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Science Fiction Puzzle Tales (1981)
Martin Gardner
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Contributed by Vijay Fafat

This is the first collection of science fiction puzzles which Martin Gardner wrote for the Issac Asimov Science Fiction Magazine. A number of these puzzles are mathematical, all very enjoyable. The preface:

(quoted from Science Fiction Puzzle Tales)

When Isaac Asimov and George Scithers began planning Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (henceforth, IASFM) in 1976, George approached me at a gathering of the Trap Door Spiders, a curious club to which the three of us belong, to suggest a puzzle feature. Was it possible, he asked, to weave a puzzle into some sort of science fiction vignette or pastiche? In other words, present the puzzle with a SF story line. If so, would I be interested in doing this as a regular feature for the new magazine?

The idea was intriguing, especially since I had once perpetrated two SF stories based on topological curiosities: “The No-Sided Professor” and “The Island of Five Colors.” I cleaned up an off-color combinatorial problem, never before published , for my contribution to Volume 1, Number 1, dated Spring 1977, and have been writing the puzzles ever since. I enjoy writing them and I know from letters that readers like to work on them.

This book brings together the first thirty-six IASFM puzzles. To almost all of them I have added a postscript, which allows me to explain some (not all) of my compulsive wordplay, to thank whoever should be thanked, to discuss feedback from readers, and to suggest books and articles containing interesting material relating to the puzzles. Good puzzles are usually jumping-off points for serious mathematics. You’d be surprised how much math you can learn by exploring some of the implications and ramifications of what may seem at first no more than a trivial brainteaser.

See also the sequel Puzzles from Other Worlds.

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Works Similar to Science Fiction Puzzle Tales
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Puzzles from Other Worlds by Martin Gardner
  2. The Puzzling Adventures of Dr. Ecco by Dennis Shasha
  3. Conned Again, Watson! Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math and Probability by Colin Bruce
  4. Crimes and Math Demeanors by Leith Hathout
  5. A Tangled Tale by Lewis Carroll
  6. Visitors from Oz : The Wild Adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodsman by Martin Gardner
  7. The Extraordinary Hotel or the Thousand and First Journey of Ion the Quiet by Naum Ya. Vilenkin
  8. Not a Chance by Peter Haff
  9. Hilbert's Hotel by Ian Stewart
  10. The Kissing Number by Ian Stewart
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GenreScience Fiction, Didactic,
TopicLogic/Set Theory,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)