Quantum objects can exist in two or more states at once: an electron in superposition, for example, can simultaneously move clockwise and anticlockwise around a ring-shaped conductor.
The Quantum Shorts 2019 flash fiction competition has its ten finalists! We are thrilled to announce the shortlisted entries from the hundreds of stories that came from writers all around the world.
The quantum short stories are no longer than 1000 words and contain the phrase “things used to be so simple”. The shortlist contains ten stories, chosen from 647 total submissions – an unprecedented number of entries. Our appreciation goes out to all the writers who participated so enthusiastically.
The shortlisting judges, drawn from the competition’s scientific partners, had high praise for the stories this year. John Donohue at the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Canada, found them “occasionally terrifying, occasionally beautiful, and always evocative”, while Georgia Mortzou at the UK Quantum Communications Hub found “the standard very high, the concepts original”. Spiros Michalakis, a quantum physicist and outreach manager at the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech called the stories “fantastic” and “scientifically nuanced”.
The ten shortlisted stories are, in alphabetical order:
Congratulations to the shortlisted writers! They have won a USD $100 shortlist award and a one-year digital subscription to Scientific American – as well as the chance to win even more awards as their stories head into the final judging.
Have a favourite story? You can help one of the shortlisted authors get more reward for their stories. We invite you to take part and pick your favourite short story for the People’s Choice Prize. Voting is open from now till 11:59 PM GMT on Monday, 18 May 2020.
You might find picking your favourite a difficult task. The shortlisting panel certainly did. Tara Roberson at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems said, “I was delighted with the entries for Quantum Shorts this year. It seems as though the calibre of stories is continuing to improve and it was a challenge to shortlist my favourite entries from the stories submitted.”
We would also like to give an honourable mention to five stories. These stories were among the favourites of some of the judges but did not make the shortlist. They are 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.
We’ll give the final word about the stories this year to 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.”
We thank all authors for their participation and wish the shortlisted authors all the best as their stories head into the final judging.
* Due to the Covid-19 situation, the shortlist was compiled without the input of David Hutchinson of the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies. We seek your kind understanding.