a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|BLIT (1988) ||David Langford |
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction
by the same author)
"William E. Emba"|
Goedelian incompleteness is encoded in graphic images that
kill viewers. A new kind of infoterrorism spreads.
Originally published in INTERZONE #25 Sept/Oct 1988.
See also a fake FAQ on BLIT's which was published in the science journal
Nature (still available online at Nature.com)
and Asimov's Magazine September 2000.
Finally, you can read more about BLITs in "Different Kinds of
Darkness"...yet another story by Langford published in Fantasy and
Science Fiction's January 2000 issue.
There is a 2-page story from 1935 by Derwin Lesser called "The Fatal Glance" (Wonder Stories Feb 1935). While not mathematical, it is an early example of a BLIT-type story, where the mind gets frozen by a simple look at something that is utterly alien to the human mind (I suppose the story of Medusa falls in the same category). The author posits in the story that something beyond comprehension exists on the surface of Mars and a look at it through a powerful telescope (420-inch reflector) at close range causes two astronomers to die of petrification. He captures the basic idea of a BLIT in his final paragraphs:
"It has been said that anything imaginable by the human mind is possible. We can imagine only things and combinations of things that we have known, and therefore the most fantastic conception is not in the least bit alien in its essence. But a thing that is entirely outside our realm of experience and existence may not find a clear passage into our minds. It may have to fight its way through to our realisation, destroying as it penetrates!"
Another BLIT-like story:
Victor Contoski - "Von Goom's Gambit"
Chess Review Apr 1966
available in the anthology "Pawn to Infinity" by Fred Saberhagen
This short story describes a chess move discovered by Von Goom, a mediocre chess player who happens to stumble into it. After exploring its variations, he realises that it is an unbeatable chess combination. Rather than defeating the opponent with tactical superiority, the Gambit actually ends up maiming of killing the onlooker; in one instance, all the spectators of a tournament match are petrified and the opponent goes insane. The author explains the rationale of the move thus:
[A player's response to chess moves generates patterns] "From such patterns, you can tell much not only about the game and the players but also about man in general, and perhaps about the order of the universe. Now suppose someone discovers by accident or design a pattern on the chessboard that is more than displeasing, an alien pattern that tells unspeakable things about the mind of a player, about man in general and about the order of the universe. Suppose no man can look at such a pattern and remain normal. Surely such a pattern must have been formed by Von Goom's Gambit.
Other Blit like ideas include 'The Joke that won the War' from Monty Python and 'Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-TAH-Tee' a (1958) shortstory by Fritz Leiber
Thanks, Rob. Note that the "deadly idea" concept also appears (in a more mathematical guise) in The Killion and A Killer Theorem.
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Great News for 1 April 2016: The long awaited cover of the comic book adaptation of The Adventures of Topology Man has been released. See here for details.
(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)