The PopFiction contest winners have been selected and contacted. The prizes will go out by mail today, and the winning entries can be found below.

For our “Kino No Tabi” contest, we asked people to tell us one thing they would change about the world. dkichline responded thusly:

There are a number of scopes in which you could change the world. They are personal, local, national, global and universal. What scope of change you want all depends on a number of different factors. However, in the end, you are limited to a single change. This single change can of course have dramatic consequences that you might never have considered. So the higher up the scope, the more risk you introducing into the system.

I personally am more of the change the world one small change at a time person. Philanthropists are a perfect example of this. You can change the world for a particular scope more carefully. As it is, said scope is usually lower down, but you can make more changes. And by affecting many people, you might actually end up helping more people as they reproduce and come in contact with other people themselves.

So in the end, with my philosophy on change, I would create an organization with the power, means and money to contribute to the world in a fair and meaningful way.

For our “Scrapped Princess” contest, we asked you to tell us what you would do if you learned you were destined to destroy the world. chad responded as follows:

This is a complicated question. First, I would question the truthfulness of my “destiny.” Does this do away with the whole concept of free will by replacing it with predestination? That’s a mighty big pill to swallow, and it’s also a topic that’s been grappled by some pretty hefty thinkers. There hasn’t been a satisfactory answer.

The best explanation I’ve heard of the “free will vs. predestination” debate is this: If I were able to accelerate to the speed of light, or just very, very close to it, my sense of time would change. Events would happen much more quickly for me than for others. At the extreme, the speed of light itself, time ceases to exist. A photon of light, emitted at the dawn of the universe, will “blink its eye” and wake up 14 billion years later when it is absorbed by a telescope here in modern-day Earth. At the speed of light, the remaining history of the universe (however many billions of years) would occur in a single instant. Time would quite literally have no meaning. Cause and effect would not make sense. If I were an all-knowing entity in this state, and was present at the birth of the universe, I would know the exact history of the universe from start to end. Yet at the same time, free will would reign within the “time” zone.

Then there’s the question of how I would learn of my destiny. Perhaps via a prophecy or a visitor from the future. There are quite a few stories, both contemporary and folklore, that deal with predestination. In some cases, such as the Oedipus legend or the original Terminator movie, the efforts made to avoid a situation end up causing it to occur. Other stories, like Terminator 2, allow the participants to change the future. It boils down to the same paradox that we see with time travel and the basic question, “What happens if I go back in time and kill my grandfather before he has any chilren?”

Fiction writers have come up with some good answers. In “Timescape” by Gregory Benford, the time travel works in a feedback loop. The horrible future contacts the past which then makes changes to avoid the future–thus negating the message from the future and causing a bad future to happen again. The goal is to modify the past just enough that the future is not quite bad enough to require sending a message back in time. In the book, Benford compares it to flicking a light switch from on to off, each time moving it a little less, until it’s at the stage where it’s neither on nor off but is both (e.g., a dim, sputtering light).

In “Thrice Upon A Time” by James P. Hogan, any paradoxical action nullifies that particular universe, and the timeline restarts at the point of the paradox. This continues until no paradoxes are generated. By sending a message back in time, the senders are destroying their universe. But, unlike “Timescape,” the message itself remains.

Another common take on time travel is that we simply cannot change the past. If I went back in time with the intention of killing my grandfather, something would prevent me from doing it. We see this in the 2002 movie adaptation of H.G. Wells, “The Time Machine.” The primary character does not understand why, no matter what he does in the past, his fiance continues to die. The answer, only found in the far future, is that he would not have been impelled to create a time machine in any reality where his fiance did not die.

I’ve also read a fictional portrayal of time travel (sorry, no reference this time), where the travel is made to an alternate universe. Or, even better, time-travel changes to the past -create- alternate branch universes. In the book I’m thinking of, time-travellers went to the past and looted artifacts. They did this with impunity, because the changes did not affect their particular timeline.

My favorite use of time travel, although it’s only one-directional, is in “The House of Bairn” by Thomas K. Martin. From a specific point in time, the number of futures are practically infinite, but as time progresses they collapse into the one, true timeline. Martin is obviously influenced by quantum theory. Mage lords can travel to the future, but the potential of selecting a non-existent future is very real. And to travel to a non-existent future would essentially be the same as killing yourself. One mage lord devises a clever arrangement to circumvent this problem. He places a beacon that will be activated in the future, allowing him to home in on the real timeline.

So what would I do if I were destined to destroy the world? Nothing. I would live my life one day at a time and deal with situations as they occur.

Both winners will receive two books in TokyoPop’s new Popfiction line. In addition to the book each contest was named after, they will also receive copies of “Witches’ Forest.” Congratulations to both!