MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Land of No Shadow (1931)
Carl H Claudy
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Claudy's regular characters, the brilliant Alan Kane and the brawny Ted Dolliver, journey into the fourth dimension in this pulpy SciFi story. The tennis balls that journey into this trans-dimensional gateway return inverted, while a person who does so luckily returns only as a mirror image, with left and right inverted. [Or is it lucky? Because of the importance of chirality in biochemistry, left-right inversion would also be a fatal transformation. See Technical Error, for example.]

This story came to be listed in this database with the assistance of two helpful site visitors. The first was Donald Coe, who had a vague recollection of a story but was unable to remember the title or author. What he said was:

Contributed by Donald Coe

Here is what I can recall about the short story: The story is told in first person. It opens up with the narrator telling that he has a watch that runs backwards and his heart is now on his right side. He then talks about how this came to be. His friend was very brilliant (said he was one of the few people who understood Einstein’s theory of relativity) And Abbot’s book “Flatland” was discussed. His friend constructed a portal through the 4th dimension and in to a parallel universe. The two men threw tennis balls through the portal. The balls bounced back! However it was inside out the red rubber inside was on the outside and the fuzzy surface was on the inside! The two men got their 38 automatics and other gear and passed through the portal. I believe in separate trips. However at one point they went together. At any rate, one way or another they found themselves on a shore of a sea. At one point, they saw a strange creature that changed shape. The brilliant friend explained that the creature had four dimensions. Thus when it passed through our own three dimensions it changed shape. Just like a sphere passing through a plane in flatland. At another point in the story one of the men falls asleep and wakes up in a pit. When he manages to get out the two men figure out that to the fourth dimensional creature the construction of a pit is no more of a problem than for a three dimensional creature to draw a circle around a flatlander. In the end something terrible happens and the brilliant friend is trapped on the other side.

From this description, Mike Gannis was able to identify it as "The Land of No Shadow by CH Claudy. He wrote:

Contributed by Mike Gannis

I first read this story in an anthology when I was about eleven years old. Even then it seemed odd to me that when the rubber balls returned through the portal they were turned inside-out, but when the narrator returned he was only reversed right-to-left. The topology of the explanation seemed fishy, and I thought the explorer was darned lucky that *he* didn't return inside-out ...

Thank you Mike and Donald!

There have been at least two versions of this story published, and I am not certain whether both of them read the same one. It first appeared in February 1931 issue of American Boy and then was adapted into a novel as part of the Adventures in the Unknown series in 1933. Apparently, that series also appeared in comic book form, but I have been unable to determine if this story was so adapted. Does anyone know if "The Land of No Shadow" was made into a DC comic?

Contributed by Hank Davis

What I think is the short (magazine) version of "The Land of No Shadow" was reprinted in an sf (not, please, "sci-fi") anthology titled The Year After Tomorrow, edited by three people, of whom Lester del Rey was probably the real editor, published by John C. Winston as the only anthology in their Winston series of juvenile books. (What would now be called YA books.) All the other Winston Juveniles, IIRC, were novels.

Contributed by James D. Keeline

Alex,

Since I have been gathering the American Boy issues containing science fiction stories by Carl H. Claudy (and a few others), I had occasion to Google and see what web pages are out there. I will likely put together a summary of these stories for Yellowback Library, a juvenile series book magazine established in January 1981 and now issued monthly.

Juvenile series books embraces books like Tom Swift, Nancy Drew, and others lesser known. The readers were typically 8 to 16 years of age and the books had recurring characters (though not always continuing plots). In this case, Claudy is known for a four-volume series of books in blue cloth called The Adventures in the Unknown series published by Grosset & Dunlap between 1933 and 1934.

The stories themselves first appeared in American Boy as nearly novel length stories in a single issue or as many as four issues. Many other stories did not get issued in book form, however.

The first of these stories was "The Land of No Shadow" in the February 1931 issue, covering 10 pages. It features illustrations by Manning de V. Lee. Character names mentioned include Alvin Gaylord, Dr. Kurt Arronson, and the first-person narrator, Jerome Llewellyn Berkman. Alvin and Jerry are roommates and while Alvin is studious, Jerry is athletic.

The magazine version of the story was reprinted in The Year After Tomorrow (Winston, 1954) along with a couple other Claudy stories from American Boy, "The Master Minds of Mars" (1931-32) and "Tongue of Beast" (1939).

These latter two stories feature Claudy's typical protagonists, the young Dr. Alan Kane and his athletic friend, "Ted" Theodore Dolliver. He is sometimes nicknamed "mastodon" in the stories. In this dynamic, Kane is seeking answers to the world's mysteries through science. One of Ted's responsibilities was to read all of the newspapers in search of articles that would open new avenues of research for Alan.

The four books in the Adventures of the Unknown series all featured Dr. Kane and Ted Dolliver. The stories are rewritten from their magazine versions. In this case, The Land of No Shadows was the third book in the series published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1933.

All four of the books have illustrations by A.C. Valentine where only one of the Claudy magazine stories has them. In addition to a frontispiece and jacket illustration, the books have elaborately illustrated endpapers with scenes from the book. The front and back endpapers are different.

Later, four Claudy stories were adapted by DC into their All-American Comics. This title was not one of them. Instead, they were "Mystery Men from Mars" (using the book title of "The Master Minds of Mars"), "A Thousand Years a Minute" (again using the book title for time travel to the past), "The Infra-Red Destroyers" (the magazine title for a serial about invasion from Venus where the enemy cannot be seen under conventional light), and "Rescue on Mars" (a retelling of the "Return to Mars" serial).

Probably the version most likely read by your correspondent is the magazine story included in the anthology, The Year After Tomorrow (Winston, 1954) which was poised to be read by Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1952. After this, the next most likely is the book from 1933. The magazine from 1931 might be seen but only by someone who was born in the 1920s or did a lot of reading of old magazines.

I do not, at this time, have a word count for the two versions of the story. From what I have read, the book is not only lengthened, but the character names have changed and the ending has changed.


I will try to think of some other stories with a mathematical theme. My primary area is children's and juvenile books. I did make a bibliography of time travel fiction and occasionally there is a mathematical component to these. The key will be finding something you have not already heard of or found. I'll look over your classified ads to this end as I have time to do so.

More information about this work can be found at www.sf-encyclopedia.com.
(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to The Land of No Shadow
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Appendix and the Spectacles by Miles J. Breuer (M.D.)
  2. Plane People by Wallace West
  3. Technical Error by Arthur C. Clarke
  4. The Next Dimension by Vladimir Karapetoff
  5. A Subway Named Moebius by A.J. Deutsch
  6. Star, Bright by Mark Clifton
  7. The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges
  8. An Episode of Flatland by Charles H. Hinton
  9. Blinding Shadows by Donald Wandrei
  10. Spacetime Donuts by Rudy Rucker
Ratings for The Land of No Shadow:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2/5 (1 votes)
..
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)
..

Categories:
GenreScience Fiction,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry,
MediumNovels, Short Stories,

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Your Help Needed: Some site visitors remember reading works of mathematical fiction that neither they nor I can identify. It is time to crowdsource this problem and ask for your help! You would help a neighbor find a missing pet...can't you also help a fellow site visitor find some missing works of mathematical fiction? Please take a look and let us know if you have seen these missing stories anywhere!.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)