The most precise clocks we have are atomic clocks which are powered by quantum mechanics. Besides keeping time, they can also let your smartphone know where you are.
A Q&A with Meg Sipos, Runner Up
Can you give a short introduction about yourself?
I’m a writer, editor, and podcaster currently based in Pittsburgh, PA (US), where I live with my husband and our very talkative and spoiled cat. You can follow me on Twitter @meg-sipos
What inspired your story of rips in reality?
While I love stories about the multiverse, most of them come with this “it’s the end of the world as we know it and we need to figure out how to fix things or restore balance” kind of tone. I was interested in focusing on a more personal story, with the “end-times” being more tangential.
The realities in the story become a confusing maze for the characters to navigate. Is there something that triggered this idea?
I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of alternate realities, as well as consciousness, and what they might mean in relation to each other. Like, if different versions of you exist, with similar personalities and a lot of the same memories, are they you and are you them? Surely not. But also, yes. Because when you get down to the core, what’s the real difference between “them” and “you”? And so I tried to apply this internal confusion to the piece.
If you could, would you want to meet another you?
Definitely not. The thought of meeting another version of myself terrifies me.
What can you tell us about how you wrote it—anything from editing to offices to technology choices?
I often start a writing project with a phrase or an image, so the constraint here really helped prompt me. Also, when I write flash, my first draft is usually a lot longer than 1,000 words. My process is to over-write everything before cutting content and then tightening language. Then I re-read and edit over and over and over again. It works pretty well for me, but everyone’s different.
How did you feel about the news of your prize?
Honestly, I was surprised. It was a very good, very happy surprise though!
What was your path into writing?
Well, I’ve never really wanted to do anything else. Maybe when I was ten I wanted to be an architect for a month… But throughout my childhood, I told everyone who asked that I wanted to be a writer. And then I went on to earn my BFA and my MFA in creative writing.
Are you working on other projects now?
I'm currently working on a linked, place-based short story collection about people who are stuck in a dying city. It's a very dark and weird universe with some horror elements and some references to various mythologies. I am also working on a collection of flash. In addition to these independent works, my husband and I recently started collaborating on a very large SFF project.
Can you name one or two science-inspired books you've read in the past year that you would recommend to others? What did you like about them?
Sadly, I cannot. While I tend to watch a lot of science fiction, my reading trends more toward general weirdness. Some recommendations for general weirdness would be White Noise by Don DeLillo, The Sellout by Paul Beatty, and any story by Aimee Bender, Kelly Link, or George Saunders. DeLillo and Beatty for the post-modern aspects, the humor, and the commentary and Bender, Link, and Saunders for their concepts and the creative ways they execute them.
What appealed to you about the Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition?
I loved that it gave me an opportunity to exercise my writing in a genre that I am less familiar with. I really wanted to try my hand at it. The possibilities for quantum-inspired flash are endless!