a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Narrow Valley (1966)
R.A. Lafferty
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

This is a madcap story about a tract of land which is topologically folded through a shamanic incantation. Contains descriptions of some physical effects but explicitly states that the topological defect exists only in the human mind (photographs of the area show no anomaly). It should be compared to Baxter's "A Pacific Mystery", which talks about a similar topological curiosity, albeit one that is physical in nature. Might also be comparable superficially to Priest's 'Inverted World'. It is an enjoyable tall-tale if you leave your grain of salt aside.

I'm not really sure that this story is sufficiently mathematical to be listed on this website. Though it does mention the words "topological" and "dimension", the described phenomenon is more a combination of strangeness and the supernatural than mathematical. Still, as Vijay points out, it makes a good comparison for the (more mathematical) Inverted World and A Pacific Mystery.

First appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1966.

Contributed by Teresa

I've read several other stories by this author and this is one of my favorites.

More information about this work can be found at
(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 Narrow Valley
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. And He Built a Crooked House by Robert A. Heinlein
  2. The Inverted World by Christopher Priest
  3. The Pacific Mystery by Stephen Baxter
  4. Annals of Klepsis by R.A. Lafferty
  5. The Heart on the Other Side by George Gamow
  6. Flower Arrangement by Rosel George Brown
  7. The Higher Mathematics by Martin C. Wodehouse
  8. Another Cock Tale by Chris Miller
  9. Scandal in the Fourth Dimension by Amelia Reynolds Long (as "A.R. Long")
  10. The Snowball Effect by Katherine Maclean
Ratings for Narrow Valley:
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:
1.5/5 (4 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.75/5 (4 votes)

GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,
MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

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Exciting News: The total number of works of mathematical fiction listed in this database recently reached a milestone. The 1,500th entry is The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for writing the summary of that work (and so many others). I am also grateful to everyone who has contributed to this website. Heck, I'm grateful to everyone who visited the site. Thank you!

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)