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The Fourth Dynasty (1936)
R.R. Winterbotham

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A confused story of a couple (Victor and Georgiana) who go into cryogenic suspended animation for a million and a half years and wake up in the era of the Fourth Dynasty, the age of the Kora (first dynaty was Fish, second the reptiles, third humans and fourth, the Korans, an offshoot of the human race). The narrative is set about 2.7 mio years in the future and talks about a manuscript found in 1.5 mio AD, describing the effect the appearance of the re-animated couple had on the history of the planet. The Korans had a society where empirical facts were completely decoupled from accepted theory, in effect "legislating truth"; they found the human conception that facts and theory should be aligned a strange idea. One of the results was the Koran mathematical system, which used axioms not directly relevant to everyday affairs (there is a long discussion about how 2+2=3 and 2+3 = 3.5 in the Koran system. To wit, "the first number 1 doubled equals 2 so it is only logical that the second number doubled equals the third number" and so on). Victor is unable to show that 2+3=5 in regular arithmetic (must have forgotten counting on fingers during his van Winkle sleep). However, the couple does end up generating a cult following, which leads to a complete overhaul of the Koran society over the next million years, including a revision of their mathematical system - this constitutes the Fifth Dynasty of planet Earth.

The story has a strong feel of having been scribbled in a hurry and if I were to be a bit harsh, was not well-thought out.

First published in Astounding Dec 1936.

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Works Similar to The Fourth Dynasty
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Nice Girl with Five Husbands by Fritz Leiber
  2. John Jones's Dollar by Harry Stephen Keeler
  3. The Devious Weapon by M. C. Pease
  4. The Second Moon by Russell R. Winterbotham
  5. Into the Fourth by Adam Hull Shirk
  6. The Galactic Circle by Jack Williamson
  7. Gold Dust and Star Dust by Cyrill Wates
  8. A Modern Comedy of Science by Issac Nathanson
  9. The Mobius Trail by George Smith
  10. Futility by Sterner St. Paul Meek (S.P. Meek)
Ratings for The Fourth Dynasty:
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Mathematical Content:
2/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
1/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Logic/Set Theory,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)