Crystal Night

Imagine that you and a friend are strolling through a museum of modern art like the Guggenheim in New York City. You stop in front of a large painting intrigued by its kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. Both of you stare for awhile, interpreting what you see in your mind’s eye. Then you are asked to remain silent as you write down your thoughts independent of one another. If you have been asked, what does this painting mean? would both of you reach the same conclusion? Or is it more likely that you will have completely divergent impressions? I think the latter, don’t you? Such is the nature of the human mind. Our sub-conscious is influenced by our life experiences and in turn, this can color our imaginations even when observing the same thing as someone else.

Now imagine that not two, but fourteen, award winning authors were asked the same set of ‘what if’ questions and told to write a story. How different or how similar would their interpretations be of the same idea? This is the premise of The Alvarium Experiment, a ground-breaking reinvention of the short fiction experience. Fourteen authors came together around a central premise and produced fourteen unique stories that will be published on the same day (very soon). Both the authors and the readers will experience the differences and similarities at the same time.

I’ll let you in on a secret that won’t be a secret for much longer. What is the ‘what if’ question they were asked?

The ‘What If’ Question of The Prometheus Saga

What if an alien civilization landed a probe on Earth at the dawn of mankind? What if this probe, a form of artificial intelligence, could morph into any human form, take on any human identity, either male or female? What if this probe had a lifespan of hundreds of thousands of years and was on a mission to report everything it could about us to its home planet? And finally, what would this humanoid observe and learn over centuries of human existence when placed inside the hot crucible of life on this planet?

This is The Prometheus Saga. Fourteen stories about a probe whose alien identity is as mythic as Prometheus, the demi-god who was said to have brought fire to man. Spanning the millennia from the earliest times of recorded history: from ancient civilizations, the age of explorers and inventors; through times ripped by revolution and war; The Prometheus Saga promises to deliver unusual insights as fourteen authors interpret how an alien presence would experience the greatest events in human history.

I was very fortunate to be a part of this unusual writing experiment. Today I’m please to announce my contribution to the first series from the Alvarium consortium called The Prometheus Saga:

Crystal Night, A Tale of The Prometheus Saga by Charles A Cornell

What if the Prometheus probe lived through one of the darkest moments of our history? What if it came face to face with the growing evil that was the Third Reich on its ascent to power. As the Holocaust accelerated, would Prometheus remain a spectator or become a participant?

Crystal Night, an alien probe experiences the onset of the Holocaust from inside the Third Reich

Crystal Night
An alien probe experiences the onset of the Holocaust from inside the Third Reich

Crystal Night is a novelette length story set in three parts. It opens on the night of November 9, 1938 in a night club in the heart of Nazi Berlin. There is suspense and intrigue as a night club owner and her newest employee, a bartender with a mysterious past and even more mysterious talents, are confronted by the Gestapo and the dreaded SS. Through the night of November 9, known in history as Kristallnacht or Crystal Night, the night club owner’s shadowy past collides with an otherworldly presence. By the morning, Berlin is awakened to the marching of storm troopers on their infamous quest for the supremacy of a master race. What power does a single person have to resist such evil? What value does a single life have when millions of lives are at stake?

Here is a sneak peek at part of the cover for Crystal Night. Look for the full cover reveal very soon. The publication date will be before the end of January.


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Post by Charles A Cornell

As an author, my overactive imagination fills my mind with three dimensional puzzles of stacked what-if questions that cry out for answers. You can find me fueling my creativity amidst the chaos of a very busy life in my writer’s den where I dream up whimsical adventures that range from the satirical to the macabre which I then blog about on

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