Three winning entries in the Quantum Shorts 2021 flash fiction competition were announced April 5. Quantum short stories are no longer than 1000 words, and the contest entries were required to contain the phrase “it’s a lot to think about”.
Judges Chad Orzel, George Musser, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, José Ignacio Latorre, Lindy Orthia, Mariia Mykhailova and Tania De Rozario selected these two winners from the shortlist of ten quantum-inspired stories. There also was an online public vote for a third prize-winner.
First prize comes with a $1500 cash award. The runner-up wins $1,000, and the author of the People’s Choice gets $500. A one-year Scientific American digital subscription is also awarded to all finalists.
The shortlist was chosen from over 400 total submissions, quantum short stories that are no longer than 1000 words and contained the phrase “it’s a lot to think about”.
The shortlisted stories take inspiration from topics in quantum physics including quantum computing, the many-worlds interpretation and the observer effect, to spin tales about demons, coronaviruses, cats, and terrifying quantum games.
The ten shortlisted stories are, in alphabetical order:
A Tale of Two Viruses – Written by Connie Chen, in an eerily familiar world, Evan’s search for a coronavirus vaccine has unintended consequences.
A World Apart – Colm O’Shea explores the thought processes of a quantum processor.
Demons Hunt in Darkness – S.G. Phillips tells a fantastical story about a demon-haunted world and a girl’s quest for a new way to live.
Helping Hands – Cora Valderas’s story is a spooky warning to always be careful when handling quantum machinery.
Lost and Found – Ana mysteriously finds children’s socks on her bed after moving into her new home in this story by Giancarla Aritao.
Possible Cats – Michael Haiden confronts the issues that arrive with a dangerous and expensive new technology.
Powers of Observation – With a speculative eye on the future, Charmaine Smith creates a powerful job that carries a cost.
Quantum et Circenses – In this tale by Sabrina Patsch, participants in a race about strategy, courage and luck also have to contend with quantum effects.
Quantum Luck – Through the adventures of Captain Brinks, Brian Wells tells a story about quantum tunnelling, with a twist.
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 contest judges will decide the prize winners.
First Prize: USD 1500 & an engraved trophy
Runner Up: USD 1000 & an engraved trophy
The public is invited to vote for their favorite story, too. The People’s Choice Prize winner receives USD 500 and an engraved trophy. Voting is open and continues until 11:59 p.m. GMT on Monday, March 21.
Entries must take inspiration from quantum physics, be no longer than 1000 words, and include the phrase “it’s a lot to think about” (taken from “Fine Print,” first prize winner in the 2019/2020 edition of Quantum Shorts by C. R. Long.) The competition is accepting entries until December 16.
The contest is organized by the Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore. It is free to enter. First Prize is USD 1500, and there also is a Runner Up prize of USD 1000, and a People’s Choice prize of USD 500. Up to ten shortlisted entries will also win a USD 100 shortlist prize and a one-year digital subscription to Scientific American. The contest rules are here.
The members of the award judging panel are José Ignacio Latorre, Director of the?Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT)?at the National University of Singapore, physicist and popular science author Chad Orzel, science writer George Musser, author and editor Ingrid Jendrzejewski, science communication expert Lindy Orthia, software engineer Mariia Mykhailova from Microsoft Quantum, and writer and visual artist Tania De Rozario.
The contest cycles between film and fiction from year-to-year; 2020 was devoted to short films. Read File 770’s reports on the previous fiction cycle in 2019 – about the flash fiction shortlist here, and the contest winners here.
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.”
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.
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.”