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“A Subway Named Mobius” by A. J. Deutsch.

April 2, 2011

The Book: “A Subway Named Mobius” by A. J. Deutsch. Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction December 1950. Read in the anthology Where Do We Go from Here? edited by Isaac Asimov published by Fawcett Crest in 1972.

The Setting: Boston, Earth.

The Story: An addition to the Boston subway system has unexpected mathematical consequences.

The Science: A Mobius strip subway makes trains disappear. That’s ridiculous. The Mobius does have unusual topological properties, but it’s not in communication with some sort of mystical fourth-dimensionality. I call bullshit.

The Reaction: It reminds me of “-And He Built a Crooked House-“, but somehow less good. It’s not the greatest story, but it’s not so long that I resent having read it.

The Cover: A generalized science fiction anthology cover with what may be planets or molecules or whatever.  But mostly, ASIMOV.

Next Up: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.

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One comment

  1. I read the story when it first appeared in Astounding Science Fiction. It was my introduction to topology. You are being too literal-minded. The fourth dimension is just a plot device.

    Instead of the Boston subway system, substitute a large application with a long history such as Microsoft Word. I think the moebius effect helps understand a lot of its weird behavior, especially considering the complexity of the Microsoft empire. You don’t need a fourth dimension. Things disappear; often while remaining in plain sight, like the Jester bug in Ellen Ullman’s novel The Bug.



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