This book has a female college professor that builds a tesseract in her office. Her daughter is brainwashed by her boyfriend and accuses her father, the college professor's husband, of molesting her. The professor uses the tesseract to discover her husband is innocent. I read it around 1998 or so but I think it was a few years old at the time.

  • 2
    Does he discover the husband is innocent by traveling backwards in time, or in some other way?
    – Hypnosifl
    Nov 23, 2016 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


This is Factoring Humanity by Robert J. Sawyer, published in 1998.

Goodreads description:

In the near future, a signal is detected coming from the Alpha Centauri system. Mysterious, unintelligible data streams in for ten years. Heather Davis, a professor in the University of Toronto psychology department, has devoted her career to deciphering the message. Her estranged husband, Kyle, is working on the development of artificial intelligence systems and new computer technology utilizing quantum effects to produce a near-infinite number of calculations simultaneously.

When Heather achieves a breakthrough, the message reveals a startling new technology that rips the barriers of space and time, holding the promise of a new stage of human evolution. In concert with Kyle's discoveries of the nature of consciousness, the key to limitless exploration---or the end of the human race---appears close at hand.

While the description doesn't really hit on the major points of your memory (aside from a female protagonist who's a college professor, and an estranged husband, though it doesn't mention the reason he's estranged is the sexual abuse allegations), the cover does include an attempted but inaccurate rendering of an "unfolded" (rendered in 3 dimensions) tesseract:

enter image description here

(Inside, the text of the book book more accurately describes an unfolded tesseract like pictured below:

enter image description here

...also called a Dali Cross. Or maybe the cover image is supposed to be some kind of hyperrectangle.)

Reviews fill in some more of the details.

From this one:

The book starts out more like a soap opera than a SF novel. In the opening scene, the Davis' grown daughter shows up at their home and accuses Kyle of molesting her as a child.

From this, we get hints of the tesseract:

Heather has a break through with the indecipherable messages when she stumbles upon the solution; the messages are the plans to create a devices that allows someone to enter the 4th dimension and get in touch with humanity’s overmind.

From my own personal memory of the book, it is the overmind that reveals that the accusations are false (inside the 4th dimension, memories of other people can be explored and real memories have a different character than false memories). I also believe the molestation accusations came from a therapist, not the boyfriend, although a boyfriend may well have been partially responsible as well (the idea of "false memory syndrome", real-seeming memories accidentally implanted by overeager psychologists using leading questions, etc, being one of the ideas the author wanted to explore).

  • @Mithrandir When I first posted I sort of rushed with just the title/author, intending to edit it with more supplementary info as soon as I could find it (I mean, I remembered the book enough that I could basically just say "Yes, this is pretty much exactly what happens in the book" but I prefer to find secondary sources if I could). I assume either someone felt the limited first-pass was worthy of a downvote, or the didn't like the very concept of a quick answer followed by an edit, which is sort of like saying "dibs!" on answering. ;) Either way, fair enough I guess. :) Nov 23, 2016 at 17:33
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    +1 especially because, either for "dibs" intent or source availability issue, I think a quick first pass is acceptable and reasonable. And it helps that the second pass is so thorough :)
    – gowenfawr
    Nov 23, 2016 at 18:39
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    "near-infinite number" ...Somebody doesn't understand the meaning of "infinite."
    – jpmc26
    Nov 23, 2016 at 23:24
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    The pictured shape is not actually a tesseract, unfolded or otherwise - a tesseract only has eight cubic "cells", not the seventeen in the picture.
    – Random832
    Nov 24, 2016 at 5:06
  • @Random832 Yeah, I thought it looked different from how I remembered the concept in my head ( (I recall attempting to draw it in my notes during many a boring class after reading that book, and it was indeed much simpler), but I just assumed my head was faulty. I believe the in-book description of the unfolded tesseract gets it more or less correct, though. Let's just say it's probably SUPPOSED to be that. Nov 24, 2016 at 13:26

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