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"Tokyo homeless people reiterate the whole nature of living in Tokyo in cardboard boxes, they're only slightly smaller than Tokyo apartments, and they have almost as many consumer goods. It's a nightmare of boxes within boxes."
- William Gibson

  An incomparably beautiful and rare jewel.  

This description is a <* SPOILER *> for the story, so don't read it if you would still like to enjoy the story - it's still a good read!

The jewel, against the black velvet, was a drop of living, incredible light. A little crystal sphere, no larger than the end of his thumb. But the dancing color and splendor within it some- how filled his eyes with tears.

That's a hell-stone!

Haldane was trained to deal with minds, not with machines. He recognized a big atomic converter, but most of the gleaming silent bulky things were strange to him. There was a wide crystal disk, with a metal star set in the middle of it. A huge open glass tube was suspended below — or, really, above it.

"You needn’t be afraid, Miss Carnadon.” Then she was the kidnaped heiress! "I’m not going to kill you.” Brand made a short, harsh laugh. “On the contrary, I am going to make you virtually immortal.”

Brand touched buttons at an intricate control-board. Motors hummed. The huge transparent tube descended, to enclose the helpless girl. Brand nodded, and the two men went clicking out of the room. The atomic converter began to thrum.

Presently a second star-shaped electrode, in the tube above the girl, was tufted with hissing blue fire. Arms of terrible crackling flame reached down from the points of the star, toward the screaming girl.

A thick luminous mist filled the tube and hid her struggles.

At last he stopped the thrumming converter. The shining mist disappeared and the star ceased to glow. The girl was gone. There were only her empty garments and the stretcher — and a tiny point of shimmering fire.

A hell-stone!

From Star of Dreams, by Jack Williamson.
Published by Comet in 1941
Additional resources -

Compare with the star stone from Doorways in the Sand by Roger Zelazny - also a <* spoiler*>!

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Star of Dreams
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Williamson
  Tech news articles related to Star of Dreams
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Williamson

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