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I'm looking for a book that I read around 2010 or 2011, and I'm pretty sure that it was published not long before, maybe just a few years.

  • Blue-gold cover, smooth abstract pattern somewhat like water ripples or caustics enter image description here
  • Takes place in a quantum sea or ocean. That's what I thought, but I can't find anything other than Stephen Baxter's Xeelee series that references such a concept, so now I'm doubting myself.
  • Story involves a race from the deep "sea" to the shallow "sea". If I recall correctly ripples represent perturbations in reality and the goal is to prevent a large "wave"... but I don't really remember.
  • I believe the characters are all abstract, rather than physical entities. I don't think there is much machinery or really an concrete technology like in hard science fiction.
  • At the time, the author was unknown to me. I believe the author blurb highlighted his background in theoretical or quantum physics.

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One possibility is the Richard Garfinkle novel All of an Instant (1999). The cover more or less matches your recollection:

Cover for All of an Instant

The somewhat strange setting involves characters swimming about in, not a quantum, but an atemporal sea, the "Instant". To quote from the opening of the book:

The upper half of time is an ocean of clear water, rippling with tides of action and change, created wave upon wave by those few people who live in that eternal sea. The waters of atemporality follow the tides from past to future, rippling and crashing with the surf of man-made change. The ocean is varied in calm and storm with neap tide and riptide, with safe swimming currents of alteration and killing whirlpools of transformation, but everywhere from the shallows of time to the deeps the ocean is one and the same water.
No one is born into the waters of time; each ocean dweller lived first in the earth of time, before either pulling himself or being pulled out of the hard strata, yanked away from the prison of causality into the freedom of change.

Swimming around in the Instant can change normal reality (called the "Flux"):

Across the gaps the splashing of the swimmer created large waves and deep currents. These waves wrought great changes in the world. ...

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