Copyright © 1984, 2014 by Rudy Rucker 2nd edition, entitled The Fourth Dimension: Toward A Geometry of Higher Reality, Dover Publications, 2014 1st edition, entitled The Fourth Dimension: A Guided Tour of the Higher Universes, Houghton Mifflin, 1984 Reading note: Extended quotes or storylets appear throughout the paperback edition as sidebar material at the edges of the page.
1958, the Louisville Free Public Library had a single shelf of science fiction books.
My friend Niles Schoening and I used to read and discuss them, wondering about time travel, wondering about the fourth dimension. When I went off to college in 1963, my father, Embry Rucker, gave me a copy of Edwin Abbott’s Flatland. Watch the wheeling flight of swallows chasing gnats at dusk.
Rucker’s major mathematical interests are transfinite sets (he has a doctorate in mathematical logic from Rutgers) and spaces of higher dimensions.
After editing a selection of Charles Hinton’s writings about the fourth dimension, and writing a popular account of four-space and relativity, Rucker’s first big success came in 1982 with the publication of Infinity and the Mind.
The fourth dimension is a universal skeleton key, applicable to any number of conundrums.
I always start with the hallowed Flatland analogy: 4-D is to 3-D as 3-D is to 2-D.
In the seven years since then, I’ve learned a lot more about the fourth dimension. Life can seem so chaotic, so dreary, so grindingly hard. For many, the fourth dimension has served as a gateway into it. The fourth dimension is a direction different from all the directions in normal space. Turning the knobs moves a stylus under the screen, and the stylus scrapes off dust, leaving dark trails.
In writing The Fourth Dimension: Toward a Geometry of Higher Reality, I’ve tried to present a definitive and popular account of what the fourth dimension means, both physically and spiritually. Who among us has not dreamt of some higher reality, some transcendent level of meaning and peace? The left-hand knob moves the stylus in the left / right direction, and the right-hand knob moves the stylus in the up / down direction.
My Fourth Dimension has been one of my best-selling books, with translations appearing in France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, and spain.
I’m very pleased that Dover is republishing it in paperback and ebook editions.
In more recent times, several professional mathematicians have written science fiction with strong mathematical underpinnings.