Many years ago, mid to late 1960s I came across a science fiction book in the local library. It is one of the first science fiction books I ever read, possibly even the very first. I have no idea who wrote it, what the name was or anything else, but I do remember parts of the story line. If anyone there knows this book and can furnish me with some info on it, I would like to try finding a copy.

The story starts with some sort of accident in a laboratory doing research on extreme cold. They experience a power surge in the cooling machinery and generate some sort of odd field that nobody can explain, the theory is that they somehow managed to create some sort of 'negative molecular motion'. For some reason they call in a juvenile delinquent girl, I think the name was Gail, and she is supposed to investigate this phenomenon. She manages to learn the trick, but decides that she doesn't want to tell her supervisors about it, so she fakes a trance. They doctors quickly catch on that she is faking and determine to give her some drugs to make her talk, but she uses the secret of the field to escape. The story jumps forward in time a bit, to where the girl, now grown and married, finds her own child involved with creatures from Jupiter who are experiencing some sort of crisis and need help. The field secret, passed on to the child is somehow used to communicate with these creatures.

That's about all I remember, but I would love to find the book again. If nobody there recognizes this description, can you think of any other places I might try?

  • This is good amount of detail, but take a look at our guidance page for story identification qustions, and see if you can edit in anything else that comes to your mind. Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 17:15
  • The idea of a strange field at an extremely low temperature sounds like "zero point energy" if that helps.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 17:36
  • 1
    Thank you, I looked at the guidance page, but nothing else comes to mind. I -think- this was before the concept of zero-point-energy was commonly batted around in sci-fi, although I'm not sure - I may have been too young for such material back then.
    – Pete Danes
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 17:48

1 Answer 1


That definitely sounds like The Universe Between, written by Alan E. Nourse. It was published in 1951, but it was definitely still in libraries in the 70s (since that's when I first read it).

The parts you remember aren't mentioned in most of the reviews I've found ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GTUYOSY/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 ), but they are all there in the first "part" of the book.

An experiment with cold temperatures, approaching absolute zero, ends up creating a blue, glowing area that looks sort of like a hypercube. When they drop a tennis ball into it, the ball comes out inside out. Everyone they send in to look at the area ends up dying, so they get a young, "highly adaptable" girl (Gail, who is sort of a juvenile delinquent) to go into the room and look into the cube. In fact, she goes into the cube and realizes it was a different dimension, and that entering this universe is like turning a strange corner, a corner she can turn any time she wants now that she knows it's there. However, even her mind can't interpret anything from her senses there, so she shuts down. She realizes that the only person who could interpret what's on the other side of the cube is a newborn. She doesn't tell the scientists anything, but when they try to make her talk, she "turns the corner" to escape.

Part 2 of the book is mainly about her son, who she raises to be able to live in both universes. This becomes important when ANOTHER experiment in our universe (when her son is almost adult) ends up causing problems for the other universe, and they (the "Thresholders" from the other universe) are trying desperately to communicate the problem. They take chunks of Manhattan, and shove odd items at Bob (Gail's son) before letting him cross back to our universe.

There aren't any "creatures from Jupiter", but in Part 3, they run into problems when they are trying to use the "take a shortcut through the other universe" method of travel to get to the other planets in our solar system.

  • The novel was based on a short story "High Threshold", March 1951 and a novelette "The Universe Between", September 1951 originally published in Astounding Science Fiction; the links are to the Internet Archive where you can read them for free. "High Threshold" was reprinted in Groff Conklin's anthology Omnibus of Science Fiction.
    – user14111
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 23:06
  • Many thanks, Dinae, that sounds right - I may have misremembered the part about Jupiter (it wouldn't be the first such incident), but I'm quite certain of the first part, about the extreme cold and a juvenile delinquent girl brought in as a 'consultant/guinea pig'. Even the author's name sounds vaguely familiar, although I would never have remembered it on my own. Appreciate the tip, and thanks for the links to the online version. (I'm living in Europe, and old English-language sci-fi novels are a bit thin on the ground.)
    – Pete Danes
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 11:54

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