Gold Dust & Star Dust

Cyrill Wates | published Sep, 1929

added Jun 5, 2024
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First Date of Publication
Sep, 1929
Original Source
Amazing Stories
Original Source Type
Magazine - Pulp
Medium
Short Story
Original Language
English
Kasman Review
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Summary: A higher-dimensional yarn executed with greater amount of explanation than normally found in pulp stories.

Story Tag Line: “Picture those oak cases of gold coins piled one on top of another. Enormously heavy. Acted upon by we can’t say what forces, gravitational or electrical in the Fourth Dimension. All they needed was that tiny tilt out of line to cause them to fall a short distance in that Fourth Dimension. The distance they fell would not need to be very great for the chests and their contents to pass entirely beyond our ken.”

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Reviews

  • Vijay Fafat
    Published on

    Gold disappears overnight! From a locked warehouse! Obviously, our detective, Mr. Corwin, immediately figures out that the stuff has fallen through a crack in the fourth dimension. It has not been stolen, it remains in place, waiting to be brought back. Which is accomplished by reversing the process which created the crack in the first place, with the added bonus of the discovery of a new element…

    There is a detailed explanation of 1-D constructions becoming 2-D and extrapolations to higher dimensions. The idea of 8 cubes arranged in a particular fashion and “given a tilt” in the fourth dimension to collapse into a tesseract is very reminiscent of the house which folded itself through the fourth dimension due to a seismic tremor in “And He Built A Crooked House” by Robert Heinlein. There is some handwaving about how the higher dimensions are more amenable to discovery by touch rather than sight but that part of the “explanation” is incorrect and perfunctory. However, the author does make an admirable attempt to explain the higher dimensions through some neat geometrical drawings. Indeed, his expatiation on how a few heavy boxes of gold could have fallen into the fourth spatial dimension due to a rubber-band-like action of an “ether beam” getting turned off suddenly at a new power station nearby is quite well-imagined and illustrative.

    At one point, Corvin says, “I have long held the theory that magnetic lines of force are actually the result of a strain in the ether acting in the Fourth Dimension.”. He would have done well to reference the Kaluza-Klein Theory in which a 5 dimensional version of General Relativity captures Maxwell’s EM equations.

    The end of the story devolves into some needless nonsense about a new element, “Corwinium” which Corwin had found through a spectroscopic analysis of the “double-star in Andromeda, forty thousand light-years away”. The distance is off by a factor of 50+ , perhaps attributable to uncertainties in cosmic distance measurements which prevailed around the time the story was written. But it has a good nugget about the curvature in a higher dimension reducing the shortest distance between 2 points in 3 dimensions, when Corwin explains:

    “That planet may be, in fact is, forty thousand light-years away in three dimensions. But due to the curvature of space, it is touching our own earth in the Fourth Dimension.”

    Worth reading for the geometric explanation.