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Prize-winning stories inspired by quantum physics

29 January 2014

Back in July 2013, CQT launched the Quantum Shorts 2013 competition with a call for flash fiction inspired by quantum physics. Half a year and over 500 entries later, we're ready to announce the winners.

We ran the Quantum Shorts 2013 competition with three media partners – Scientific American, Tor and Tor.com – and we've had a fantastic response. On top of the 500 entries, thousands of people have visited the competition website. We also had enthusiastic participation to our mini-competitions on Twitter. Our final mini-competition asking for a quantum twist on a book title was particularly hotly contested. The winner? "Do androids dream of electroweak".

The Quantum Shorts competitions – in 2012, we ran one for short films – are part of CQT's outreach strategy, aimed at inspiring people's interest in science and raising awareness of the research we do here at CQT in Singapore. We hope that people will continue to enjoy the fantastic collection of fiction assembled at shorts.quantumlah.org. It's not only the winning stories that are worth reading.

As for those winning stories, here are the results. There's an announcement on Scientific American's blog, too. First prize and runner up in each category were determined by the brilliant and creative folk from the scientific and literary worlds who kindly joined our judging panels. The stories were judged on overall impression, storyline, link to quantum physics and quality of writing. The people's choice award was decided by a public vote on the Open International category shortlist. Congratulations to the winners!

Open International Category
Quantum Shorts 2013 flash fiction competition: illustration for winners in the Open International category
Student International Category
Quantum Shorts 2013 flash fiction competition: illustration for winners in the Open International category
Student Singapore Category
Quantum Shorts 2013 flash fiction competition: illustration for winners in the Open International category

See what our judges had to say about all the stories by visiting the announcement page on the Quantum Shorts site.

Here is what some of them thought out about "The Knight of Infinity", winner of first prize in our open category.

In this story, a wealthy, grieving widower plans a grand experiment. It is an energetic and ultimately touching tale that buzzes with ideas about the multiverse and the disparate realities this interpretation of quantum theory creates.

"I like the way this one looked at daredevils, uncertainty and parallel universes," said judge Tania Hershman, curator of ShortStops.info and author of two collections of short stories. Jason Erik Lundberg, author of several books of the fantastic and founding editor of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, picked this story as a favourite too. It "presents a very empathetic portrait of its protagonist" he says, "his insistence on creating the conditions for a perfect thought experiment feels authentic and well-realized".

Pawel Frelik, President of the Science Fiction Research Association in 2013-14, compared the tale to classic sf writing. "The measured, factual, and yet evocative narration strongly reminds me of Ray Bradbury and his Mars stories," he says. "The changes of perspective towards the end are handled very skilfully, too, and do not break the tension for even half a sentence."

We extend our thanks to everyone who entered the competition and to our media partners for their support. Our winners will receive one-year digital subscriptions to Scientific American as well as other prizes. Go to the Quantum Shorts site to read more.

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