Top positive review
Gambling with the Quantum McGuffin
Reviewed in the United States on March 22, 2020
Alfred Hitchcock loved McGuffins – those secrets, treasures or “things” everybody is after and will do anything to get. But you never precisely know what they are. They just get the plot rolling.
Judging from his 2019 short story, “Randomize”, part of the Amazon Forward Collection, I’d say Andy Weir likes McGuffins, too, though more of the microphysics kind. When challenged to illustrate how technology might impact mankind, the author choose quantum computing as his point of departure.
Set in the near future, Edwin Rutledge, manager of the Babylon Hotel and Casino, one of the multitude along the Las Vegas Strip, is competitive, proud and wary of his earned but possibly fleeting success. His latest foray is a Keno numbers generator based on the new capabilities of quantum computing.
In another part of town a very smart couple, Prashant and Sumi Singh, are planning a modern heist by taking advantage of a loop hole (worm hole, if you prefer) in the latest random numbers generator, QuanaTech 707, supporting Keno drawings. And wouldn’t you know it - he has just sold the technology package to the Babylon.
The premise for the theft is quantum entanglement – basically, the ability of electrons to mirror each other’s behavior at the quantum level even though separated, though nobody's sure why or how. Yes, the modern McGuffin.
Despite this micro world twist the tale turns more on human psychology for its suspense and development than technology. While consistent with what I know of his writing – albeit very limited – the story seems more conventional than others in this Collection. The technology is more of an accessory, not forcing humans to respond too differently to its impact.
That said, ‘Randomize” is worth taking a chance for a fun, easy read.
(If interested, here are links to my Amazon reviews for other Forward Collection short stories:
Amor Towles’ “You Have Arrived at your Destination”:
Veronica Roth’s “Ark”: https://www.amazon.com/review/R1BH20S06203HK/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8
Paul Tremblay’s “The Last Conversation”: https://www.amazon.com/review/R2Q3HWY0SCW9R5/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8
Blake Crouch’s: “Summer Frost”: https://www.amazon.com/review/R2Q3XD351WUGT9/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8
NK Jemisin’s “Emergency Skin”: