Ten Quantum Shorts finalists selected from record number of submissions

Published on
March 11, 2024

The international Quantum Shorts competition received a record 650 entries in its last call for flash fiction that takes inspiration from quantum physics. Now, it is delighted to present the 10 finalists.

Quantum Shorts is organised by the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore. On behalf of the UK National Quantum Technology Programme, the four Quantum Technology Hubs support the competition as a scientific partner alongside other leading scientific institutions around the world. Scientific American, the longest continuously published magazine in the U.S., and Nature, the international weekly journal of science, also support the competition as media partners.  

The call for submissions opened in October 2023, asking writers to incorporate the phrase “nobody said this was going to be easy” and keep their stories to not more than 1000 words.

It was declared as the final round of Quantum Shorts, which has run annually since 2012, and writers around the world responded resoundingly.

Their stories drew praise from the shortlisting panel. Author Michael Brooks noted the great diversity. “The stories were truly engaging: sometimes touching, sometimes funny, sometimes ingenious, sometimes just hilariously crazy!” he said. “I had great difficulty choosing my favourites, as all of them had something to offer a curious reader.” Meanwhile, Andrew Hanson, Outreach Manager at UK’s National Physical Laboratory, was impressed by the writers’ ability to “reframe the weird world of quantum particles within human scale and emotional levels”.

The shortlisted writers hail from Canada, Pakistan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. They have taken inspiration from quantum physics concepts, including the many-worlds interpretation and entanglement, to craft stories about family ties, Father Christmas, and fallible creators.

The ten shortlisted stories in alphabetical order are:

·      A World in Threads Acadia Reynolds tells a fantastical tale about the red threads offate, quantum realities and family ties.

·      Clare's Prism Quantum messages come through from a daughter to her mother in this story by Dave Chua.

·      Degenerate Sanity A quest to reverse an unprecedented consequence of interworld expeditions unfolds in Mahnoor Fatima’s story.

·      Entanglement In this story by Kathryn Aldridge-Morris, quantum physics is a topic for connection as a mother deals with her daughter leaving home.

·      Quantum cake à la Solvay Pippa Storeytells a tale in verse and rhyme, of quantum events and people through time.

·      Red Light, Blue Light Written by Ioana Burtea, this is a story of entanglement, love and longing.

·      Root Consciousness Tony Tsoi’s flash fiction of a biophysicist’s journey to reconnect with long-lost family.

·      Santa Claus and the Quantum Librarian In this Christmas story by S. A. McNaughton, a child plans to observe Santa.

·      The Observer Unobserved photons are leaking from a supposedly observed universe in Dan Goodman’s take on the observer effect.

·      Two Lives Stretched Out Before Them In this story by Janel Comeau, the quantum computer decides if a couple’s relationship ends, or does it?

Congratulations to the shortlisted authors! They are already rewarded for their efforts. They have won a USD 100 shortlist award and a one-year digital subscription to Scientific American. They also win the chance for greater rewards as the competition’s judging panel decide the First Prize and Runner Up.

Readers can also have their say. Voting for the People’s Choice prize is now open on the Quantum Shorts website and closes at 11:59 PM GMT on 29 March 2024. The winners will be revealed in April 2024.

Five stories also received honourable mentions. These stories were favourites of some of the judges but did not quite make the shortlist. They are Qubit Superhighway by Liam Hogan, Play That Funky Music by Max Gallagher, The Experiment by Natasha Irving, Equestrian Physicist Needed ASAP by Lily Turaski, and Think of Your Left Foot by Cadence Mandybura.