Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition returns for one last call

The international Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition has opened a new call for entries.  The contest is free to enter and is accepting submissions until 8 January 2024.  

Organised by the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore, this is the final open call in the competition series, which has alternated between annual calls for creative quantum films and flash fiction since 2012. 

EQUS is once again supporting the competition as a scientific partner, along with other leading scientific institutions around the world.  The competition is also supported by media partners Scientific American, the longest continuously published magazine in the US, and Nature, the international weekly journal of science.  

Dr Charles Woffinden, EQUS Research Fellow and shortlisting judge for Quantum Shorts, said EQUS is delighted to once again support Quantum Shorts: “It’s bittersweet to be approaching the final event, which has thrived for over a decade, thanks to the organisers’ dedication and the participants’ boundless creativity.  However, we are eager to embrace what the future holds and to immerse ourselves in the forthcoming competition.  As a passionate reader of fiction, I in particular am genuinely excited about the opportunity to evaluate this year’s competition entries.”

To enter, writers must craft a story no longer than 1,000 words that takes inspiration from quantum physics.  The story must also incorporate the phrase nobody said this was going to be easy”.  

The phrase comes from a quantum researcher in “Helping Hands”, the more recent story to claim first prize in Quantum Shorts.  In that story, by Cora Valderas, the researcher was grappling with the unexpected outcomes of an experiment.  Writers may empathise as they plot about the trials and tribulations of building quantum devices or the complexities and uncertainties that govern the quantum world. 

Writers stand to win a First Prize of USD1500, a Runner-Up Prize of USD1000 or a People’s Choice Prize of USD500.  Up to ten shortlisted entries will also win a USD100 shortlist prize and a one-year digital subscription to Scientific American.

A panel of distinguished judges will select the top two prizes.  They are physicist and popular science author Chad Orzel, science writer George Musser, author and editor Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Director José Ignacio Latorre from the Centre for Quantum Technologies, speculative fiction writer Ken Liu, Senior Editor Leonardo Benini from Nature Physics, and writer and visual artist Tania De Rozario. 

“Humans love stories.  That’s why we have supported Quantum Shorts for more than a decade.  We were thrilled and surprised by all the ways writers got inspired by quantum physics in previous editions.  Now we’re opening our final call, we hope to be amazed and astonished again,” says judge José Ignacio Latorre. 

The deadline to enter is 23:59 GMT, 8 January 2024.  Entries can be submitted to Quantum Shorts via its website (shorts.quantumlah.org), which also features a full set of rules.  The website also has resources on quantum physics and writing. 

Major funding support

Australian Research Council

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present.