I'm looking for a novel I read back in 2003-05. It might have been classified as a "young adult" novel although some parts I remember as being kind of graphic.

The novel begins with an alien child that assumes the form of a normal human, and who lives with his mother and some other immediate family. His mother explains to him how using his alien powers is very dangerous. He escapes his house and then travels to some kind of circus or fair with his grandfather (?) who is arrested and thrown into jail or some kind of pit. The child, or possibly his grandfather (or both) then uses toilet paper to make patterns on the walls of his cell/room which in turn causes them to travel time/space into an alternate Earth.

Once on the alternate Earth, things start to get really weird. The child finds out that his mother has been turned to stone, his sister is pregnant and smokes, and no one is around to tell him what to do. So, of course, he begins murdering everyone, using his unlimited alien powers. He then creates some kind of friend or lover (?) and they have lots of intercourse. After this, I don't really remember what happens. I know there wasn't much left in the novel after that point.

I tagged this as hard-sci-fi because I do remember the story going into great detail on how exactly they are able to construct a time machine out of toilet paper.

  • 8
    You get a +1 for detail, but I can't help but think on reading through that this is a novel best left forgotten.
    – Radhil
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 16:35
  • 2
    I'm not sure that's what "hard science fiction" means.
    – user14111
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 17:44
  • @user14111 it goes into very great detail on the math behind the author's implementation of time travel, so I would consider that to be a hard sci-fi aspect of it
    – Paul Omans
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


I finally found the answer to my own question. The novel in question is titled Panda Ray.

Christopher Zimmerman sure looks like a normal ten-year-old (even if he is the shortest member of his class). He collects pebbles and has a dog named Buzz. He also tells his whole fifth-grade class at Lincoln Elementary about traveling into the past to see dinosaurs and trilobites. For Christopher - in spite of his ordinary looks - is actually the youngest child in a family of aliens... or are they mutants? (And really, does it matter which?). When Mother hears of Christopher's boasting, she rules as she must: Christopher will be scooped out. That's right - no more omicron for him, no more upsilon. Christopher would rather die than be scooped out, so he enlists Gramps's help and flees on a journey through space, time, and other less recognizable things, and into a classic science fiction adventure

Book Cover from Amazon

This site mentions the time travel through toilet paper:

This science fiction novel is about a dysfunctional family of superbeings (aliens? mutants? humans from the future?) in modern America. It reminds me a bit of the writings of Stanislaw Lem, which is not very surprising since the author is probably best known for his English translations of Lem's work. Of interest to this website is the role played by Penrose Tilings and the Golden Ratio in the grandfather's ability to travel in time and space as well as to other universes. The non-periodic tiling built of kites and darts is described in great detail. In fact, we learn how to construct the golden ratio using a compass and straightedge and how the grandfather is able to replicate the tiling using nothing other than toilet paper and liquid soap! Unfortunately, the name "Penrose" is never mentioned, so someone reading this book who does not already know about this mathematical construction will have difficulty finding out more from other sources.

The reviews seem to be incredibly mixed, with equal numbers of people proclaiming it's either the best or worst SciFi novel they have ever read.

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