People have been hiding information in messages for millennia, but the quantum world provides a whole new way to do it.
** QUANTUM SHORTS 2019/2020: SHORTLISTED
Egg Tempera, Canvas
The large brown circle framed here is a composite image: hundreds of depictions of Jupiter, each with a slightly different atmospheric pattern. From childhood, Titan-based artist Juliette Okoro experienced her environment in constant superposition—what she called “the unbearable pluripotency of photons.” Modern historians speculate she suffered from a sensory-dominant form of Selective Decoherence Insufficiency, an unrecognized condition in her time. While she died in obscurity in the early 2110s, today much of her repertoire has been repurposed in the symbology of the Quantum Resistance Movement, prominently a stylized version of this piece known as the “Okoro Spot.”
Quantum Resistance Oral History Project
Ahmed Eklund (b. 2125– )
Chief Medical Officer; Celadon Mining Cluster, Kuiper Belt
Date of Interview: 11/1/2081
>> We’d been misdiagnosing SeDI for so long it’s impossible to pinpoint when the epidemic began. Accelerated dementia, brain tumors, spinal infections—they’re all common among deep-space miners. It’s the radiation. So when local workers came into MedBay with cognitive symptoms we just gave the usual treatments: handful of antibiotics, handful of neuroplastics—“the Celadon cocktail.” If people didn’t get better, we chalked it up to drug-resistance. That was the status quo for years. I… I’m not proud of it.
In ’66 they brought in a Terran gunnery sergeant on leave. The man was raving: “I’m bleeding out on Neptune while I shave myself on Titan.” He had it all—multilocation, situational instability, overstimulation. Got a billion-cred workup because the Central Planetary Authority said so, with nothing to show for it.
But there was something, damn it, and he had this creepy way of knowing things he shouldn’t have about all these other places where he visualized himself. Turns out these were alternate posts where he could have been stationed. So then—this guy was a particle, right? A single person, one body. But he sensed himself existing like a wave; uncollapsed, present across all places where he had the probability of being.
Soon enough we had a name for it: Selective Decoherence Insufficiency. SeDI.
…God, whatever happened to the good old days when you could trace disease to a fault with the human body and not the nature of reality itself? Things used to be so simple…
Anyway, I wrote up the case report and sent it to the Authority. In retrospect I should have just transmitted it into the sun, for all the good that did us.
“Beware the Tunneler!” Propaganda Poster
Ink, Paper, Spraypaint
The Central Planetary Authority responded to the emergence of SeDI in the Kuiper Belt with a swift campaign of containment and intersystem propaganda. At its best, CPA publications disseminated practical knowledge about SeDI and other quantum perceptual disorders. At its worst (as pictured here), they perpetuated misinformation and reinforced stigma. “The tunneler” is a hypothetical quantum-aberrant individual, caricatured as Belter, who could manifest physically at points along their probability waveform to bypass quarantine and other containment measures. This is widely refuted as a mischaracterization of both quantum mechanics and quantum psychopathology, but the idea found fertile ground in CPA propaganda due to anxieties over loss of political control in the Belt and longstanding xenophobic sentiments.
The poster is extensively vandalized. The winged decal is a reference to the Bashful Starling, a Jovian relief ship destroyed while trying to transgress the Terran blockade of Celadon Cluster. Several Okoro’s Spots have been painted, presumably in an act of defiance—or to suggest that SeDI was not as limited to the mining clusters as once presumed.
Quantum Resistance Oral History Project
Sister Faustina Chen (2115–2182)
Marian Order of the Blessed Parabola; Celadon Mining Cluster, Kuiper Belt
Date of Interview: 24/3/2180
>> Why? Well that’s an existential question: why have the laws of physics changed all of a sudden? Pure entropy, maybe. Perhaps it’s part of a larger cycle built into the universe, one we’re too small to see the shape of. Certainly the orthodox sentiment is Deus vult—God wills it.
I have a lot of problems with that last position (and this isn’t just the spiritual anguish of the recently-diagnosed, mind you.) Late-stage SeDI is terrible. Ungodly. People just sit there, so overstimulated and anxious they’re drenching their clothes with sweat and drool. And there’s nothing we can do but keep them comfortable—get a room with padded chairs and curtains. They like fluttering curtains.
Though every now and then we get a case where someone’s still cognitively intact. Who can talk to you, through all the multilocation and whatnot. Who’ll relate conversations from halfway across the system, tell you the latest news from Mars, the full range of possibilities. It’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen to prophecy.
And all the prophecies are bleak. War, rioting, disease. Babylon burning in the night across a thousand realities.
Schrodinger Independence Stele
*** Since 2166 the citizens of Celadon Mining Cluster have faced the Unknown with fortitude and bravery, alone and abandoned by the Inner System. Now, on the eve of greater intersystem conflict, the Independent Celadon Polity averts its eyes—not out of bitterness but in hope, for Esse est percipi. So long as the stele is unopened and the transmitter within not accessed the state of the System, and our distant Homeland therein, may yet be well. ***
Sister Faustina Chen, Interview 24/3/80 — continued
When it comes time to seal this place from the inside like the Terrans have done from the outside, I’ll rest easy knowing I did my part. Turned the Abbey into a hydroponics farm, expanded the waterworks. Even made the chapter-house a museum—for history’s sake. However far-gone I’ll be, I just hope someone will be around to put me in front of some curtains.
…I understand it, now that I have it, you know. It’s the little waveforms of fabric when they flutter. They overlap, coalesce. It’s calming. Beautiful. I can see it now…