Ten finalists for the Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition

The shortlisted entries were selected from an unprecedented 647 total submissions
04 May 2020


We are thrilled to announce the shortlisted entries for the Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition! The contest is organised by CQT with media partners Scientific American and Nature, and leading quantum research centres around the world as scientific partners.

The contest called for stories inspired by quantum physics. The stories had to be no longer than 1000 words and contain the phrase “things used to be so simple”. Writers all over the world responded to our fiction call. From the 647 entries received – an unprecedented number of submissions in the competition's eight-year history – the shortlisting panel chose ten.

You can read the shortlisted stories at https://shorts.quantumlah.org/fictions#2020.

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 shortlisted authors 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. The competition judges, including CQT Director Artur Ekert, are now deliberating the top awards.

You can help one of the authors get more reward for their writing too. Vote for your favourite story at https://shorts.quantumlah.org/vote. Voting is open from now till 11:59 PM GMT on Monday, 18 May 2020. The story that gets the most support will win the People’s Choice Prize of $500.

For supporting the competition, we thank our shortlisting partners: the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies, the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM), QuTech, and the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme. Our appreciation also goes out to all the writers who participated.

Now read the finalists. Shortlisting judge Andrew Hanson at the UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) said of this year's stories: “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.”