Flight: A Quantum Fiction Novel
By Vanna Bonta
Okay, this one seems kind of crazy and I don’t know exactly how to describe it. It’s essentially a new twist on sci-fi, establishing a tentative sort of new genre called “quantum fiction.” On the surface it’s a story about love and space travel and identity and reality—as one reviewer called it, “an outlandish new-age premise” that somehow gets converted into an interdimensional, cross-genre novel “where quantum physics meets human relationships at the crossroads of dreams and reality.”
I have to turn to some of the reader reviews for a slightly better idea of what the hell we’re talking about with the term “quantum fiction.” It sounds fascinating: about an alternate reality in which humans are able to sense quantum effects (which, though incredibly bizarre in reality, only manifest on a sub-atomic scale) as a part of our everyday reality and experience. It’s about probabilistic and multi-dimensional experience, subjective reality, coincidence and synchronicity…
To be honest, this seems like it could be ridiculous-in-a-bad-way; I’m intrigued by the premise and general idea of “quantum fiction” but dubious about its execution. But with something this supposedly radical and original, I can’t help but be intrigued! I have a feeling that plot summaries are as useless for a book like this as for “Infinite Jest”, though for very different reasons. The book has generally fantastic reviews, with a handful of excoriating ones sprinkled in (no surprise there).
I’m very interested in nonlinear narrative devices and new ways of constructing stories, and in that regard, quantum fiction (let’s call it QF) sounds super cool and promising. Now, it turns out I have some notes I compiled about QF a while back, and mostly forgot about until now. It actually seems like a pretty rich topic and maybe something I’ll present at an upcoming Idea Exchange! It has a Wikipedia article, a Twitter account, and some scholarly studies, so not just a random term found only in this book title.
From the Wikipedia article: “in quantum fiction, everyday life hinges on some aspect of the quantum nature of reality…The genre reflects the modern human experience of new perceptions about material reality as affected by quantum physics, which transcends mechanical models of science and factors in imagination and human perception as components of reality.” Check out the Wikipedia page for some more specific QF characteristics. Finally, one of the most interesting comments on QF, from Charles Platt: “Like the quantum theory, it acknowledges the observer (in this case, the reader) as an active participant.” I don’t know how that works, exactly, but I love it!