A long time ago, I read a short story in which there was a man on a train who learns how to control the rolls that come up on dice. The way it's phrased is that he maintains a certain pattern in his mind, and as a result, the rolls of the dice always come up totaling seven. The story implied that the ability wasn't general telekinesis; it only influenced chance events into coming out a certain way.

The story ended with the implication that this would be a world-changing event, but it didn't go into the details.

If I had to guess, then I'd claim that Ray Bradbury wrote it, but I really have no idea. I read it some time around 1997, but the book or anthology was rather older than that. As best I can remember it had a 50s-to-60s feel.

Anyone have any idea what story this was?

  • Probably not what you're looking for, but in Greg Egan's Quarantine, technology is used that allows a person to prevent the collapse of quantum wavefunctions on a macroscopic level as long as desired, and then to consciously choose which resulting state things will collapse to, effectively providing human-controlled luck.
    – Eric Smith
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 4:03

1 Answer 1


This sounds similar to the plot of Kurt Vonnegut's first short story, "Report on the Barnhouse Effect", though in this story the protagonist (one Professor Arthur Barnhouse) eventually ends up doing quite a bit more than controlling dice -- but the way in which he accomplishes it sounds very similar to your description.

  • 1
    +1 Very good odds on this one; it appears in the anthology "Welcome to the Monkey House" and I am certain that I read WttMH as part of an anthology at a similar time. I will check it out.
    – jprete
    Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 14:56
  • Definitely it! Thank you. It's still a good read also.
    – jprete
    Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 16:12

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