"[D]escribed on the cover as a science fiction novel, which is two
mistakes in three words...it is [mathematical fiction], and it is a
collection of short stories that originally appeared in The Magazine
of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the early fifties. As far as I
know, the only edition was a Curtis Books paperback, 123-07051-075,
cover price 75 cents, 224 pages. The most famous stories are The
Mathematical Voodoo, The Hyperspherical Basketball, The Factitious
Pentangle, and The Malignant Organ. The hero is a math professor
named Cleanth Penn Ransom."
"William E. Emba".|
"The Frederick Norwood write-up about THE SINISTER RESEARCHES OF
C. P. RANSOM ponders if the $.75 paperback is the only edition.
Well, my copy is the $2.95 Doubleday hardcover, with cover
illustration by Edward Gorey.
"Norwood also does not mention that the original magazine stories
were padded out for the collection, having the stories refer to
earlier ones and by adding a grantsmanship framing plot."
Math professors frustrated by students who can't seem to learn
mathematics no matter how it is presented to them might want to check
out Mathematical Voodoo in Fantasia
Mathematica. Another one of these stories was reprinted, The Hermeneutical Doughnut in Mathematical
Magpie. Other than this, these stories are really difficult to
find in print anywhere these days.
"I have read my hardbound copy (I got it in a bargain book bin for 29 cents!) well over twenty years ago. I've read it until it's dog-eared and annotated to the point of dementia. But it did kindle a keen interest in mathematics in me that continues to this day. I have found it to be uproariously funny and have often wished that some director (Lucas? Spielberg?) would put it onscreen (with Harrison Ford as Ransom and Will Smith as McTate, perhaps?) with as little editing as possible. In short, it is a memorial and delightful read."
Your page on Homer C, Nearing, Jr.'s "The Sinister Researches of C. P. Ransom" has (1951) after the title. But my copy of the Curtis Books paperback has a copyright date of 1954 and says the stories appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 1950-1953.
A really funny and cleverly written book. I came to it because of the Edward Gorey jacket illustration for the Doubleday hardback edition.
Dr. Nearing was one of my professors during my years (1970-1974) at Penn Morton College/Widener College (now Widener University). To see the man in class you would have no idea that he could ever have written such a work. He invariably wore a gray suit with a white shirt and maroon tie, to which he added a maroon knit vest in winter, and clip-on sunglasses in spring. Once he began to teach, however, the combination of wit and intelligence that could create Cleanth P. Ransom became wonderfully evident. He loaned me his own copy of the book when I was unable to find the lone copy owned by the college, and I enjoyed it immensely. I would love to track down a copy of my own. I took every course he taught, from short story writing to Elizabethan poetry, and was saddened when I read of his death in my alumni magazine. I am glad to see his work has gathered a following.
Dr. Nearing was my academic advisor at Pennsylvania Military College, and one of my classroom teachers as well during my 4 years (1962-1966). My one-on-one academic meetings with Dr. Nearing were inspiring. I never knew he published CP Ransom until he revealed it to me in a conversation. Until then he was just my "advisor". He challenged me to find a copy (I believe it was out of print by my senior year) and if I did he would autograph it for me. Years later I did obtain A F&S pulp with one of the stories. Alas, he had passed on. He did also hint that he "ghosted" for some of the top Science Fiction writers of the 50's and 60's. Viewing these pages brought me back to my military college days of yore...and Doc Nearing!
Dave Driscoll /
PMC Class of '66