Nathan's Laserium: 40.2

Dear Gentle Friends,

It pains me a great deal to reveal this to you, but I know my duty, and thus I will persevere.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Jennifer Foehner Wells—by day: mild-mannered science fiction novelist, by night: Cthuloid hunter.

My degrees are many and varied. I’ve studied biology at Monmouth College, plant ecology at the University of Illinois, cellular phantasmogography at Stanford, soul transigence at Oxford, clairoleofactor remanence at Hogwarts.

~ you might recognize me by the Twitter handle @Jenthulhu ~

I must inform you that the man you call Nathan Waddell is a fraud.

Yes, you did, indeed, read that correctly.

He passes as a humble husband and father to two little girls, with fitness fetishes and inclinations toward tattoos, comics, and writing. He may have told you, YES! HE REALLY IS AN OPEN-PIT COAL MINER!

And you believed it.

No, dear friends—what Mr. Waddell performs in his slimy brimstone coal pits of misery is not a genuine operation, harvesting ancient dinosaurs turned fossil fuels. NO!

No, it is a Lovecraftian horror.

When Waddell descends into those dark pits, he connects with none other than the ancient city of R’lyeh. He may look like a man, but if you catch a glimpse of him from the corner of your eye, you will see the tentacles, the wings, the vaguely arthropodal form.

Behold! What happens when we take a closer look at his innocent birthday celebrations of yestereve?

Happy birthday to me! Today is my 40th birthday. Except it's not, in realtime when I'm typing this. I have to write it ahead of time so it can be ready to post. When you get to read this it will be my birthday. What I'll actually be doing on this milestone day is working in a coal mine, hopefully not having a terrible day in hail or snow. I can almost guarantee I won't have much time to reflect on the past 40 years, so that is what I will do now, starting with year zero: September 11, 1974....

Nah I'm just playing. What is there to say about 40, anyway? Just a number that happens to be a multiple of 10, which happens to be the number of fingers we have and therefore the base for our counting system. If we were octopus people, we would likely use base 8. Uh, in which case 40 would be kind of a big deal too, right? 8X5? I don't really get how numbering systems that aren't base 10 work. Don't even get me started on binary. How can 1s and 0s count up all the way and even make computers work? God.

Binary stars are pretty cool, though. What's your favorite? Mine has to be Algol, Beta Persei, the demon star. A Tolkienesque name with a Lovecraft sensibility. One imagines it to be home to witch-kings and Great Old Ones with names like Angsoth-kil or something. At 93 light years from Earth, however, it's not exactly relevant to this post, I'll grant you, but it's pretty cool. The binary system that is 40 light years out is Beta Trianguli Australis. So if you happen to be in the Southern Hemisphere you can look up at it and see light that's the same age as me. Add your wishes to mine and maybe all our hopes and dreams can come true.

I remember when I turned 30, I made some goals. One of them was to have an article in National Geographic by the time I turned 40. And as you can see, that goal has been realized several times over! Now would be a good time to let it be known that I use the nom de plume David Quammen. (Please don't sue me Mr. Quammen, I'm only joking.) Now I find most of my hopes and dreams center around my little ones. And I try to keep them vague, to allow them room to grow into their own dreams. Like right now, my oldest daughter says she wants to be a ballerina/bug scientist in Brazil. Which would be so awesome! But next week she might have a change of heart and decide veterinary medicine is more her cup of tea. Since she just started kindergarten, there's time to find her path. Whatever your little heart desires, sweetheart! My job and responsibility is to nurture her young soul so she can grow into a healthy and mature adult who can make her own decisions wisely.

I do have some dreams of my own, mostly to do with writing I suppose. Since my National Geographic goal turned out to be way off, it might be best if I kept those to myself. For now I'll be happy enough to get home from this awful coal mine and devour some birthday cake.

I ask you: is this the work of a man or an enemy of life on Earth as we now know it?

Be wary, dear friends.

Be wary.

Jennifer Foehner Wells admits to being a bit of a hermit, but happily tolerates two boisterous boys, a supportive husband, a filthy Labrador retriever, and three pet rats as housemates at their home in Indiana. Having studied biology, she's possessed with a keen interest in science and technology. Jen is pure, unadulterated geek and celebrates that. FLUENCY, her debut novel, has taken the space opera genre by storm, selling 35,000 copies in less than three months.

You can find her on Twitter, extolling science and scifi fandoms, as @Jenthulhu.

To find out more about Jen visit: www.JenniferFoehnerWells.com

Find FLUENCY on Amazon or ask your local bookstore to order it.

(Nathan here again. So my secret is out! No matter, your souls all belong to me already. Haha! Huge thanks to acclaimed sci-fi writer Jen Foehner Wells for taking part in this, uh, extended birthday celebration. Yes. Celebration. Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahahaha! Now, make sure to follow her on twitter and like her on Facebook and especially to buy her book!!)

- Nathan Waddell