I'm searching for the title and author of a collection of three short stories I read some years ago. I don't remember the title, nor the author. I'd say this is rather recent sf, but I really cannot be more precise, I'm afraid.

All three depict two main characters, one Chinese physicist and a friend of his who, IIRC, is always in trouble (with his wife?). The latter is possibly called Leonard or something.

One story is about a passage discovered by chance between a breaker's yard and the moon. It seems to me there is an old lunar module implied.

In another one, the hero discovers by looking around him (I believe there is a scene in which he hits something with a hammer...) that the universe has started to contract.

In the third, the hero notices there is a great loss of electricity in the city (L.A., maybe, but I'm really not sure). Finally, he discovers this is because of a guy who uses a lot of energy to create a personal parallel universe.

These are all the details I can remember... I hope they'll be sufficient to awake some memories.

  • Welcome to SFF! Can you take a look at this guide and see if there is anything else you can edit in? For example, when did you read this? Could you also expand on the plots of the different stories and try and go into a bit more detail? Every little bit of information helps to identify your story.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 14:36
  • Thank you, TheLethalCarrot ! I did it as best as I could.
    – Z-6PO
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


These are likely the Wilson Wu stories by Terry Bisson.

Here's an excerpt from "The Hole in the Hole", which is the story you remember about the passageway between a junkyard and the moon.

Everybody should have a friend like Wilson Wu, just to keep them guessing. Wu worked his way through high school as a pastry chef, then dropped out to form a rock band, then won a scholarship to Princeton (I think) for math (I think), then dropped out to get a job as an engineer, then made it halfway through medical school at night before becoming a lawyer, which is where I met him. He passed his bar exam on the first try. Somewhere along the line he decided he was gay, then decided he wasn’t (I don’t know what his wife thought of all this); he has been both democrat and republican, Catholic and Protestant, pro and anti gun-control. He can’t decide if he’s Chinese or American, or both.

As best I can tell, the narrator is named "Irving". "The Edge of the Universe", found in Numbers Don't Lie, is where the universe is beginning to contract.

Just then his friend Wilson, now working at the observatory on Muana Kea in Hawaii, calls him with news that they have discovered the edge of the universe. The universe, having expanded as far as it can, is beginning to contract. This will take millions of years; except, it seems, in some places isolated bubbles of time have begun to run backwards already.

Given two of the three stories are present, I'm suspecting your third might be "Get Me to the Church on Time", but the summary I found in the review is a bit disjointed:

I was not prepared for a Nobel-prize-winning scientist creating a bubble universe powered by a 1960s vintage black-and-white TV, a garden hose and a cell phone, while hiding in the Brooklyn tree house Irv and his neighbor built while they were kids. I wasn’t expecting weather-controlling moths and an ice sculpture of Traveler, Robert E Lee’s horse. I was not expecting a love letter to New York City, or the ending I got for Candy and Irv. I did not know what to expect when I bought Numbers Don’t Lie and it still all surprised me.

I can't claim any particular cleverness on this one. I just recognized the story about the junkyard and the one as one I'd answered before and then I trolled for other details.

  • 1
    I assume this is the collections name: Numbers Don't Lie. From the link: These inventive stories were originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction as “The Hole in the Hole,” “The Edge of the Universe,” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.”
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 14:55
  • 1
    @TheLethalCarrot: Indeed. A bit of research later, and I found some details that matched up with the other two stories being from the same collection.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 15:00
  • @Z-6PO: ^_^ As I said, I only knew this one due to the prior story. My first searches for science fiction short stories "Chinese physicist" were getting me nowhere.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 15:58
  • 1
    I bought Numbers Don’t Lie after reading this post. I’ve read one of the 3 stories so far. I really liked it and glad I found your post.
    – Rich
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 11:59

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