The story “The Tower of Babylon”, by Ted Chiang, is the first example of topological fiction I’ve come across that wasn’t obnoxiously about topology from the start. I’ve read fiction before, like Flatterland by Ian Stewart, that was styled after Edwin Abbot’s classic 1884 story, Flatland. Flatterland explores non-Euclidean geometry, fractal geometry, and topology, all using the classic Flatland tropes. I’m familiar with the genre. But Chiang’s “The Tower of Babylon” had the gravitas of a biblical story, with the subtlety of a proper piece of literature, and climaxed in the realization of a deep topological truth: that a world can be finite, but have no boundary.
Everyone needs an obscure useless skill. ‐ @Noahpinion
Mine is identifying the topology of time travel stories.
Click here if you know what topology is and just want to get to the time travel stuff
a brief introduction to topology The original study of shapes was geometry, popularized by a Greek mathematician named Euclid. Starting about 2000 years after that, a Swiss mathematician named Euler (pronounced “Oiler”) accidentally inventented topology while trying to solve the Seven Bridges of Königsberg problem.