MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Sword Game (1968)
H.H. Hollis
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Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A topologist manages to create a time-smeared tesseract whose interior moves extremely slowly through time (from our perspecctive) while the exterior moves at the normal pace. He uses the tesseract to demonstrate how living animals with seemingly mortal wounds can recover when trapped inside the tesseract and then snapped out. The mathematician falls in love with a young student and gives up his day job at the university to become part of a travelling circus, entertaining people by stabbing his girlfriend in the tesseract with a short sword and having her recover miraculously when released from the contraption. Over time, he tires of the girlfriend and one day, does not release the girl from the tesseract but goes back to his old life of a university professor. The end of the story shows a very young topologist — hinted to be a younger version of himself but with no explanation — turning the tables on him (when he is 60, close to retirement) by combining a mobius strip with a tesseract, releasing the girl and trapping the old topologist inside.

Explanations related to topology and mobius strip figure in appropriate places, though the girl ends up calling a tesseract “a cube with a cube on each of the faces”, missing the extra cube.

This story by Ben Neal Ramey (using a pseudonym) was nominated for a Nebula Award.

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Works Similar to Sword Game
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Moebius Room by Robert Donald Locke
  2. Paint ‘Em Green by Burt Filer
  3. The Mobius Trail by George Smith
  4. Barr’s Problem by Julian Hawthorne
  5. Star, Bright by Mark Clifton
  6. The Crazy Mathematician by Ralph Sylvester Underwood
  7. Project Flatty by Irving Cox Jr.
  8. The Heart on the Other Side by George Gamow
  9. Into the Fourth by Adam Hull Shirk
  10. Scandal in the Fourth Dimension by Amelia Reynolds Long (as "A.R. Long")
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Categories:
GenreScience Fiction,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions, Romance, Mobius Strip/Nonorientability,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry,
MediumShort Stories,

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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)