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The Ifth of Oofth (1957)
Walter Trevis

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

[This] is a short, zany, tall-tale reminiscent of Heinlein's "And He Built A Crooked House". Someone ends up making a 3-dimensional, unfolded projection of a 5-dimensional hypercube, a Penteract. The object, when dropped accidentally on the floor, ends up becoming a 4-spatial-dimensional tesseract extending into Time, leading to slap-stick comedy on planetary scale. The penteract builder explains how the higher dimensional objects are made from lower dimensional ones (the author gets the number of cubes and tesseracts required to make a Penteract incorrect, using 64 cubes instead of 40 and mentioning that a Penteract has 8 tesseracts instead of 10). The "Ifth" and "Oofth" in the title refer to 2 spatial dimensions orthogonal to our 3-D (though only one of them ends up being used).

This classic science fiction story by the author of The Color of Money (yes, the straight fiction story that became a Paul Newman film) originally appeared in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine in 1957 and (at least at the moment) is available for free online here.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to The Ifth of Oofth
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. The Moebius Room by Robert Donald Locke
  3. Project Flatty by Irving Cox Jr.
  4. Star, Bright by Mark Clifton
  5. Into the Fourth by Adam Hull Shirk
  6. Problem in Geometry by T.P. Caravan
  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. The Professor's Experiments - The Dimension of Time by Paul Bold
Ratings for The Ifth of Oofth:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions,
MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

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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)