I once found myself saying, ‘Imagine inventing a random-number generator that was actually completely random—wouldn’t that be cool!?’ I realised very soon that it wouldn’t be cool in every sense of the word. Imagine taking it to parties and demonstrating it to people, and trying to explain to them how great it was; how many people would be impressed?
In a similar vein, I’ve long liked the idea of writing a short story in which the main character, a rationalist, wakes up to find that an unbelievable, yet incredibly trivial, miracle has occurred—something for which the only explanation seems to be supernatural, but whose triviality almost defies awe (maybe all his coat hangers have linked in the night, or his red pen has turned into a green pen). How would you react? I’m not sure how I would.