a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

Shell (1987)
Stephen Baxter
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

Humanity, trapped and quarantined by the Xeelee in hyperspace (see "Stephen Baxter - The Eighth Room"), live on a spherical world apparently surrounded by a huge shell. The Shell harbors life and a group of explorers use a balloon to visit it. When they land, they find themselves on a spherical surrounded by a shell...they remain quite non-plussed, for they expected to be on a shell with a spherical world in the sky. What gives?

As Eve, the character which has seen the entire timeline of the universe and one which is recounting "Vacuum Diagrams", explains to Jack Raoul, a disembodied/re-engineered human:

(quoted from Shell)

"This world of theirs, with the Shell, is a four-dimensional sphere. No wonder they couldn't figure it out."

Jack Raoul begins to understand:

(quoted from Shell)

"I thought of three-dimensional analogies. Allel's people were like two-dimensional creatures, constrained to crawl over the surface of a three-dimensional globe. Home and Shell, the twin worlds, were like lines of latitude, above and below, each unbroken, each apparently cupping the other. Just as the diagrams in the City had tried to show them. ..[...] They were trapped. In a prison of folded space-time."

The identity of Eve is revealed at the end of "Vacuum Diagrams" in a beautifully consistent manner.

First published as "The Bark Spaceship" in "Dream" #14 1987. Reprinted in Vacuum Diagrams.

More information about this work can be found at
(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to Shell
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Eighth Room by Stephen Baxter
  2. The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
  3. Dante Dreams by Stephen Baxter
  4. Project Flatty by Irving Cox Jr.
  5. Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds
  6. Factoring Humanity by Robert J. Sawyer
  7. Gödel's Sunflowers by Stephen Baxter
  8. Planck Zero by Stephen Baxter
  9. Into the Fourth by Adam Hull Shirk
  10. Gold Dust and Star Dust by Cyrill Wates
Ratings for Shell:
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:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
/5 ( votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifAliens, Higher/Lower Dimensions,
MediumShort Stories,

Home All New Browse Search About

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)