Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Geometrical shapes are cool

Here is a post at tor.com that struck me as funny: A Guide to Cubes

Cubes! Because of course there are so many in SFF!

But of course there are indeed quite a few in science fiction and a some in fantasy. I would never have thought of writing a post on the subject, but it’s interesting to see what Emily Asher-Perrin and Leah Schnelbach came up with on the topic:

The Borg. Well, of course. I hadn’t thought of them, but sure, that is one scary cube, and it was a clever idea for a ship, too. So utterly nonhuman, or at least utterly outside the normal space opera vision of ship design.

Then there are a bunch I haven’t encountered or don’t remember, mostly but not entirely from movies and TV shows, and then — the Key to Time, from Doctor Who. That was a great story arc! You know, someday I should get at least the Tom Baker episodes on DVD.

Okay, what are some cubes that have turned up in books? I can think of one example: the little black and white cubes used to cast spells in Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni novels.

Also, if you think of tesseracts as hypercubes, then of course A Wrinkle in Time qualifies. So does Heinlein’s “And He Built a Crooked House,” a story I’d forgotten about until now, when I was trying to think of other examples. Looks like it’s available online in pdf form now if you’d like to read it.

What else in the beautiful world of geometry?

Well, there’s Flatland, of course! But another I just thought of in this context is the wonderful historical by Gillian Bradshaw, The Sand-Reckoner, where Archimedes is the main character. There’s a book that features the poetic, emotional dimension of geometry from the viewpoint of a mathematical genius. It’s a wonderful book. Who knows, it might even contain a cube somewhere.

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4 Comments Geometrical shapes are cool

  1. Elaine T

    McKillip’s book of time maps in The Cygnet and the Firebird was a cube containing myriad other cubes.

  2. Rachel

    So it was! I had completely forgotten the peculiar map artifact in The Cygnet and the Firebird, even though it’s one of my favorites of McKillip’s works.

  3. SarahZ

    There’s David Alexander Smith’s book In the Cube (& short story collection Future Boston) where late 21st century Boston is a giant cube. I liked the alien cultures in that one. There’s a giant bug named The Bishop who is assessing whether humans are sentient or fair game as food, and a race of beaver-like aliens whose different approach to art appreciation results in a diplomatic incident.

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