"How do you expect me to give you a passing grade on this? In the first place: where is your experiment?"
Well. There was that. Lew and Professor Zappencackler looked around the demolished laboratory. Yep: still gone.
"I could repeat the experiment," Lew started, but Zappencackler wasn't having that. "Why bother? Your laboratory looks like a proper one - " he gestured at the missing ceiling and the exploded wall "- but it's all for show, isn't it? You tell me you placed a telephone call into the future. And if so, what then? Is that impressive? Is it remarkable? I could get the same result by mailing myself a letter."
They stepped over the ruined masonry into the parking lot. "I despair of you, Stone. Your design and execution are excellent... but you have no inspiration. No élan. No style. You claim that you created a device of total annihilation.... by accident! As a side effect of your experiment! Even if you'd submitted the working doomsday device I could not, in conscience, accept it - because you didn't have the vision to try to build it in the first place. The device might be inspired... but, Stone, you yourself... are not."
They stood in silence.
Zappencackler put his hand on Lew's shoulder. "I've recently come into possession of the effects of someone a lot like you, Stone. You might profit from his example. Osgood Finnegan began as a simple watchmaker and might have stayed one, except that one day he acquired the exact visionary quality that you so badly need. I would like for you to examine and catalog his artifacts. You may start tomorrow."
Zappencackler looked right and left. "That's very strange," he said. "I was certain that I parked my rocket... right here.