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The Infinitive of Go (1980)
John Brunner

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

John Brunner's novel, "The Infinitive of Go" is a story about teleporting devices based on a "posting" principle affecting living objects in the process of "posting" - the author describes it in terms of "congruent spaces". In particular, sentient beings end up affecting the destination they reach because the computers operating the posting devices, based on "transfinite mathematics", take into account the postee's thoughts and desires at the moment of transfer, shuttling him/her to a universe closest to his/her desires (in addition to matching the physical elements of the two universes).

The author ends up postulating that physical reality "is of order aleph four, perhaps aleph five". The one reason he may have needed this transfinite element in the story is due to an assumption about a continuously branching Reality as in Everett's many-worlds theory (I don't know if that autuomatically gets you up to aleph 1 or 2 - perhaps someone has done a calculation on this. He appears to have assumed the truth of the continuum hypothesis as well). A couple of additional alephs have been thrown in as "levels that our consciousness does not even perceive. At one point, he mentions that the infinity of such universes is larger than the infinity of curves. The final line of the novel hints at some transcendent gods observing these myriad universes...

It is an extremely weakly written pulp novel, where the author draws out the final point about the reason why the world or origin of the postee has so much in common with the destination world where he ends up (including the central case where an ape which speaks Queen's English). If you read the Wikipedia summary, you won't even need to get the novel.

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Works Similar to The Infinitive of Go
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein
  2. The Infinite Assassin by Greg Egan
  3. Singleton by Greg Egan
  4. The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
  5. Solenoid by Mircea Cartarescu
  6. El Troiacord by Miquel de Palol
  7. The Riddle of the Universe & Its Solution by Christopher Cherniak
  8. From the Earth to the Moon [De la Terre à la Lune, trajet direct en 97 heures 20 minutes] by Jules Verne
  9. My Random Friend by Larry Eisenberg
  10. Eversion by Alastair Reynolds
Ratings for The Infinitive of Go:
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:
2/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions,

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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)