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The Eighth Room (1989)
Stephen Baxter
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Contributed by Vijay Fafat

The story forms part of the Xeelee-sequence of stories and novels. In far distant future, the Xeelee decide to lock away the human race in a world hidden in hyperspace (as the pale, atavistic remnants of humans discover and remark, "We were a weak and foolish race. We attacked the Xeelee, unable to bear their superiority. We were defeated. But we would have kept on attacking them until we were destroyed. And so the Xeelee locked us away like destructive children...for our own good. We didn't build this world to save us from Xeelee. The Xeelee built it to save us from ourselves"). The passage to this is a hypercube consisting of eight rooms. One room hanging out in space somewhere near our solar system, another hovering in mid-air on the constructed world in hyperspace and the other 6 rooms serving as attachments. There is a long description of the walk through the hypercube similar to that in Heinlein's "And He Built a Crooked House". Thence the title.

It is not clear why you need a hypercube to connect the two worlds; one would expect a simple three-dimensional tube to work just fine. Baxter does not spend any time to explain the geometrics of a hypercube, which is good in a way since it is standard material but he writes so lyrically, I would have loved to see his explanation.

First published in "Dream" #20 1989 and reprinted in Vacuum Diagrams.

Contributed by Mat

What this story got me thinking about was not the connection but the form of the worlds inside. A sphere like our own but where the sky should be, another world that seemed to wrap around the the other.When the observer moved to the roof world he was once again on a sphere with his former world now wrapped over head. It provided me with the idea for why the universe is not just expanding but accelerating (so im told). It only made sense if our mass was being drawn down a gravity well and an omnidirectional one at that. Could it be a super massive singularity? Gravity curves space/time after all. If we observed from the singularity could we see our universe wrapped around it and being drawn in? Of course this, as i was told, is completely wrong. But that's where most good ideas begins. Just a thought to share. Use it as you will.

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Works Similar to The Eighth Room
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. And He Built a Crooked House by Robert A. Heinlein
  2. Shell by Stephen Baxter
  3. Star, Bright by Mark Clifton
  4. The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
  5. Dante Dreams by Stephen Baxter
  6. Beyond Infinity by Gregory Benford
  7. Love and a Triangle by Stanley Waterloo
  8. Project Flatty by Irving Cox Jr.
  9. Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds
  10. Axiom of Dreams by Arula Ratnakar
Ratings for The Eighth Room:
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:
1.67/5 (3 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (2 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifAliens, Higher/Lower Dimensions,
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)