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Cover for Quantum Convention (Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction #17)

Quantum Convention (Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction #17)

Eric Schlich


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Winner of the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for Fiction

Quantum Convention’s eight genre-bending stories balance precariously between reality and fantasy, the suburban and the magical, the quotidian and the strange. Caught at a crossroads in his marriage, a high school teacher attends a parallel universe convention, where he meets his multiple selves and explores the alternate paths of life’s what-ifs.

The story of Margaret Hamilton, the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West, parallels the coming of age of a cross-dressing boy whose crisis of identity is tied to The Wizard of Oz. Other stories feature characters labeled as “outcasts” by society—whether physically, morally, or fantastically: an alcoholic lucid dreamer, a closeted bisexual, a bachelor time-epileptic, orphans-turned-keeners, a vengeful banshee, a nerdy cyclops, and more. Many struggle to find what Dorothy and her entourage searched for: the wisdom to trust or discount their faith; the ability of the emotionally detached to love; the courage to speak up for oneself; a place to belong.

Praise For Quantum Convention (Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction #17)

"No matter their bizarre circumstances, these characters remain intensely human, with deep and often humorous stores of self-irony . . . Quantum Convention is that rare collection that delights, expands horizons, and leaves a mark.”—Foreword Reviews
“Eric Schlich’s stories are clever and moving and disarmingly precise.”—Dolan Morgan, author of That’s When the Knives Come Down and Insignificana, and judge
“From a conference of one’s various selves across the multiverse to the movie set for The Wizard of Oz, each of Quantum Convention’s eight stories feels like opening a funhouse door on a new adventure. This is a kaleidoscope of dazzling fiction, and an excellent book.” —Anne Valente, author of Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down
“In one spellbinding story after another, debut author Eric Schlich melds the surreal and the all-too real in wondrous ways. I absolutely loved these stories.” —Elizabeth Stuckey-French, author of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
“Reading Quantum Convention is like bathing in the uncanny. Merlin ages backwards, a man goes to a convention to meet all his other dimensional selves, and a young orphan girl becomes a professional mourner at funerals. These stories walk the line between comic and tragic, resulting in a collection that crams an admirable amount of heartbreak and laughter between its pages.” —SJ Sindu, author of Marriage of a Thousand Lies
“In Quantum Convention, the familiar is made strange and the strange is celebrated gleefully. These unexpected and brilliant stories introduce an author as skillful with a daring speculative twist as he is at rendering the subtleties of marriage, loss, and growing up.”—CJ Hauser, author of The From-Aways

Schlich's first solo short story collection showcases a formidable ability to walk the emotional tightrope between uncanny setups and deeply relatable characters. . . . [T]he stories are consistently enjoyable and thought-provoking. They share an aesthetic, but they're different enough that the book seems almost too short, leaving the reader hungry for more."--Publishers Weekly

"[E]ight richly imagined, humanity-affirming tales lay new turf for short stories. . . . Eric Schlich's Quantum Convention is that rare collection that delights, expands horizons, and leaves a mark."--Foreword Reviews

"Quantum Convention will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections"--Midwest Book Review

"The strength of this book lies not only in its real, quirky, relatable characters and their credible, unique voices, but also in the powerful settings the author establishes and uses to his advantage."--Mid-American Review

"Quantum Convention is a collection that deserves to be read alongside the work of writers such as Etgar Keret or Aimee Bender, who use the fantastic and even farcical to illuminate the universal and ordinary. Like their works, this collection bends traditional storytelling forms to perform a story, and while the stories' premises seem almost laughable, in their execution, Schlich makes them exquisitely beautiful and painful."--Colorado Review

University of North Texas Press, 9781574417364, 192pp.

Publication Date: November 20, 2018

About the Author

ERIC SCHLICH’s stories have won prizes from Crazyhorse, Fairy Tale Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Electric Literature, and New South. His fiction has also appeared in Gulf Coast, Mississippi Review, and Redivider, among other journals. He received his PhD in English from Florida State University and his MFA in fiction from Bowling Green State University. He lives in Dunkirk, New York, and teaches at SUNY Fredonia.