a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

Dimensional Analysis and Mr Fortescue (1965)
Eric St. Clair

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A fairly silly story typical of pulp magazines. Mr. Fortescue wanted to to build a funhouse (“House of Fun, Magic, and Mystery”) in his town. Why? Read with an eye-roll:

(quoted from Dimensional Analysis and Mr Fortescue)

“This town needed a good fun house where young fellows could steer their girls through dark and scary passages with lots of green skeletons lurking, ready to lunge—at which the girls would holler, and throw their arms around the fellows necks. Many an ice-pack that had dammed the river of romance would be thereby broken up.”

In particular, he hoped to take his love-interest, Maureen Wellesley, through the dark passages in hopes of winning her affection. Well, something went wrong in the construction of the funhouse. People started falling into another dimension at a specific place in the funhouse. Completely befuddled, Mr. Fortescue went to demand answers from the architect, Floyd Wright – as a play of Frank Lloyd Wright. When he recounted the full story, Wright could not explain what might have been happening, but his lackey, Ivan Splasz, did. Ivan was a “quantum mechanician”, a bit of an idiot savant. A self-proclaimed expert of “Dimensional Analysis”, he was convinced that traditional constructions were flawed and Wright had accidentally made an error which created a dimensional rift in the funhouse. As Wright said,

(quoted from Dimensional Analysis and Mr Fortescue)

“It is Topology” Floyd said. “I must accidentally have made a Moebius Strip. People go round and round, and come out there. Or it is a Klein Bottle —”

To demonstrate this, Ivan wrote down a complicated geometrical equation which turned out to have two solutions. When he implemented the first solution using some origami-style paper construction, the paper vanished into an unseen dimension with unknown dangers visible. So he implemented the second solution, which caused the paper construction to stick out into a different dimension, one which fulfilled all wishes.

So now, Ivan had provided a paper/plywood construction for an implement which could reach into the “Nonth” dimension, as Ivan called it, and fish out the people and objects which had fallen in there. And one can guess it – inanimate objects like currency notes came out mirror reversed while humans came out having experienced their deepest desires in the nonth dimension (no mention if their physiologies were mirrored…)

The story very naturally reminded me of Heinlein’s “And He Built a Crooked House…” and Martin Gardner’s “The No-Sided Professor”…

Published in the January 1965 issue of the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

(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 Dimensional Analysis and Mr Fortescue
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Holmes-Ginsbook Device by Isaac Asimov
  2. Another Cock Tale by Chris Miller
  3. The Heart on the Other Side by George Gamow
  4. Narrow Valley by R.A. Lafferty
  5. The Mathenauts by Norman Kagan
  6. Scandal in the Fourth Dimension by Amelia Reynolds Long (as "A.R. Long")
  7. Message Found in a Copy of Flatland by Rudy Rucker
  8. And He Built a Crooked House by Robert A. Heinlein
  9. The Pacifist by Arthur C. Clarke
  10. Ms Fnd in a Lbry by Hal Draper
Ratings for Dimensional Analysis and Mr Fortescue:
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.


GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,
MotifHigher/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)