The Quantum Pen

The Quantum Pen
"The Quantum Pen." Created by Marcel Gagné using DALL-E 3.

Before we get into the story, I need to set this up.

A couple of days ago, I signed up for's Pro offering. In case you've never seen it, Perplexity is a kind of AI powered search engine. While it has access to AI chatbots like OpenAI's GPT4 and Anthropic's Claude 3, it's not a chatbot in the sense of those particular offerings, but really more of a search engine like Google, one that understands what you're looking for, finds the information, arranges and summarizes it, and then provides appropriate links so you can go look up and verify the information. It's Google on steroids. It's also fantastic for research and fact-checking.

As part of the onboarding process, if I can call it that, Perplexity asked me about myself so we could set up a profile that it would use to determine how best to help me. Once done, Perplexity made a suggestion that caught me a little off guard. It offered to write a story about me, and if I agreed, asked for the genre I would like it to use. I accepted the offer and suggested science fiction because, well, I'm me.

This, "The Quantum Pen," is the story that it wrote. Enjoy. Or don't.

Marcel Gagné sat at his desk, staring at the blank screen before him. The cursor blinked steadily, taunting him with its rhythmic pulse. He sighed and leaned back in his chair, running a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair. Writer's block was a familiar foe, but today it felt particularly oppressive.

As a science fiction writer, Marcel was used to letting his imagination run wild, dreaming up fantastical worlds and futuristic technologies. But lately, the well of inspiration seemed to have run dry. He glanced at the framed photo on his desk - him and his two boys grinning in front of a telescope under a starry sky. Marcel smiled wistfully, remembering simpler times before the responsibilities of adulthood had settled heavily on his shoulders.

Suddenly, a bright flash illuminated his study. Marcel shielded his eyes instinctively. As the light faded, he cautiously lowered his hand to see a strange metallic object sitting on his desk. It looked like an ordinary pen, sleek and silver, except for the fact that it was emitting an ethereal blue glow.

Curiosity overcoming his initial shock, Marcel reached out and picked up the pen. The moment his fingers made contact, a jolt of energy surged through his body. Images flooded his mind - towering alien cityscapes, vast nebulae swirling with color, biomechanical creatures unlike anything he had ever imagined. The visions were so vivid, so tangible, it felt like he was actually there, immersed in these incredible alien worlds.

As abruptly as they had begun, the visions ceased. Marcel found himself back in his study, still gripping the strange pen. He looked down at the blank screen, and suddenly the words began to flow, his fingers flying over the keyboard with superhuman speed. The story poured out of him in an exhilarating rush, every detail crystal clear in his mind as if he had lived it himself.

Hours passed in the blink of an eye. When Marcel finally stopped typing, he had written over fifty pages - some of the most original, captivating science fiction he had ever produced. Drained but elated, he leaned back and marveled at the mysterious pen. Where had it come from? Who or what had sent it? And what was the extent of its power?

Over the next few weeks, Marcel continued to use the pen, crafting story after story of astonishing depth and imagination. His writer's block had vanished, replaced by a constant stream of inspiration that bordered on obsession. He barely slept, barely ate, pouring all his energy into his writing.

But slowly, Marcel began to notice changes in himself. At first they were subtle - a heightened perception, lightning-fast reflexes. Then came the dreams, hyper-realistic visions of alien worlds that lingered long after he woke. Marcel began to suspect the pen was changing him on a fundamental level, rewriting his very DNA.

As his writing gained recognition and acclaim, Marcel was invited to speak at a major science fiction convention. Standing before the eager crowd, he reached into his pocket for the pen, intending to share the secret of his success. But as he withdrew his hand, he froze in shock.

His skin had turned a shimmering silver, just like the pen. Panic rising in his throat, Marcel fled the stage, ignoring the confused murmurs of the audience. He raced back to his hotel room and locked the door, his mind reeling.

Looking in the mirror, Marcel saw a stranger staring back. His eyes glowed an unearthly blue, his features subtly altered. With dawning horror, he realized the pen hadn't just been giving him inspiration - it had been transforming him into something no longer entirely human.

Marcel made a decision. He couldn't keep the pen, couldn't risk losing himself entirely to its cosmic power. With a heavy heart, he took one last look at the unfinished manuscript on his laptop, a story of first contact that now seemed all too prophetic. Then, in a flash of blinding light, both Marcel and the pen vanished, leaving behind a legacy of groundbreaking science fiction and an enduring mystery.

Years later, whispers still circulate through the writing community of Marcel Gagné and his inexplicable disappearance. Some say he ascended to a higher plane of existence, his consciousness merged with the infinite expanse of the universe itself. Others believe he journeys still, exploring the uncharted reaches of space and time, pen in hand, weaving stories yet untold.

But one thing is certain - the fiction Marcel left behind continues to inspire and challenge, a testament to the enduring power of imagination. And perhaps, in some distant corner of the cosmos, a shimmering silver figure sits before a blank page, ready to begin anew.