Wider Community and Schools News

Home>Wider Community and Schools News>Final three winners of the Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition

April 14, 2024

Return to News

Final three winners of the Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition

Three stories inspired by quantum physics have claimed prizes in the final round of the
international Quantum Shorts competition.

First Prize goes to the author of “A World in Threads” – in which a girl searches for a perfect
reality through many worlds. “The Observer”, where the emergence of observers within an
observed universe causes problems, is Runner Up. A public poll on the shortlist chose “Root
Consciousness” for the People’s Choice Prize.

Quantum Shorts is organised by the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore with
Scientific American and Nature as media partners, and scientific partners the ARC Centre of
Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems; the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum
Technologies; the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, Canada; the
Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech; QuTech; and the UK National
Quantum Technologies Programme.

A panel of judges selected the two stories for the competition’s top honours from a shortlist of
ten quantum-inspired stories. The judges were Chad Orzel, George Musser, Ingrid
Jendrzejewski, José Ignacio Latorre, Ken Liu, Leonardo Benini and Tania De Rozario.

“The finalists represented a wide range of styles, approaches, and subject matter. It was so
inspiring to see how creatively the writers interpreted the premise and spun expected tropes in
unexpected directions,” said speculative fiction author Ken Liu. “Congrats to the winners, and I
hope everyone continues to tell the stories they want to tell.”

In addition to the shortlist award, certificate and digital subscription to Scientific American that
is awarded to all the finalists, the three winners get cash awards and an engraved trophy.

The fantastical story “A World in Threads” struck a chord with the judges. Science writer George
Musser called it “surreal but affecting” while Leonardo Benini, Senior Editor at Nature Physics
praised the “surreal, oneiric, evocative writing”. For winning First Prize, Acadia Reynolds
receives USD 1500.

“I’m thrilled about winning first place,” she said. “I’m pursuing a career in science writing, so it
feels great for my writing to be validated like this. I plan on continuing to write and improve.”

Aspiring writer Dan Goodman is Runner Up, winning USD 1000. His story “The Observer” was a
favourite of writer Ingrid Jendrzejewski. “This is a wonderfully creative piece with an ambitious
concept,” she said. “I love how it leans into the science and weaves it into the story’s world.”

On being the Runner Up, Dan Goodman said, “To be honest, I had been so thrilled just to make
the shortlist that I had no expectations whatsoever. This news came as a complete surprise. All
the shortlisted entries were wonderful, some truly outstanding, so I am honoured and humbled
for my story to be chosen as the runner up.”

The People’s Choice Prize of USD 500 went to Tony Tsoi of “Root Consciousness”. He said, “This
story is my second submission ever to a writing contest. I am thrilled to be awarded the
People’s Choice Prize. I would like to thank my two writing buddies who have accompanied me
on my writing journey since Day 1. Special thanks go to my wife, Wing-Yee, who lets me
interrupt her whenever I need to brainstorm ideas.”

“I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in Quantum Shorts since the Centre for
Quantum Technologies started this series in 2012,” said José Ignacio Latorre, who is also
Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies. “Our lives are richer for your creative work. I
particularly appreciate the films and fiction that explore science in subtle ways. This year’s
winner did that beautifully.”

Congratulations to the winners! Find all the shortlisted stories, and interviews with the
shortlisted authors on their inspiration on the Quantum Shorts website.

Audiences can also share their thoughts on Quantum Shorts through the competition’s survey
with the chance of receiving a book in thanks. We’ll be giving 20 lucky recipients chosen at
random a free print copy of the first Quantum Shorts book.

A forthcoming second volume of quantum short stories is also planned, collecting the
honourably mentioned, shortlisted and winning stories of the last three years of the flash fiction
competitions. The e-book will be available for free download.