quantum computing

Sunday Pimping

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1

Ah, “pimp Sunday.” Another fine tradition that starts today!

I got back from Taos Toolbox three weeks ago. It was interesting meeting people mostly going the tradpub route, working hard to get short fiction into publications. It was suggested I need to write some short stories to get my name known, so I wrote one, which has so far survived the winnowing process at a new ‘zine, Mothership Zeta, which looks like it’s going to be a fun read.

Also interesting to learn that even what I would consider to be proven great writers — Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress, who ran the Toolbox — have trouble getting and keeping good agents and publishers. Walter is now doing well self-publishing his backlist, but even he has difficulty getting major projects off the ground. Meanwhile, Nancy (a self-described pantser, meaning she doesn’t plot out a book in advance) has written one good novel she can’t get published, and despite winning a Nebula for her latest novella and being one of the better-liked writers around, has a spotty record in getting publisher support.

The takeaway lesson is that changes in the publishing business are pushing writers into self-publishing, where at least they have a chance at making a living if they work hard and develop a deep backlist. The total revenues in conventional SF&F publishing are stagnant or falling, and new markets like media tie-ins, flash fiction, and new venues like phones for reading are where many of the readers have gone. There’s a great hunger for SF&F works in developing countries, and anyone looking ahead has to consider getting their work out in Simplified Chinese and publishing with some of the phone media platforms out there. Which all ties in to the Hugo controversy, where a tiny US-centric group has defended their award as “the best of SF&F” but retreat to “what Worldcon-going fans (less than two thousand voting each year before 2014) think is best” when questioned closely.

But wait, I’m supposed to pimp my work here. My current series, The Substrate Wars, is about a group of libertarian-ish students who discover that the universe runs on a computational substrate, and by hacking the substrate with quantum computers, they can create not only quantum gateways to anywhere, but weapons of unimaginable power and replicators that can end material shortages for everyone. They are pursued by Homeland security and the intelligence agents of many nations before they escape to a New Earth, then work from there to free Earth’s people from their security and surveillance states. Working out how you would actually do that while doing minimal damage was a lot of fun.

My Taos readers found the going a bit rough on the start of the third book, tentatively called “Shrivers.” So I’m reworking the beginning to provide a stronger narrative line. OTOH, several spontaneously commented they thought the series would make great movies (based on the synopses I had prepared.) So I’m working on that now, heading to the Calliope Workshop, a new weekend seminar at UCLA meant to introduce new writers to agents and publishers interested getting liberty-oriented stories into pop culture outlets like movies.

The “logline” started out as a single-sentence description encapsulating the setting, protagonist, story problem, antagonist, and goal, which would be hand-written on the spine of a script or in the reading log as an executive summary. The idea is to demonstrate the basic appeal of the story so that a decisionmaker can quickly reject it if it doesn’t work for their purposes, or ask for more if it does. Time is short and no one in the industry has time to do more than reject 99% of what’s presented to them as quickly as possible. So remember the lesson of Powerpoint’s dominance: you only have a few seconds to get someone interested enough to stop for your work.

Loglines for the Substrate Wars books:


In a near-future US surveillance state, California college students invent quantum gateways and have to fight Homeland Security to gain their freedom on a new planet.



From their base on a new planet, freedom-fighting techno-rebels use their discovery of quantum gateways to steal all the world’s nuclear weapons and bring down Earth’s oppressive governments.



As humanity expands to new colony planets and enjoys a Golden Age of peace and prosperity, the new government has to fight a fleet of robotic destroyer ships to save humanity from extinction.

[In progress: release date around November 2015]

One of my earlier books on applying attachment theory to relationships and mate-seeking is still free today: http://amzn.to/1IibPVO

“Substrate Wars” Orientation

Welcome to Substrate Wars, the series about how one group of scientific rebels reform their world through discovery and courage.

Book 1, Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1, followed a group of freedom-oriented radicals and grad students on a California campus after they discover quantum gateways and come to the attention of Homeland Security. In Book 2, Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2, the rebels defend themselves from attacks from Earth, then strike back to free humanity from weapons of mass destruction and the great powers that use them to control the world. Shrivers: The Substrate Wars 3 takes up ten years later, when a prosperous and expanding human civilization is confronted by alien exterminators sent by the original inhabitants of the substrate.


Also, take a look at my website covering attachment and relationship issues, JebKinnison.com — I split SubstrateWars.com from it as the amount of material grew too large. The relationships site is about human beings, attachment, health and social policy issues. There will be some overlap, but at SubstrateWars the emphasis is on science fiction, politics, and story.

My books on relationships are on Amazon: Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner, and Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner. If you’re looking for your first or second partner, Bad Boyfriends is the one to read; if you have a partner but either you or your partner is reluctant or unable to enjoy closeness, Avoidant is most useful.

I respond to all reasonable comments and invite you to add your email to the mailing list or add the RSS feed to your reader so you’ll see new posts.

“Red Queen”: UK Amazon Review, 5 Stars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

One of the odd things about Amazon’s Anglophone sites is a kind of review imperialism; for example, the UK’s site features UK customer reviews, then includes US reviews separately, for the good reason that there aren’t enough UK reviews for most books to be useful. But on the US site, UK customer reviews aren’t visible. Why? Because of individual country laws, the sites are separate, but all English-language reviews should be equally useful and visible. Ditto for Australia and Canada, and even India; and on those other country sites, there’s much less reason to write a review, because it will be seen by far fewer people.

So while I’m happy to see this nice review come in over at the UK site, the US customers won’t see it!

5 out of 5 stars
A frightening view of what could already be happening
By Mr. Victor Botterill on 12 Jan. 2015

This is a fast moving book and it took me a while to tune into the characters. However, they are all very different and because a variety of opinions are expressed, it means that the central message behind a straightforward plot soon begins to emerge. The story literally starts with a bang.

Like all good science fiction there is an inbuilt theme which reflects the society we are living in and what could in fact happen in the future. Try to explain the story to someone else and it would sound far fetched, but clever “technical” descriptions of the physics and technology involved makes reading the tale believable. This book ends where another story will begin.

The Notes on Politics at the end are very useful and although the action is set in America, it is apparent as you read these notes that they accurately reflect what is already happening in the United Kingdom. This is a real wake-up call. Thoroughly recommended, though you may find it difficult to put down.

“Red Queen”: IndieReader Review, 4.5 Stars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

By Jeb Kinnison

star star star star star

IR Verdict: RED QUEEN is a tempered look at politics and science in the near future. It is a coming of age novel where the characters reach out beyond the safety of their university to take back their right to self-determination.

 Jan 07, 2015

“The idea of freedom and the right to self-determination are explored throughout the book as the students seek a refuge from the ubiquitous spying from Homeland Security.”

IR Sticker IR ApprovedAs a new school year ramps up on campus, Justin Smith began another day at the Artificial Life lab running ALife simulations on human evolution. The lab was a sanctuary from the political divisiveness on campus and, for that matter, across the nation. A nuclear terrorist attack in New York City some years ago resulted in a government crackdown on dissent as well as a depressed economy where educational grants were drying up except for those labs who “cooperated” with the government. However, Justin’s lab was soon to transform itself from a sanctuary to the center of resistance to the government. This transformation came about when another graduate student, Steve Duong, was investigating an anomaly in his quantum computer research that led to a discovery of a computer program so powerful that it could be weaponized,  tilting the balance of power even further into the hands of an already repressive government. The race to keep this mega weapon out of government hands leads Justin, Steve and a small cadre of students to secure the weapon and fight for their freedom from a tyrannical Dept. of Homeland Security.

RED QUEEN is the first book in The Substrate Wars series. On the surface, it is a tale of insurrection against a government that believes that the ends justify the means. Where this plot diverges from other of this type is that the government is not a fascist state nor the result of a coup but a duly elected government that uses the terrorist attack to stifle dissent and maintain order according to their politically correct philosophy. The prologue begins with a quote from Robert Heinlein, “There is nothing in this world so permanent as a temporary emergency”. This quote from 1950 eerily foreshadows life in the United States in the immediate future where there is only one political party with true power. The idea of freedom and the right to self-determination are explored throughout the book as the students seek a refuge from the ubiquitous spying from Homeland Security. The plot occasionally bogs down when discussing the physics behind quantum computing. The author attempts to work through this with footnotes and an appendix with “notes” on politics and science that are somewhat long and a bit too academic for this type of story. These are only minor drawbacks to an engrossing book about life in the near future that is neither perfect nor dystopian.

RED QUEEN is a tempered look at politics and science in the near future. It is a coming of age novel where the characters reach out beyond the safety of their university to take back their right to self-determination.


– See more at: http://indiereader.com/2015/01/red-queen-substrate-wars/#sthash.82mzEoWj.dpuf

“Red Queen”: Science Notes


[Appendix from Red Queen: The Substrate Wars.]

If you’re a theoretical physicist, you’ll note I am taking liberties with the science. But only a little—and the plot is very much real science. Steve Duong discovers something unexpected, creates a new hypothesis which explains his anomalous results, then confirms his hypothesis by further experimentation. I don’t personally believe we live in a universe where giant quasiparticles can talk to every other particle in the universe and ask them to attach to new partners, but it could be so. We are always just one experiment away from a revolution in understanding. And it will likely be something equally unexpected that allows us to travel to the stars.

I have the Grey Tribe communicating by using encrypted messages embedded in public web site photo streams. For a similar app available now, see Crypstagram. There are several messaging apps that are encrypted currently, for example Whatsapp. But in this future State of Emergency, standard encryption of messages and email has been outlawed, and phone companies and apps are not allowed to secure user data against surveillance. There are high officials in the US government at this writing asking that all phones be searchable for law enforcement purposes, and we can expect more efforts to outlaw encryption. “When encryption is outlawed, only outlaws will have encryption!”

On the attempts to find a cellular automaton model that explains quantum physics, this is the abstract of one interesting paper: “Quantum Field as a Quantum Cellular Automaton I: The Dirac free evolution in one dimension”:

It is shown how a quantum cellular automaton can describe very precisely the Dirac evolution, without requiring Lorentz covariance. The automaton is derived with the only assumptions of minimal dimension and parity and time-reversal invariance. The automaton extends the Dirac field theory to the Planck and ultrarelativistic scales. The Dirac equation is recovered in the usual particle physics scale of inertial mass and momenta. In this first paper the simplest case of one space dimension is analyzed. We provide a technique to derive an analytical approximation of the evolution of the automaton in terms of a momentum-dependent Schrödinger equation. Such approximation works very well in all regimes, including ultrarelativistic and Planckian, for the typical smooth quantum states of field theory with limited bandwidth in momentum. Finally we discuss some thought experiments for falsifying the existence of the automaton at the Planck scale.

Real quantum computing is still in its infancy. Efforts so far have been plagued by noise and the small number of qubits available—the current state of the art is 4! Researchers—and especially outside evaluations—find it hard to tell whether current quantum computers are actually doing quantum computation. This is an area where many discoveries are likely to clarify quantum phenomenon, and perhaps, as in this story, open up completely new vistas on how the universe is organized.

If you are already familiar with the basics of quantum phenomena and want to learn more about quantum computing, the Wikipedia articles on the field are excellent places to start.

Artificial Life is a kind of computational model of the biology of life as we know it. Starting with very simple worlds, models have become more and more sophisticated to the point where significant discoveries about emergent features are being made. Larger, faster simulations feature co-evolving organisms in ecosystems and environments that have been molded by biological processes. Wikipedia is a good place to start learning about the field.

The abstract of a current paper, “Indefinitely Scalable Computing = Artificial Life Engineering,” by David H. Ackley and Trent R. Smallon, on the state of research and ideas on applying ALife concepts to general computer architecture:

The traditional CPU/RAM computer architecture is increasingly unscalable, presenting a challenge for the industry—and is too fragile to be securable even at its current scale, presenting a challenge for society as well. This paper argues that new architectures and computational models, designed around software-based artificial life, can offer radical solutions to both problems. The challenge for the soft alife research community is to harness the dynamics of life and complexity in service of robust, scalable computations—and in many ways, we can keep doing what we are doing, if we use indefinitely scalable computational models to do so. This paper reviews the argument for robustness in scalability, delivers that challenge to the soft alife community, and summarizes recent progress in architecture and program design for indefinitely scalable computing via artificial life engineering.

The Red Queen hypothesis is one of the key concepts of modern evolutionary biology.