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Nobody Loves a Moebius Strip (1979)
Alice Laurance

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A very warm and fuzzy 2-page story about a living alien creature shaped in the form of a Mobius Strip. It starts off with:

(quoted from Nobody Loves a Moebius Strip)

“You could be interested,, even fascinated by one, you could conceivably admire one, but nobody loves a Moebius Strip. Particularly not a living one. Even cut out of paper, there’s something infuriatingly unreasonable about one, and in the flesh— shuddered, looking at the creature on the table in front of me and repeated it: nobody loves a Moebius Strip. The thing had all of the less appealing qualities of a skinned snake which had been flattened by a steam roller and had somehow contrived to swallow part of itself in the process. It didn’t look as if it had only one surface and edge, but I’d proved it by drawing a wavering line around it. The line was unsteady because the thing had tried to wriggle away. It had also made a faintly chortling sound and I made a useless note to the effect that it was probably ticklish. I was at a loss to know how to take its measurements, but if you flattened it out, ignored the unnerving half-twist somewhere in it and measured it doubled over itself , it would have been about a foot long and three inches wide.”

This creature had been found on a derelict in deep space. It was the job of the narrator, Clarence Worthington, Chairman of the Psycho-Biological Department of Terran University “to test any newly encountered species with the object of deciding whether the creature should be placed in the Global Zoo or invited to exchange ambassadors.”. But her cognitive tests on the creature kept giving contradictory results. And for a good reason… for when Clarence made a Klein Bottle and kept it next to the creature,

(quoted from Nobody Loves a Moebius Strip)

“With a mighty heave, it hurled itself into the air and settled around the bottle, fitting itself tightly around the surface. It was giving a good imitation of hugging the bottle when it spoke a single word, a word which would be recognized by any intelligent being in the universe. “Mama”, it said plaintively.”

And then, of course, the final paragraph:

(quoted from Nobody Loves a Moebius Strip)

“The Moebius Strip has been placed in a nursery where it will remain until it grows up, presumably in the form of a Klein's Bottle. It will then be re-tested and, if it passes (as I'm sure it will), it will be offered diplomatic status. But one question continues to haunt me. Can anybody love a Klein's Bottle?”

Nobody Loves a Moebius Strip was published in the June 1979 issue of Galileo Magazine of Science Fiction.

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Works Similar to Nobody Loves a Moebius Strip
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Twisters by Paul J. Nahin
  2. Flower Arrangement by Rosel George Brown
  3. The Heart on the Other Side by George Gamow
  4. Art Thou Mathematics? by Charles Mobbs
  5. Another Cock Tale by Chris Miller
  6. All the Universe in a Mason Jar by Joe Haldeman
  7. The Adventures of Topology Man by Alex Kasman
  8. Quarantine by Arthur C. Clarke
  9. The Four-Color Problem by Barrington J. Bayley
  10. No-Sided Professor by Martin Gardner
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GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,
MotifMobius Strip/Nonorientability,
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)