|How would you feel if your daughter could make deep mathematical
discoveries, even when she was a toddler? If you were the parent of
little Star in this story, you'd feel a combination of pride and fear.
Star and her equally smart little friend not only discover the
interesting properties of the Mobius strip on their own,
they also discover higher dimensional generalizations which allow them
to travel to other points in time. ("Do they travel to the future or
the past?" you ask. Oh, you clearly do not understand the topology
of spacetime. Let Star explain to you why this question does not
The only places I have seen this story reprinted are the collections Mathematical Magpie and Time Machines, but
it is currently available online at archive.org.
"I first saw this in "Tomorrow's Children", edited by Isaac Asimov. If you look at the review of Tomorrow's Children at Amazon, you will see that this story is memorable enough that it is mentioned in some of the reviews.
I'm torn between 2 and 3 as far as the math is concerned. Math (well, geometry) isn't as central to this as, for instance, "He Built a Crooked House", by Heinlein. It's probably more important than the stange, hyperspatial geometries that appear in some of Lovecraft's stories."
Note that this story was transcribed for radio's "X minus 1." It aired in April
of 1956. Also
note that Star Bright is very similar L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in TIme." Instead of
father hunting down
children lost in time/spave, children hunt down lost father. Same vehicle, the t
esseract is used in both.
A teacher read Star Bright to my class years and years ago. I still find it as amazing as ever, it's rather depressing (not literally) to believe that their is a perfect circle of life. Yet in its context, the book seems to be explanatory, not a tale. I've been looking for another copy of it everywhere ever since.
As a gifted teen, I've noticed a classification like the one in the story fits well. Though Star would call me a tween, I classify folks in 3 main categories - bright/gifted/"smart" like myself, "stupid", and everyone in between. Wonderful story.
Great Story. My sister and I read this together, shortly after it was published. We now read it to our grandchildren, while we struggle with how to ease the way of exceptionally bright children. Our educational system focuses on the lowest common denominator, how can we find and free the minds of children like Star?
I first read "Star Bright" when I was in Jr. High, in the collection "Tomorrow's Children". This story really struck a chord with my young self (I'm 52 now). I was already interested in sci-fi, but this story helped to cement the love into place permanently. Although there isn't all that much math in the story, nevertheless, it helped stimulate my interest in math by the mention of the Moebius strip and it's higher dimensional analogs.
I really enjoyed this story because it depicts the struggles that exceptionally bright kids encounter as they try to fit in to the mold of the general population. It also gives insight about how a parent deals with having a genius child. Along with mathematics, the time-traveling aspect adds another dimension to the plot.
Star, Bright is probably my all time favorite short story, possibly because of the age at which I read it. It was published ca. 1955 in a compilation called The Mathematical Magpie, Clifton Fadiman, ed. This book (MM) was reprinted ca. 2005. At that time I purchased a copy, although I since lent it to someone and it was, resultantly, lost. I'll pick it up again one of these days.
The MM compilation consists of short stories and poetry, all with a mathematics theme of some sort, without requiring a deep knowledge of any particular branch of mathematics. Star, Bright can be understood by a typical teen but will likely not be of great interest to the typical teen.
I withdrew MM from my local public library in, perhaps, 1960. It is indicative of both the literary quality and the magical content of the story that, at age 62, I'm wistful to re-acquire the book and re-read the story. Other notable stories: The Pacifist, The Tachypomp. It's indicative of how often I withdrew that book from the library that, fifty years later, I remember the story titles. As well as one of its poems that I memorized at the time. ("I think that I shall never see a calculator made like me... A me that likes martinis dry, and on the rocks, a little rye... A me that looks at girls and such, but mostly girls, and very much... They make computers for a fee but only moms can make a me." I don't remember the author or title, and there are a few couplets missing.)
To anyone who has a really bright kid of age 10-12 who's into more than the latest phone app, MM is a must-get. I hope Star, Bright strikes some child's imagination with the impact with which it struck mine.
Chuck the Nerd Barbarian
I Loved this story! I remember reading as boy of 9 or 10. My favourite line from the story? "I must somehow cube the cube..."
I have been looking for this short story for decades........thank you for this!!
By far my favorite story of Math Fiction is Clifton's "Star, Bright". When I googled for the story recently, the first hit I got was your page which talked about it, but did not have a way people can read it.
Fortunately, there's a solution. The copyright has expired, so you can legally host the story on your page. Or, if you're unsure about the legalities, you can just link to it at archive.org:
P.S. The Gutenberg Project (gutenberg.org) has, after extensive research, determined that the copyright for "Star, Bright" was not renewed. (See here.)
P.P.S. Non-renewal of copyright is actually the case with a lot of stories published in scifi pulp magazines of the 1950's. This has been a huge blessing for people like me who were born too late and would like to be able to peruse the early SciFi and speculative fiction. (See here.)