consulting at Microsoft research, so I trust his facts are correct.

The title reminded me instantly of Forster’s The Machine Stops from 1909 – you should really read that, maybe in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two, or online.


Meta: isfdb. This novelette was published by Microsoft 2015 within the anthology Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft. That anthology is freely available.

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