2019 Quantum Shorts Flash Fiction Winners

Three winning entries in the Quantum Shorts 2019 flash fiction competition were announced June 10, chosen from 647 submissions — quantum short stories that are no longer than 1000 words and contained the phrase “things used to be so simple.”

Quantum Shorts is an annual competition for creative works inspired by quantum physics. It is run by the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) in Singapore with media partners Scientific American and Nature, and leading quantum research centres around the world as scientific partners. First prize comes with a $1500 cash award.

The winners are available to read at the links.




The top three stories “explore the many worlds idea from quantum physics, in which every event is understood to have all possible outcomes, each happening in its own branch of the universe.” For example, “Shinichi’s Tricycle” hinges on the development of the atomic bomb.

The top two prize-winners were decided by a jury of eight expert scientists and writers reviewed ten stories earlier shortlisted from 647 submissions to the competition. A public vote decided the third prize. Each winning author gets a cash award and an engraved trophy, on top of their shortlist award and one-year digital subscription to Scientific American.

Quantum Shorts 2019 Flash Fiction Competition Finalists

The ten finalists in the Quantum Shorts 2019 flash fiction competition were announced May 4.

The shortlist was chosen from 647 total submissions, quantum short stories that are no longer than 1000 words and contained the phrase “things used to be so simple.”

The ten shortlisted stories are, in alphabetical order:

  • (Tunnels)x – In this intriguing tale by Gunnar De Winter, quantum tunnelling might help us escape our ultimate fate.
  • Collateral Damage – Simulations of war take a more terrifying turn in Lewis Freer’s story about unintended consequences of technology.
  • Connection Lost – Anjelica Grey explores the complexities of love and loss in her take on many-worlds and quantum entanglement.
  • Does a Particle Collider Have a Heart? – This is a tale of how that which we care for might come to care for us by Emma Marcos.
  • Entangled Servitude – Tom Middlebrook’s story is a witty take on quantum entanglement.
  • Entanglement – In this love story by Annie Tupek, matchmaking gets a quantum spin.
  • Fine Print – C R Long’s short story about alternate dimensions magnifies the importance of reading the small print in your contract.
  • Shinichi’s Tricycle – Ariadne Blayde subtly pulls disparate characters together in a story of possibilities.
  • Special Exhibition – Step into history with an exhibition on a quantum-inspired interstellar pandemic, curated by Griffin Ayaz Tyree.
  • The Collapse – Meg Sipos has an edgy take on alternate realities and multiple selves.

They have won a USD $100 shortlist award and a one-year digital subscription to Scientific American and may win more awards as their stories head into the final judging.

The public is invited to vote for their favorite story for the People’s Choice Prize. Voting is open and continues until 11:59 p.m. GMT on Monday, May 18.

Quantum Shorts also gave honorable mention to five stories: A Quantum Tale by Jerome Edward Malenfant; Entangled by Medardo M Manrique Jr; External Memo SPTI672 by Krati Shukla; It takes two to entangle by D. A. Quiñones and The Mysteries of Quantum Mechanics’ Charges by Lee Paul Melling.

The shortlisting judges, drawn from the competition’s scientific partners, had high praise for this year’s stories. Andrew Hanson at the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL): “They were a very welcome escape from a world that has suddenly become very sci-fi. It was warming how the authors used abstract, odd, perhaps even obscure building blocks to make something beautiful, coherent, witty and relevant.”

[Thanks to Marc Criley for the story.]