—And He Built a Crooked House—

Publication date:1941.02
Genre:Science fiction short story
Preceded by:Sixth Column
Followed by:Logic of Empire
Wikipedia page

“—And He Built a Crooked House—” is a science fiction short story by Robert A. Heinlein first published in “Astounding Science‐Fiction” February 1941. The title is a paraphrase of the nursery rhyme “There Was a Crooked Man.”


Quintus Teal, “Graduate Architect,” while drinking with his friend Homer Bailey, bemoans the conservatism of American architecture. He wants architects to be inspired by topology and the Picard–Vessiot theory. The conversation turns to four‐dimensional objects and he shows Bailey three‐dimensional models made of toothpicks and clay, representing projections of a four‐dimensional tesseract, the equivalent of a cube. Bailey is baffled, but when Teal constructs an “unfolded tesseract,” a three‐dimensional object, Bailey suggests building a house to that pattern. Teal, ever hungry for a commission, plies Bailey with more liquor until the contract is signed “halfway down the second bottle.”