There's a science fiction story in which a character is using a probability algorithm to restore a smashed stained glass window. As the story progresses, he begins to leave more and more of the pieces out, trying to simplify the problem. Then he gets batty and leaves still more and more out, till finally he is found dead at his computer, the window wholly gone, the frame empty, the white light of day pouring in upon him.

What story is this in? Who wrote it?

  • 4
    I have to ask.. how did he die? From sunburn?
    – Rag
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 8:12
  • Can't pin this one down.. sounds rather like a Philip K Dick scenario.
    – Ian Lewis
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 10:57

3 Answers 3


This is 'The Glass Hammer' by K.W. Jeter. IIRC, the guy reconstructing the glass is a secondary character.

VIDEO: CLOSE-UP of the simulated window, as before. The colors are arranged in a simple geometrical pattern, no apparent symbolism. The light filling the frame is brighter, though: some of the spaces outlining the straight-edged figures are empty, letting the white light from behind pass through unfiltered.
"That's his latest kick." Wyre nodded at the screen. "That the original design of the window may have incorporated actual blank spaces, where no glass was fit into the framework at all. So there'd be no coloration there, just pure light coming through. Some religious significance to that, no doubt."
"This is something that came out of the lab analyses?"
Wyre shook his head. "Something Dolph came up with on his own. A hunch. That's all; just something he felt."
Why not. Schuyler gazed at the pattern of light until Wyre blanked the screen.

and quoting from Amazon

A more mainstream religious organization devotes extensive resources to the reconstruction of stained glass windows, using elaborate computer programs to calculate the probable arrangement of the glass before the windows were destroyed.*

Amazon Book Review


OK, it could be the story "Enchanted Glass". I'm not sure who wrote it, but the stained glass part makes me think of that book.

  • 1
    Let me ISFDB that for you: Enchanted Glass is the title of a novel by Diana Wynne Jones. But the OP used the short-stories tag, so that probably not it.
    – user14111
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 1:26

The book that keeps coming to my mind is "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson. You can read a synopsis of that book(http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptonomicon)

  • Can you explain your answer? I see no mention of stained-glass windows in Cryptonomicon.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 13:29

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