Numbers Don’t Lie
by Terry Bisson
Available Format(s): Trade paperback
Everybody should have a friend like Wilson Wu.
Rock musician, Volvo mechanic, trial lawyer, camel driver, aeronautics engineer, and entomological meteorologist, Wilson Wu is the man to call if you stumble on, say, a rift in the space-time continuum. He’ll do the math. You handle the financial transactions, especially with the guy who runs the junkyard.
Gently witty, seductive, and intoxicating as Kentucky whiskey in Park Slope, Numbers Don’t Lie takes us from deepest Brooklyn to the Deep South and back again, on a journey of friendship, romance, and wacky physics that just might be true. Bisson’s prose, compact as an iPod and smooth as an I-80 on-ramp, is, he explains, “scrupulously illustrated with Wilson Wu’s formulas, all of which have been reviewed for elegance by famed mathematician Rudy Rucker.” Can we trust Terry Bisson? Of course! Check out the math: Numbers Don’t Lie.
These inventive stories were originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction as “The Hole in the Hole,” “The Edge of the Universe,” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.”
“This slim volume is essential reading for the author’s fans and for fans of speculative fiction laced with considerable humor.”
“A leisurely Golden Age tall tale enriched by the wonderful gibberish of mathematical physics. All fun and pure pleasure.”
“Stanley G. Weinbaum’s Prof. Haskel Van Manderpootz and J. U. Geisy’s Dr. Xenophon Xerxes Zapt, add the name of Wilson Wu, the hero of Bisson’s hilarious collection of three related stories filled with puns and inscrutable mathematical formulas. No piker, Wu manages to walk, in ‘one long step for mankind,’ from an auto repair garage in a nondescript part of Brooklyn directly to the moon in ‘The Hole in the Hole.’ He even brings back half of a dune buggy left behind by astronauts and casually explains the situation as ‘a periodic incongruent neotopological metaeuclidean adjacency.’ In the second tale, ‘The Edge of the Universe,’ Wu saves the expanding universe from shrinking. Finally, he patches ‘a hole in the fabric of space-time’ in ‘Get Me to the Church on Time.’ Fans of the late Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will relish this irreverent but never smart-alecky spoof. Bisson has won Hugo, Nebula, and other major SF awards.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Resplendently outrageous! Transcendently silly! Immensely fun!”
Terry Bisson is the author of Talking Man, Fire on the Mountain, The Pickup Artist, and Any Day Now. He has won the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire awards. He is best known for his short fiction, which has been collected in Bears Discover Fire, In the Upper Room, Greetings, and TVA Baby. Terry is the editor of the Outspoken Authors Series published by PM Press. In conjunction with Tachyon Publications, Bisson hosts the monthly SF in SF reading series in San Francisco.
Praise for Greetings and Other Stories
“In Bisson’s third story collection, the veteran satirist’s prodigious wit and inventiveness demonstrate why some of his peers regard him as a national treasure. In the opening story, ‘I Saw the Light,’ Bisson wryly extrapolates Arthur C. Clarke’s classic concept of an alien artifact found on the moon (the 2001 gambit) to reveal that humans have been serving as a kind of pet for the aliens. Other tales explore an innovation in prisoners’ rights by which death-row inmates can now choose crucifixion on live TV; a paleontologist’s surprising visit to the stone age; and a group of aging hippies forced to revisit their troubled past when they begin sharing the same dreams. The longest and perhaps best story, ‘Dear Abbey,’ follows the exploits of a pair of radical environmentalists trying to avert global warming by traveling into the future by means of a porch glider. Bisson’s distinctive minimalist style leaves plenty of room for disarming social satire that keeps one amused and pleasantly provoked.”
“Bisson fans are bound to savor this strong story collection from the Hugo and Nebula award winner, but it should be particularly revelatory to new readers in search of crisp black comedy and satire. The lighthearted ‘I Saw the Light’ turns the classic alien contact story (with props from Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001) upside down, while the terse ‘Openclose’ offers a glimpse into one future sponsored by the Office of Homeland Security. Capital punishment and religious education feed a surreal media circus in ‘The Old Rugged Cross.’ In the title story, legally ordered assisted suicide is supposed to help maintain world population, but no one—from suicides to the accidentally maimed and the hacked-up victims of genocide—can find peace while stuck waiting at ‘Death’s Door.’ The haunting ‘Scout’s Honor’ and the gently elegiac ‘Almost Home’ balance the bleak chills. The volume closes with the striking ‘Dear Abbey’ about a desperate attempt to save the Earth from ecological disaster by traveling to the end of time.”
“One of SF’s leading innovators.”
“Every word he writes is worth reading, even though a lot of them are the same ones.”
“Bisson’s prose is a wonder of seemingly effortless control and precision; he is one of science fiction’s most promising short-story practitioners, proving that in the genre, the short story remains a powerful, viable, and evocative form.”
“Generously endowed with sharp wit, dead-on dialogue, and the storytelling gifts of a born raconteur.”
—Science Fiction Weekly
Visit the Terry Bisson website.