—And He Built a Crooked House
by Robert A. Heinlein
• Word count: 7589
• Page count: 20
—And He Built a Crooked House is a science fiction short story from one of the big names among classic science fiction authors: Robert Heinlein. First published in 1941, this story explores the idea of using mathematics and the fourth dimension to build a new type of house.
—And He Built a Crooked House follows the exploits of a mathematically inclined architect who builds a house in the shape of an unfolded tesseract. The house is ultra-modern and on the cutting edge of technology, and things go smoothly until he and his clients enter the house and find it very different than they expected.
I don’t think of a house as an upholstered cave; I think of it as a machine for living, a vital process, a live dynamic thing, changing with the mood of the dweller—not a dead, static, oversized coffin. Why should we be held down by the frozen concepts of our ancestors? Any fool with a little smattering of descriptive geometry can design a house in the ordinary way. Is the static geometry of Euclid the only mathematics? Are we to completely disregard the Picard-Vessiot theory? How about modular system?—to say nothing of the rich suggestions of stereochemistry. Isn’t there a place in architecture for transformation, for homomorphology, for actional structures?
—And He Built a Crooked House was first published in 1941 in Astounding Science Fiction, and has been reprinted in the 1959 collection The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag.