At the start of this year, Futures ran a competition challenging readers to write a science-fiction story in just 200 characters. After a difficult judging session, we’re pleased to award first prize to Catherine Rastovski, who wins a year’s subscription to Nature plus a gift voucher for the Futures 1 eBook. Five runners up — Adam Flanders, Arran Frood, Judith Reeves-Stevens, Anssi Sajama and Chaim Schramm— also receive gift vouchers for Futures 1.
I pass your empty chair every day. Across the room sits the computer, your voice, your face locked inside. I ache to bring you to life, but fear keeps me in my chair. What if you say no? Catherine Rastovski
Cynthia was learning faster than anyone had predicted. The apparently totipotent cells continued to proliferate at an exponential rate. Today would be the last time they would refer to her as a mouse. Adam Flanders
The champagne tasted unpredictably sour, the time traveller thought, as the press cameras flashed. Even the world-record lottery win was nowhere near enough to repair the broken machine. Arran Frood
Off that switch, Professor! Your time machine can’t travel back in time past the moment of its own creation and instead will trap the Universe in an endlessly recursive time-like loop! Take your hands Judith Reeves-Stevens
Silence. I floated around through corridors, filled with debris. No flickering lights, no air, no sound, just memories I could not grasp. Alone. I released my air supply and became part of the debris. Anssi Sajama
The robot knows when you turn it off. Those last picoseconds, as the current drains from its circuits, are a living Hell. When you turn it back on, it will never be the same. But it will remember … Chaim Schramm
You can read more of the commended competition entries that impressed the judges here.