The results for the Quantum Shorts competition are in! The flash-fiction contest (stories not to exceed 1,000 words), organized by the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore, drew more than 500 entries this year! The contest’s panel of judges included Patrick Nielsen Hayden, manager of the SF and fantasy line at Tor Books, and author John Scalzi, who recently won a Locus Award for Redshirts.
When they asked the judges to rank their favorite stories from the shortlist of ten, every single one made someone’s top three! After much weighing and reading, First Prize was awarded to “The Knight of Infinity” by Brian Crawford. This story of a grieving widower who attempts a reckless experiment is both a touching piece, and also a strong, idea-driven wok of SF. The organizers also opened a poll to the public, and “The Knight of Infinity” came in as the top choice out of hundreds of votes!
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.”
The judges selected a runner-up Betony Adams’ “Dice,” which plays with Einstein’s famous quotation about the gambling habits of deities. Jason Erik Lundberg called it “wonderfully written, with vivid descriptions,” while Patrick Nielsen Hayden, manager of the SF and fantasy line at Tor Books, said “I liked the way it shifts levels and fakes the reader out,” and Mariette di Christina, who oversees Scientific American, said, “I enjoyed a story that went about its business with subtlety and elegance and displayed a strong narrative arc.“
They also had two separate categories for students—one International and one for the contest’s base in Singapore. First Prize and Runner-up in the International category both went to US high school students! “Postmortem” by Antonia Jade, takes inspiration from the famous Schrodinger’s cat, While in Rebecca Baron’s “There Was a Sun” a physicist struggles with the implications of quantum teleportation. The Singapore category was topped by Claire Cheong U-Er’s “Tree in a Forest“ about a man who can peer through ‘quantum tunnels’to other worlds and times, and “Into Chaos” by Aaron Rosario Jeyaraj, in which a scientist is devastated by his attempt to know everything.
We agree with the Quantum Shorts team: why not go read all the stories? There are many gems in this site’s collection of quantum-inspired fiction!
Congratulations to authors Brian Crawford, Betony Adams, the student winners, and all the runners up!