May ’15 Prompt-a-thon: Quantum Fiction

“Mars”, by Liv/watercolor on paper

Here I go, on a nerd voyage. But there is a literary ending, so all will be well.

Just to preface, if you haven’t been reading along and don’t know it yet, I am a huge lover of all things sky: space, owls, clouds, the nigh vista. Sci-fi and moon missions were my dream parents. So, now, here is a way to share that love with you, once again.

Do you enjoy the various and truly entertaining theories that have threatened to unify sci-fi and physics? If not, you probably still have a good notion what I mean. After all, Neil deGrasse Tyson has become a pop culture icon precisely because of his ability to freestyle quantum theory and sci-fi fandom into a kind of thinkable dance mix.

My favorite theories? I am enamored with ideas about the universe as a hologram or (largely because I’m too physics illiterate to understand in entirety the difference) the crazy theory about the universe being a computer simulation—actually, more accurately, a simulation of a simulation.

“Only Sky”/marker on vellum

I love this stuff, but even if you are not a sci-fi fan (which I am), or a writer of sci-fi (which I’m not, btw, because, wow, are genres ever the unloved child of the literary family), or a physics aficionado, speculative fiction and magical realism are both red hot and calling.  Answer the call with these realism-grounded yet theory-induced prompts.


Read about the hologram and computer simulated universe here, here, and here.

Now, having steeped yourself in the wow, envision a character, or use a character you’re developing in a different story, who is suddenly struck with the insight that, yes, in fact, we are living in a simulation.

  1. Your character learns to hack the universal rules. Why not? It’s all a program. Write up to 500 words.
  2. Your character sends information to the programmers, or believes so. Your story will either depict a person falling into a well of delusion, a person discovering the means by which to alter the course of events in orchestration with their messages (or counter to…), or will ambiguously infer something more nuanced. Write up to 1000 words.
  3. Your character realizes that reality is a sham, a subroutine of a subroutine. This character maybe has a job to hate on, maybe a relationship tugging in all the wrong directions, maybe family doing what families do in stories (going overboard with the drama, the pressure, the ennui). What does this character do with the information that none of this is real? Does your character party like it’s 1999? Or…? Write up to 1200 words.

See, that’s always a great formula: Read up. Get drenched in the weird. Write about it.

“I’d Jump. Would you?”/watercolor on paper

About metonymicalpen

I earned an M.F.A. from Goddard College in 2013. Since then, my work has received the 2013 Beacon Street Prize in Short Fiction and the 2014 John Steinbeck Short Fiction Award. My stories have appeared in REED, reDivider, The Concho River Review, Sou'wester, Moon City Review, and elsewhere. Currently, I live in the desert with my family , but I am trying to move us closer to water. We need an ocean to float all of our ideas.
This entry was posted in art, cosmology, creative process, creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, inspiration, physics, quantum physics, sci-fi, short stories, space, stories, writers, writing, Writing prompts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to May ’15 Prompt-a-thon: Quantum Fiction

  1. judiwth says:

    Even though I know you are not prompting me, personally, I take the prompt personally and try to think of what I might write. It is like giving me a piece of blank pottery and a paint brush. I’ll just read what everybody else writes.

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