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The Magic Staircase (1946)
Nelson Slade Bond

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A Mathematics professor develops a theory of "intra-dimensional" spaces, hypothesizing that the vast, empty spaces in atoms form a parallel dimension in which alternative histories of "what might have been" have real existence. He ends up becoming a carpenter who builds mathematically precise staircases to access these worlds (!!! one smiles at the simplicity of transforming theorems into ladders; sort of like Erdos' mathematician in reverse, who converts coffee into theorems). There isn't much Math content as such beyond this flimsy quasi-explanation for an otherwise tall-tale; it does have the charm of the old-time tales, though short on plot.

Contributed by Edursho

This was the first book I ever bought in my life, in a far away country, at age 12, with my very own money, on my very own way to school, out of a window bookstore. Today, as a professional mathematician, I am certain this book was one of the many influences toward this direction. I don't have the book anymore, of course. I am constantly looking at online stores to buy it again, to re-read it again!

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Works Similar to The Magic Staircase
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Fifth-Dimension Catapult by Murray Leinster
  2. Into the Fourth by Adam Hull Shirk
  3. Gold Dust and Star Dust by Cyrill Wates
  4. A Modern Comedy of Science by Issac Nathanson
  5. The Mobius Trail by George Smith
  6. The Professor's Experiments - The Dimension of Time by Paul Bold
  7. Through the Black Board by Joel Rogers
  8. The Vanishing Man by Richard Hughes
  9. The Second Moon by Russell R. Winterbotham
  10. The Universe Broke Down by Robert Arthur
Ratings for The Magic Staircase:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Mathematical Physics,
MediumShort Stories,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)