To Jesus, the original wordsmith


The smart phone you don’t think to call your Mom on on her birthday but then use to order a lavish “I’m sorry” bouquet. The tablet you bought for “work” but then gave you an excuse to reconnect with your old flame over late-night MMORPG quests. The refrigerator that keeps your food cold and now, inexplicably, has an Internet connection. None of these devices would be possible without experimentation, without women and men willing to push boundaries, try new things, and never settle for what had already been done. That’s what this magazine is for Story Lab, a bold quest into uncharted territory.

With the opportunities technology now affords, we want to take storytelling to new levels. We want to try things that no one has before. So with this magazine, our grandest and most ambitious experiment yet, we chose the theme of invention. Stories that circle around something new. An object or device or idea that bursts into a character’s reality and changes everything that comes after.

We've tried to integrate innovation into the very pages of this magazine. We have a story that you can only access if you solve a puzzle, a story scavenger hunt (that can net you a shiny new e-book), and a story you'll only view if you meet the author at an event (or you can try to convince him to give you the code over Twitter, Wattpad, Facebook, or Google+). But we'll also bring you more traditional stories with design and visuals that enhance the experience.

As Thomas Edison said, “Invention is ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration.” And so we have worked hard to invent stories that surprise, delight, intrigue, and inspire. As you go forth from these virtual pages, may you don your automatic conscience, email your loved ones, believe in Santa, break the cycle of pride, accomplish the impossible, travel through time, and, most of all, inspire.

At Your Service,

John C. Rhea
Chief Story Scientist, Story Lab
Chief Boring Abstract Writer, Story Lab Magazine


Thanks to everyone who helped make this a reality, but particularly to my wife Carrielyn, who hasn’t given up on me yet.

Issue I was edited by the ever inventive Kelly McNees (@komcnees)

Story Scientist

  • Deborah Durant

Associate Story Scientists

  • Cheryl Sandas
  • Evaristo Ramos, Jr.
  • Frank Lee
  • Nan Dawkins
  • Nathan Linnell
  • Steve Sciscione
  • Tim & Sandy Boone

Assistant Story Scientists

  • Amanda Johnson
  • Craig & Karen Fiedler
  • Dan Coleman
  • Dana Pierce
  • Debra Weiss
  • Eric Fine
  • Joy Brazelle
  • Molly Fulton
  • Ray Nedzel
  • Robert Rhea
  • Trey Mitchell

Artistic Lab Managers

  • Brian and Jan Rhea
  • John Racine
  • Natalie Alexander

Experimental Lab Managers

  • Alaric Hammell
  • Chris Neiger
  • Jason Diebler
  • Katie Kassof
  • Sahtiya Hosoda Hammell

Lab Managers

  • Amber Lautigar Reichert
  • C. Alan Wright
  • Dale Strickler
  • dan!
  • Emily Ely
  • Jane Friedman
  • Jason D Jaszemski
  • Kevin Hubbard
  • Kristian Perry
  • Les Cool
  • Lisa Senyk
  • Michael T. Miller
  • Nick Skriloff
  • Zack Prichard

Lab Assistants

  • Area Man
  • Chris Simmons
  • Dave Jaffe
  • Griffith Ruck
  • Larry Larraga
  • Mike Kurec
  • Sherol Chen
  • Warren Craghead


  • I.Z. aka IDzeroNo
  • Stan Trent

And an extra special thanks to those who contributed but chose to remain anonymous. You know who you are, and I’m grateful.

Finally, thanks to for the use of the font RbNo2.

About the Author

John Rhea is the Mad Chief Story Scientist behind Story Lab. Since 2012 he’s posted a story a week on the blog that was this magazine’s forebear, Story Lab.

John hails from the great imperial state of Delaware. He counts among his compatriots many other people that no one has ever heard of. He studied computer science in college (like a big nerd) and, still not knowing what he wanted to be when he grew up, film and electronic media in grad school. He brought his technical (nerd) and artistic (still nerd) sides together in web design (the only marketable skill he could come up with). That road, combined with his storytelling, led him to create the very app in your hands.

John lives in the less imperial state of Virginia, near Charlottesville, with his beautiful, amazing wife (whom he somehow bamboozled into marrying him), three amazing sons (they get that from their mother), two inquisitive cats, a neurotic dog, and a continuously fluctuating number of fish (there have been a lot of toilet salutes in our family).

Fine Print

All content copyright John Rhea and/or StoryLab LLC, except for images whose authors have licensed them for our use or which are in the public domain. Blahdy Blahhhdy Blah. Ok, so you’ve read this far, you’re obviously a detail person. Now that talent can net you a free e-book. Answer the following questions and email your answers to

1. A photo is repeated in this issue. Who are the characters in the photo? Hint: They may be characters from different stories. 2. What is the maximum possible distance between a location mentioned in "The Time Machine" and a building bearing Amelia's surname? 3. Where is the narrator from "The Year Santa Got Stuck" moving to? 4. Which way to Led Zeppelin? 5. On what bridge did Mr. Fitzgerald die? Happy Hunting!