Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Casual Shorts & the ISFdb Top Short Fiction # 42: "—And He Built a Crooked House" by Robert A. Heinlein

Heinlein, Robert A. " '—And He Built a Crooked House' ." Astounding Science-Fiction, February 1941.

This article is part of my attempt to read all the 155 stories currently (as of 1 November 2022) on the ISFdb's Top Short Fiction list. Please see the introduction and list of stories hereI am encouraging readers to rate the stories and books they have read on the ISFdb.

ISFdb Rating:   8.71/10
My Rating:        7/10

"Outside, the night was cold and wet, but in the small living room the curtains were closed and the
fire burned brightly.

Ambitious experimental architect Quintus Teal conceives of a house in the form of a tesseract. His persistence convinces friend Homer Bailey to invest in having it built, since his socialite wife would be proud to own and show off such an unusual house of the future. Constructed quickly, the house on the outside is an unimpressive cube, but on the inside it is a vast structure with eight rooms. As the house is four dimensional, however, when Teal and the new owners attempt to leave they instead find themselves in a different room, as each part of the house loops into another. Moreover, the views through some of the windows are from various parts of the country and perhaps even the world and beyond into other worlds. Not just looping, the house extends itself well into the other dimension.

The trio, with Teal in the lead, attempt to find a way out of the tesseract house.

An enjoyable story and a good concept. The characters are basic Heinlein and annoying more often than not, but they suit the story that at the same time delivers a scathing version of Los Angeles. The story is both satirical, poking fun at LA and its inhabitants, at architecture and the idea of the modern aesthetic, while maintaining its focus on mathematical and geometric logic.

I am generally mixed about Heinlen, but aside from the annoying protagonist and comical tone, I did enjoy this one.

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