Quantum work as a type of the experimental fiction by V. Ulea
(artworks by Irene Frenkel)
Everything had started with Snail.
[1] It was a slow-developing storylette (that's how I proposed to call its genre) but after it eventually came out of the "shell" it gave me a lot of trouble. In the beginning, the genre had been so much fused with the story that it became nearly impossible to dissect them. It had been a truly quantum entanglement,[2] understanding of which came to me only after a long-term struggle with my creation.

Anyway, for those who are not familiar with Snail, its seven stories are united by a single "plot" and the same group of characters. This makes it look like a novelette. On the other hand, instead of chapters, the work consists of single stories. This makes it look like a cycle of stories. For quite some time I wasn't able to see the duality until some smart editors reasonably pointed out the strange abnormalities of Snail. Only owing to their questions and bewilderment had I realized that the thing was neither a cycle of stories nor a novelette. Then what is it, I wondered, scrutinizing the creature that didn't give a damn and just relaxed on my desk. Puzzled by that truly Heisenberg uncertainty
[3] surrounding the work, I have finally referred to quantum physics for answers.

After a few painful readings of the incoherent, from the point of view of a literary person, physical texts I had concluded that Snail belonged to the realm of "quantum" works (QWs). There you go, I mumbled, knowing I was in trouble. Naturally, my next thought was to get rid of the thing. Alas! It shielded itself with the uncertainty once again and each time I discovered its location I lost its momentum so when I jumped up to catch it, it was already somewhere else…

Oh, well, I had sighed, this might be my karma.

This, however, wasn't it. Very soon I had noticed another strange thing about my creation. One time it appeared like a literary work, and another time it behaved like a being. I would've predicted this turmoil had I learned carefully the quantum duality according to which, matter exhibits itself sometimes like this and sometime like that.
I had been stubbornly trying to catch the meaning of the "quantum" beast. One day, I was about to enter the shell in which it had been hiding, but it was pitch dark in there and I could've crushed it easily. Should I stay outside or should I enter, I wondered, remembering poor Schrödinger's cat who had eventually turned into his own paradox that managed to survive unlike the cat…
[4] Even if the
shell would clone itself numerous times as the many-worlds theory [5] states, and even if the poor thing survives in the parallel shells, I still would mourn for the crushed one… Why? Because it would be an interaction between us and I'd be bound with the memory of it, with the tragic experience we both had… The snails in parallel universes have no relation to me! They are as unconcerned with my existence as I am with theirs. We are not bound in those parallel worlds. We're strangers there. Here, however, we are as close as the cause and effect, and if I become the cause of its death it will affect my life!
I was about to howl as I heard the Snail talking to me from the shell.

"Physicists!" it had smirked. "They're like bad novelists. No sane editor would publish such muddle! Particle, wave, duality, many-words… What's going on in their heads? They'd do anything to satisfy their model, even kill innocent creatures or make them suffer indefinitely in the parallel prisons of their own helplessness! Shut up and calculate!
[6]That's right!"

Oh, what a smart creature, I thought, scrutinizing its spiral galaxy. It's a descendant of curved space, after all… No wonder it's so brave! On the other hand, what could snails possibly know about physics?

Nevertheless, I took a napkin and made a few notes after it, just in case.

Here's what I've gotten so far.


I. Definition
The Quantum Genre is an emerging type of the experimental fiction. By the experimental I mean a genre that, according to Darin Bradley, has not "undergone as much consideration" as "'cleaner,' non-hybridized works… with mainstream speculation." Bradley refers to such mode as the "little weird."[7] Using his term, I would call QG "weird-weird." 

To qualify for QG all or some of the following principles must be applied to a work:
1. "quantum" duality of characters
2. the uncertainty effect
3. quantum entanglement
4. "quantum" time
5. the observer/interpreter effect

II. Quantum Physics and Quantum Fiction: Likeness and Deviations

1. Quantum Duality. What is quantum duality? Simply speaking, according to quantum physics, a particle can appear either as a particle or a wave, but not simultaneously.  Physicists compared the phenomenon to a tossed coin that may fall either heads or tails up, but never both at one time.

2. Physicists argue that the duality is a matter of representation. If you measure a thing as a wave it will reveal the wave quality. Analogously, if you measure it as a particle you'll see its other quality. The measurement can't be done simultaneously therefore, they say, the thing can't be both at once. Well… It's very much in human nature to ascribe our own limitations to the Universe. Anyway, in QG everything is possible, including the simultaneous duality of characters. To see the "two sides" of the "moon" one should be a keen interpreter.

3. Let us speculate a little bit about the thing that owing to its dual nature is sometimes addressed as "particle" and sometimes as "wave." According to Heisenberg, "Every particle has a wave associated with it; each particle actually exhibits wavelike behaviour."
Naturally, such "hybrid" inspires one's artistic imagination. Below is another representation of the "hybrid" as seen through the eyes of a literary person.
4. It seems that the particle and the wave may also be compared, correspondingly, to a point and a domain. Metaphorically speaking, the point-particle could be a container of various properties that are compressed.  The "decompression" occurs when the particle is set in motion due to which it "unfolds" in space like a bud, exhibiting the potential qualities. The "decompression" causes not only quantitative, but qualitative changes, as well. The qualitative leap may occur as a result of a surge of energy during the "big bang" of the particle when it turns into a wave. The "potential" wave, at this point, may be viewed as a rolled up spiral "dreaming" inside the particle and waiting for the time when it can unfold.

5. An alternative representation of the particle, therefore, could be a compressed spiral structured from various potential properties revealed in the wave.
6. Regarding the "quantum" character, from the static - i.e. analytical - point of view, it reminds more of a "compressed spiral." No potential properties can be revealed unless one knows how to "unfold" them through "quantum" synthesis. [8]Importantly, the character's inner capacity, its predisposition "unfolds" not as its psychology or philosophy, but as a constant "modeling" of "weird realities" through its ever-wondering consciousness. To see better what I mean please read the excerpt below. The segment is taken from D.W. Green's new novel, Kim Chi Flying Fish. [9] It depicts the main character's post-death experience.

I turn my head slowly to the right and there he stands; a great length of a man, seven feet tall while hunched. His skin so grey and flat he seems a statue. His eyes are so bold and bright that in contrast to the night it is as if the sky has acquired two extra moons. His stare slices through mine and even though I try to force him from my thoughts he remains, uninvited, analyzing my soul.

To my left I feel a tremor...

A door appears just beyond the edge of the cliff and swings open. Through it I see the reverse image of all the millions of stars. Only these, in this reverse universe, seem more robust. Somehow this new sky is more complete.

I look back at the intruder who is now almost standing over me, reaching out, attempting to gather me up in his cold hands.

I lunge toward the door not knowing its true destination and am caught in a swirling metaphysical sandstorm. Swept away by this cyclone of anti-thought, I'm carried to a place which my instincts tell me is but another point on my own circle.

And I begin to see...