Winning Stories

What if checking for monsters under your bed doomed a parallel you to a grisly end? A story that explores this fear of a girl aged six and three quarter years has won the 2015 Quantum Shorts international competition for flash fiction inspired by quantum physics.

Ana” by Liam Hogan was selected by a panel of international judges for first prize in the online contest’s Open Category. It is one of four stories to win awards from over 400 entries.

Illus for Ana (c) Michael Manomivibul

Image credit: Michael Manomivibul

“The ability to convey a childlike approach to the multiverse made for a compelling read,” said judge Colin Sullivan, editor of the science fiction page of Nature. Ana was also a favourite of Artur Ekert, Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore, who said it was “clever with a nice twist” and “thought provoking about moral responsibility across the multiverse”.

The winner receives a cash prize, a one year-digital subscription to Scientific American, a trophy, certificate and a print of the original artwork commissioned to illustrate the story.

Runner up in the Open Category is “Don’t Die Before You’re Dead, Sally Wu” by Andrew Neil Gray, a cosmic struggle for survival imagined through mailing list chatter. Judge Mariette Di Christina, Editor in Chief of Scientific American, “appreciated the wry humor”. Author Mark Alpert said “the end is strangely moving”.

Illus for Don't Die Before You're Dead, Sally Wu (c) Michael Manomivibul

Image credit: Michael Manomivibul

The People’s Choice award, decided by public vote on the 20 stories shortlisted across the Open and Youth categories, goes to “The Qubits of College Acceptance” by Lily Turaski. This story of a student waiting to learn if they’ve been offered college places also impressed the Youth Category judges. “It's a nifty sketch of a scene, with a good character voice,” said physicist and author Chad Orzel.

Illus for The Qubits of College Acceptance (c) Michael Manomivibul

Image credit: Michael Manomivibul

Taking top prize in the Youth Category is “Unrequited Signals” by Tara Abrishami, in which two scientists open a new channel of communication. Author and judge Tania Hershman called it “a lovely story of love and possibilities, against the backdrop of technology and parallel universes, told with a light touch”.

Illus for Unrequited Signals (c) Michael Manomivibul

Image credit: Michael Manomivibul

The illustrations are original works by artist Michael Manomivibul.


The stories behind the stories...

Are you curious to know more about these prize-winning quantum shorts and who wrote them? Get the backstory from these interviews with the authors and the artist:

Even more reading...

If you've enjoyed the prize-winning stories, chances are you would enjoy the others that made the shortlists too. There are even more good stories among the rest of the entries

Finally, we end with a big thank you to everyone who entered and voted in the contest, to our judging panels and to our media partners and scientific partners for helping make Quantum Shorts 2015 a success.