“Math doesn’t lie,” I insisted.
“Well then, maybe you mistranslated it,” Haley replied.
“No. I’ve found a second way to conceptualize the world.”
I’d driven up the western coast of Michigan with my girlfriend. We both deserved a break from twelve-hour days of research for our fellowships at Harvard.
Hundreds of walkers streamed by us. Once a year on Labor Day, they open the five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge over the straights between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to pedestrians. Folks probably assumed we had stopped to admire the unobstructed view, but I was in a different world. I held a scribbled page of equations up in the wind. “Look at how beautiful this is. All three of these variables cancel, leaving a second entropic local minimum–call it EM-2. There must be a set of simple real-life physical concepts behind it.”
Haley pulled away the strands of auburn hair the crosswind had blown across her face. “Okay, Martin, now you’re talking crazy. Since when was your handwriting beautiful?”
“Smartass,” I said and pointed to the top of the paper. “Look. This is Boltzmann’s Law. It equates the entropy in a system with the randomness in a system’s microstates.
I moved my finger down an inch. “Boltzmann’s law is promiscuous–it applies to any physical property–but it’s normally used for pressure and temperature like this.”
I moved my finger down again. “But here I have an orthogonal set of concepts. These equations play together so nicely with Boltzmann’s Law that it has to mean something. A second local minimum implies there is a second way of conceptualizing the world.”
“You sound like the Ojibwa medicine man who gave me the Petoskey stone. White men run so fast they have forgotten they can fly.”
“No this is science, not superstition.”
“And when he called you a great winged warrior of grandmother Earth, that was superstition too?”
“Of course. That jumble of words could mean anything. I’m talking about a mathematical truth. Though I admit, I’m in the stage Einstein was before he understood the implications of his equations of space-time. But eventually, he came up with things like mass increasing with acceleration and gravitational lensing. And it all began with a simple set of beautiful, formal equations like these.”
“So now you’re comparing yourself to Einstein?” Haley said.
“That’s not the point. New laws of science mean new technology. New technology means new inventions for the benefit of everyone.”
Haley waved me aside. “Chill out. I can see this is important to you, but can we start walking again? My headache is coming back. Maybe we shouldn’t have left the Petoskey at the motel after all.”
“See,” I said. “That’s how superstitions spread. Now you think you have evidence for the Petoskey stone curing your headaches. But if you hadn’t gotten a headache, you wouldn’t have counted that as evidence the stone didn’t work.”
When we got back to the motel, Haley’s chronic headache went away. We changed clothes and went out for dinner, leaving the stone behind. Her headache came back. We retired for the evening. Her headache went away again. Haley was excited, but I knew better. Coincidence. Random noise. These things happen.
The next morning, I set up a double-blind experiment to prove that the stone did not possess magical healing powers. I got two identical boxes from the McDonalds next door and, out of Haley’s sight, put the Petoskey stone in one and another equally sized rock in the other. Then out of my sight, Haley put a sticker on one box, so I didn’t know which was which. I used a coin toss to pick which box to bring close to Haley’s head first, behind a blanket, so she didn’t know which box it was.
After ten trials, the score was Petoskey 10, other rock 0. I couldn’t believe it. I got two different boxes and made her do ten more, then ten more after that. The stone really did cure headaches.
We hurried to the town plaza where we’d met the Ojibwa, but he was nowhere in sight. We asked around, but nobody knew who he was. The owner of a local bookstore said he’d noticed the medicine man hanging around yesterday, but had never seen him before that. We browsed in the bookstore while we waited for the medicine man to come back. He never did, but we found some interesting books.
In the antique books section, Haley found an illustrated Hamlet. She opened it to a picture of some men talking while a ghost lurked nearby. “How appropriate, don’t you think?” she said. “‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'”
“Alchemy,” I said.
I had opened a fat tome titled “The Science of Alchemy.” I read a passage from the introduction. “You must become as a child and encounter the world for the first time, for that which is fundamental to alchemy is not in the ordinary way men perceive the world.”
I leafed through the book. How to select the right plants and minerals. How to distill concentrated solutions. Recipes I didn’t understand.
“Alchemy is the answer,” I said. “Alchemy had a well-developed, empirical, alternative way of conceptualizing the world before science came along and displaced it. Alchemy will help me develop EM-2 theory.”
I was distilling essence of sumac while a batch of tin from my jerry-rigged smelter cooled on a bed of sea-salt crystals when I got the call to the dean’s office. Highly unusual. Maybe he wanted to congratulate me on my upcoming article in the Journal of Mathematical Physics.
The dean waved a copy of the student newspaper at me. “We thought we were admitting a brilliant theoretical physicist to the University, but it turns out you are just a crazy who knows some math.”
He opened the newspaper and pointed to a picture of me with my tin smelter and the headline, “The Alchemist of Cruft Hall.”
“You’re making the physics department a laughingstock,” the dean said grimly. “Major donors have complained. The President of the University is alarmed. No more alchemy.”
I was starting to sweat. “I understand the irony of using pre-science to advance modern science, but it’s better than starting from scratch. Some of the rules for EM-2 theory ought to occur in alchemy, just as some of the ideas behind the scientific method did. And, empirically, I may already be onto something with my old-fashioned tin smelting. Sometimes I get a batch of tin that cures Haley’s headaches, sometimes I don’t. I’m trying to figure out what makes the difference.”
“That’s another thing.” The dean was getting red in the face. “Your girlfriend’s headaches are not science. They are not independently verifiable. You two have probably worked up some kind of parlor trick.”
He had me there. It had turned out that Haley’s Petoskey stone only cured her headaches when I was around.
I gulped and said, “Math doesn’t lie. I have a proof that there is more than one way to aggregate microstate probabilities for atoms–like grouping people by their favorite ice cream flavor instead of by gender. We’ll find different laws for group behavior. We’ll benefit humanity in ways we can’t yet imagine.”
“There is no ‘we.’ There is no alchemy at Harvard.”
“You’ll see. Six months just isn’t enough time. My physics fellowship is good for another year and a half, and I have a good start on real-world implications, so I should be able to demonstrate proof of a second local minimum for entropy to your satisfaction by then.”
The dean slammed his fist on the desk. “Maybe I haven’t made myself clear. You had a fellowship in physics–not alchemy. You will leave this building and never come back.”
The dean pointed to the door. His face was set. His eyes hard. “I have no choice. You have no choice.”
I found two University security officers in the hallway with a cartload of my stuff. They made me push the cart.
Professor Albright, my faculty sponsor, caught me on the way out. “I’m sorry, Martin. You’ve been snookered all right. Is there anything I can do?”
“Get my fellowship back.”
He laughed as if I were joking. “Besides that. Have you thought about what you are going to do next?”
Next? My head was still trying to grasp what had already happened. But I didn’t want to give up on EM-2 theory. It had so much potential for revolutionary new materials and devices. Alchemy still seemed like the most promising entry point. Where could I study alchemy?
“Actually,” I said. “I could use a letter of recommendation to the Vatican Library from a recognized scholar like you.”
Albright stiffened. “I had to sign an affidavit saying I’d have nothing to do with alchemy ever again. I don’t know what would happen if word of that got back to the dean.”
“You can predate it.” I was desperate. “You said you wanted to help.”
He frowned. “All right, but don’t ask me for anything else. I don’t know what you’ve stirred up here, but I don’t want any part of it.”
I pushed my cart of boxes out of the building and stacked them on the curb. I didn’t have access to a car or a utility drone capable of lifting forty-pound boxes, and I lived seven blocks away. I estimated it would take me six trips to carry everything to my apartment, leaving the rest unguarded while I schlepped back and forth. I called Haley for help.
She took longer to come than I expected and arrived in tears. “I can’t believe it. They terminated my fellowship too. They accused me of faking data. They accused me of colluding with you to prove alchemy.”
Location was the only good feature of the apartment Haley and I rented in Rome. We had to walk up four floors of stairs in a rundown building to get to our room. There wasn’t space enough in the kitchen for both my alchemy apparatus and meals. But the apartment overlooked the west bank of the Tiber River, just a few blocks from the Vatican Library.
Fortunately, the Vatican Library was phenomenal. I could request practically any obscure document, and assistant librarians would bring me a copy. I’d made more progress in understanding the theory of alchemy in the last month than in the previous six, and I was making parallel progress on the equations governing EM-2 theory. A basic assumption of modern science is that the fundamental laws of physics are independent of location in spacetime. But I proved that was not true in EM-2 theory, and that location affected alchemical transformations.
One morning at breakfast with Haley, I was particularly optimistic. “Yesterday I asked for everything Roger Bacon had written. The librarians brought me a basketful of books and papers, and I found an unpublished manuscript that referenced a pseudonym Bacon had used to circumvent the church’s censorship after he became a monk.”
Haley sipped her Americano. “Who’s Roger Bacon?”
I nearly choked on my eggs, but in all fairness, she knew a lot of things I didn’t. “He’s a famous English alchemist who is often cited as the father of the scientific method. Anyway, I got hold of his work under the pseudonym, and it explained clearly how to identify Alchemical Mercury and Sulfur.”
Haley set her cup down with a clatter and shrugged. “What’s the big deal? Everybody knows how to identify mercury and sulfur.”
“I said Alchemical mercury and sulfur. Not the same at all. Alchemical Mercury and Sulfur are invisible essences that can belong to a variety of chemical compounds. Bacon says most locations tend to be high in Alchemical Sulfur, which interferes with many alchemical transformations. I’m only halfway through his manuscript. I can hardly wait for the Library to open today.”
We finished breakfast, and I took the sunny sidewalk to the Vatican Library, where my day dimmed considerably.
The guard on duty stiffened as I approached. He barely glanced at my ID. “I’m sorry. No admission.”
“But I always come here,” I said. “I’m on the approved scholar list. Just check.”
“You are no longer approved. Your credentials were revoked.”
I blinked dumbly while his words soaked in. Then I gritted my teeth. I had a copy of Albright’s letter with my research materials and went straight to the head librarian’s office to appeal.
Over an hour later, an officer wearing a Swiss Guard uniform burst into the room. “I’m General Bolitho. You appealed for access to the library?”
“General?” I stammered out. “I thought Colonel was the highest rank in the Swiss Guard.”
“You know less than you think you do.” His dark, empty eyes sent a shiver up my spine. “The Chief Librarian does not determine admissions to the Library. I do. You are studying Roger Bacon?”
“Yes,” I said, taken aback. How did General Bolitho know this? Why? The dean’s reference to major donors came back unbidden.
“And what are your credentials for the study of history?” the general asked.
“Um. I guess I’m self-taught.” I realized too late where that answer would lead, so I tried to deflect. “But I have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford. I’m studying science, not history. I’m interested in re-creating the pre-scientific phenomena that alchemists studied.”
“What phenomena, exactly?”
“The transmutation of lead into gold, for one,” I said, “since Alchemists wrote about that in detail. Their recipes include variables modern science routinely excludes, like the alignment of the moon and planets, or the purity of the person and place of the experiment. They describe a golden elixir that brings purity to anything it touches, turning lead to gold, and sick or aged bodies into healthy youth. Their claims are likely exaggerated, but I think there may be a new scientific principle at work in their recipes.”
“You have made this magic potion?”
“I’ve tried, but so far without success,” I replied. “But it’s not magic. It’s science–built on an alternative solution to minimum entropy as required by Boltzmann’s Law.”
Bolitho shook his head. I could see that he’d already made up his mind. “Go back to America. Study cosmic rays or carbon nanotubes. Any fool can see that turning a lump of lead into a much denser lump of gold would violate the laws of physics. Your appeal is denied. The Vatican Library is off-limits to you–permanently.”
I opened my mouth to object, but my objections collapsed. Bolitho was right. Even if I found new laws of physics, I couldn’t ignore the old ones. Converting a lead object to gold would nearly double its mass.
I shuffled out of the library in a daze. I went by the post office and picked up our mail. I stopped at a café for a glass or two of Chianti. Eventually, I found myself back at our apartment. Haley was doing something with a map of Italy on the kitchen floor.
“Canned again,” I announced. “I give up.”
“That’s not like you,” she said. “What’s the matter?”
I grabbed some wine and glasses from the counter and slid to the floor beside her. “The Vatican Library revoked my research privileges, but the real problem is that I’ve wasted a year of my life. There’s a fundamental flaw in the idea of converting lead to gold. Lead isn’t as dense as gold, and if the density changes, that will violate the law of conservation of energy. My theory was supposed to add to regular science, not contradict it.”
I poured a glass of wine as Haley said, “What about uranium? Isn’t that more dense than lead?”
“Yeah, but uranium has the opposite problem. It’s more dense than gold.”
Then I stopped pouring. There was no requirement to start with lead. Tungsten might work. Tungsten had a density almost identical to gold, and thirteenth-century tin smelters knew about tungsten, or Wolfram as they called it.
I pulled my legs under me to stand up for the espresso machine. “Thanks. You solved the problem.”
Haley laughed. “Anytime. Who’s that letter from.”
I’d forgotten about the mail I’d picked up. The envelope on top had my name and address printed in block letters and no return address. I ripped it open and read:
Be careful. Some bloke who claimed to be an FBI agent came round Cruft Hall asking for you, and if you’d left any notes behind. I think the dean told him you went to Rome. I checked. He’s not FBI.
The hair on the back of my neck prickled. “It has to be from Professor Albright. But who would want my notes?”
Haley’s eyes had dilated. She squeezed my arm. “The same people you had you expelled from Harvard and from the Vatican Library. Whoever it is, they are mean and powerful. I don’t want to be around these people.”
I started cramming my notes and alchemical compounds into my backpack. “If there’s a conspiracy to suppress alchemy, that’s all the more reason to get proof. General Bolitho knows I’ve been experimenting. They’ll want my equipment. My books. My notes. We have to leave the apartment now and not come back.”
A week later, I was casing the church of Saint Mary Major in Ilchester, England.
Haley and I had splurged on a night out in Rome and then fled Italy. I’d proposed marriage to her. She said yes, and I bought her an engagement ring with a tungsten band–a symbol, not just of our commitment to each other, but of an unconventional approach to the world. I had the ring engraved with the beginning of our favorite quote from Shakespeare: “There are more things…”
Ilchester was where Roger Bacon had lived before joining the Franciscans. Not much remained of thirteenth-century Ilchester, but the church of Saint Mary Major was a medieval stone edifice built to last. I was betting that Bacon had cleaned the tower of Alchemical Sulfur and hoping that it remained clear after all these years. A slim chance, maybe, but the most likely location I could think of to prepare an elixir to transmute tungsten into gold. I carried a tungsten rod engraved with an elaborate seal by the same jeweler who did our engagement ring. When I returned with a gold rod, and he certified the seal on it, I’d have the proof I needed for EM-2 theory.
A conjunction of the moon would occur in four days at 1:13 am–a line drawn from the center of the moon to the center of the sun would pass right through Ilchester. The old texts agreed that interference from celestial currents of Alchemical Sulfur was minimal at conjunction.
The parson lived in the lower half of the tower. The Archbishop of Canterbury had sealed the upper half in the 1400s. I had to figure out how to get inside that tower at conjunction.
I took the Saint Mary Major tour three times. Then I spent the last of our savings on some climbing gear and burglary tools, including a large bolt cutter with crowbar handles. I packed the tools and my alchemy supplies into two backpacks–one for me, one for Haley.
The night of conjunction was foggy. The moisture in the air brought out the smells of spring in the churchyard–crocus flowers, rosemary, and spruce. Haley said a headache was coming on. We had left her Petoskey stone behind. I still didn’t know how it worked, but it might interfere with the alchemical background. I plucked a bright yellow crocus flower and laced it into her hair. “Saffron comes from crocus stamens, and Moorish alchemists believed wearing saffron brought good luck.”
We used a small drone to hook a rope ladder over the parapet of the church tower and climbed to the roof. An ancient trapdoor led to a wooden ladder fitted to the wall with wooden pegs. The LED lanterns on our headbands illuminated shelves of dust-covered bottles, books, and copper pots.
Something on the far side of the room glinted in the light. We crossed to a workbench full of clean glassware and bottles of colored liquids, some of which bore labels with UPC codes. A black rubber hose snaked from a Bunsen burner to a propane tank under the bench.
“Someone had been doing alchemy here very recently,” I said.
“I can’t lift this alone,” she said as she tugged at an oak beam on the floor–the crossbeam for the door to the inner stairway.
I helped wrestle the beam across the door to make sure no one interrupted us. Then I unpacked my handcrafted ingredients and laid them out on the workbench. What remained was simple: combine the ingredients in the right order in a bath of fire during the conjunction of the moon at a location depleted of background Alchemical Sulfur. The result should be a golden elixir capable of transmuting tungsten to gold.
It was 1:06. Seven minutes to go.
A heavy pounding shook the door. “This is Her Majesty’s police. You are trespassing. Surrender immediately.”
I couldn’t stop now. I might never have another chance like this to prove the value of alchemy and the EM-2 theory equations. I lit the Bunsen burner and poured my liquids one by one into an open beaker over the flame. The many-colored fluids combined to form a clear liquid, presumably via chemical reactions of the usual kind, but I wasn’t chemist enough to be sure. I was reaching for the dry ingredients when I heard a buzzing sound. I glanced over to see the point of a saber saw poking out between the planks of the door. It began cutting through the oak crossbar.
“Break the blade,” I shouted to Haley. “Whack it with the bolt cutter.”
While Haley wrestled with the saber saw, I sifted the last three powders into the beaker. The liquid became cloudy and then cleared again. This was wrong. All accounts were of a yellow elixir.
I heard two loud whacks and the twang of a saw blade under stress. The buzzing noise stopped. A minute later, Haley called from the door. “They’ve started making an awful whining noise. It’s making my headache worse.”
The elixir started to steam. Maybe the heat would change its color, or maybe the conjunction of the moon, but I doubted it. More likely a missing ingredient in my recipe. My watch said 1:11. Two minutes to go.
Something crunched through the door. I turned my head in time to see a drill bit retreat from a hole in the crossbar. Six or eight of those holes in a row would be as effective as the cut of a saw.
“Catch the drill bit with the bolt cutter,” I yelled to Haley.
My elixir started to boil. My watch blinked 1:12. I began to sweat for no good reason. “It’s still not the right color. Something is wrong.”
Haley groaned with frustration. “This bolt cutter is too heavy for me. Two more holes and they’ll be in.”
It was 1:13. Conjunction.
My hand trembled as I dropped the tungsten test rod into the beaker. Clear elixir. Silvery rod. No gold.
“I need more time to think.” I ran to the door and took the bolt cutters from Haley just in time to grab the drill bit with them. I squeezed as hard as I could. It was a thick drill bit. Hardened steel. There was no way I could cut it, but at least I could keep them from pulling it back and drilling the final hole.
Haley went over to the lab bench and sniffed the elixir. The crocus flower in her hair was the only yellow thing in the area.
The bit in my bolt cutters came free, and I fell backward. The whine of the drill resumed. They must be using another bit. They’d be inside in a few seconds.
The crocus! Maybe saffron was more than just good luck to alchemists. “Haley! Drop the flower in the beaker.”
She looked surprised, but yanked the flower out of her hair and threw it in.
The beaker belched and shot a spray of hot liquid out onto Haley’s hand. She yelped and fell backward into me, just as the weakened crossbeam gave way, and two Bobbies with Tasers barged in. “Hands in the air. Step away from the table.”
I’d never realized how ugly and threatening the business end of a Taser could be. We raised our hands.
The police captain looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place him. He went straight to the workbench, reached into my beaker with a pair of tongs, and pulled out the tungsten rod. “Not science. Magic,” he said.
I knew that voice. “General Bolitho! What are you doing in a Bobbie uniform?”
He laughed–a dry laugh devoid of joy. “I have acquired many positions over the centuries.”
Before I could process the implications of Bolitho’s words, Haley gasped and whispered, “You did it.”
I followed her gaze to the workbench. My world stopped. The rod glinted gold. Tungsten transmuted to gold. Alchemy worked. EM-2 theory was proven. But Bolitho had the proof.
Bolitho dropped several more tungsten rods one by one into the pale yellow elixir. They turned to gold, up to number twelve. The next one stayed gray, as if the power of the elixir was exhausted.
He put the gold rods into a pouch.
“By English law,” Bolitho said. “You are a felon. The 1403 declaration by King Henry IV prohibiting the multiplication of gold in England is still in effect. Your false gold is forfeit to the crown, and you face the death penalty.”
“England hasn’t had the death penalty for decades.” I tried to sound assertive, but my voice echoed thin and reedy against stone walls laid down centuries ago.
Bolitho’s mouth curled in a wry smile. “I will choose which of England’s laws to enforce. I am a peer of Roger Bacon and a guardian of alchemical knowledge. Don’t you get it yet? Bacon invented science to limit the scope of intellectual inquiry. Later, our friend Goethe created Faust to remind men to stay within that domain. You have transgressed. You have conjured the elixir of life.”
I bit my lip. “Like I told you in Rome, I want to find the deeper laws of physics. New science means new technology. New devices. Better lives for everyone.”
Bolitho glared at me. “No, alchemy means anarchy. False gold will collapse the economy. Long life will overburden the food supply. Society needs stable laws that work everywhere, all the time. You will not be allowed to spread knowledge of the elixir of life.”
I heard the depth of Bolitho’s determination, and I was afraid for my life.
Bolitho signaled his companion to hold some kind of amulet near my chest. It glowed with a dull blue light. He did the same to Haley. Then he handed the pouch of gold to his companion and said, “The gold you made tonight ought to fetch ten thousand pounds. I could use a good apprentice. Join us. Swear to secrecy.”
I let out a huge breath. “What? Join you?”
I could learn more alchemy from Bolitho in a few weeks than I could discover on my own in a lifetime. He must be over five hundred years old. This was the opportunity I’d have been waiting for, had I known it existed.
I started to open my mouth to say he had a new apprentice, but I remembered Haley’s words back in Rome. I don’t want to be around these people. They were mean and powerful. They were selfish, too. I didn’t want to be like that. I wanted my work to benefit everybody.
I gulped. “Is what you said about studying cosmic rays or carbon nanotubes in America still an option?”
Bolitho pursed his lips, then said. “That was a surprisingly potent elixir of life considering that there is nothing special about your personal alchemy. How did you do it?”
Sweat beaded on my forehead. I didn’t know. A lot of luck. But I had understood how some of the components worked with the help of my EM-2 theory equations, and I had improved upon the theriac and the alchemical mercury catalyst described in Bacon’s recipes.
“I told you before,” I said, “Equations derived from a second perspective on Boltzmann’s law. I’ll give you those equations if you let us go.”
He stared at me with curiosity for a few moments, the way an adult might regard a clever child. “If you will not join us, you must agree to abandon the pursuit of alchemy, and of this new kind of entropy you keep yapping about. Will you swear to this? Will you swear never make the elixir of life again?”
Something clicking in the back of my mind. Potent elixir, but I wasn’t special. I glanced at Haley. “How’s your headache?”
She looked at me like I was an idiot. “It hurts.”
I looked Bolitho in the eye. “No more alchemy. I swear.”
He gestured to a notebook on the workbench. “Write down the equations.”
I wrote out the EM-2 theory equations and noted how I believed the variables connected to alchemy.
When I was finished, he studied the notebook for a minute, nodded approval, and then raised his arm until a bony finger nearly touched my nose. “Do not break your promise to forsake alchemy. Do not reveal these equations to anyone else. We can detect alchemical transformations anywhere in the world. We can get to you or anyone else anywhere in the world. Do you understand?”
His eyes bored into me. I felt weak and exposed, but I held his eye and said, “I do.”
Haley nodded vigorously beside me. Bolitho curled his lip in disgust and pointed to the door. “Get out of here before I change my mind. Take the next plane to America.”
Haley and I hurried down the stone stairs of the tower and out into the bright moonlight.
My legs felt wobbly. My heart felt light. I gave a little laugh. “So much for EM-2 theory. Now we know alchemy is real, but we still have no proof of it.”
Haley held up her hand. “Yes, we do. Take a look at this.”
Her engagement ring glinted in the moonlight, but not with the silver of tungsten–with the yellow of gold.
“Of course. Let me see it,” I said.
The inner surface of her ring was gold, too. A solid gold ring. I read aloud its inscription. “There are more things.”
“Yeah,” Haley sighed. “A whole second world of alchemy. It’s a shame we have to give it up.”
“Not so bad,” I replied. “That splash of elixir turned your ring to gold, but it didn’t cure your headaches. Bolitho said I wasn’t special in any alchemical way. Yet your Petoskey stone only works in my presence.”
“So, there are more things. . .” she echoed.
“Exactly. There is an EM-3, a third entropic local minimum. And the Ojibwa know something about it. We should begin our return to the States with another vacation in Michigan.”
Jim Meeks-Johnson’s published short stories include Thunderstone in the Six Worlds anthology and By the Numbers in Aurorawolf.com. Three of his short stories received Honorable Mentions in the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. Jim has been a slush pile reader for Flash Fiction Online and is a futurist writer for SciFutures.