When I was in my teens, I think (if so it must have been in the seventies or early eighties), I read a short story about a single person landing in a space ship on a hostile military planet, and then driving everyone mad there with paradoxes. In this way he managed to beat them, or get out safely or something like that. Maybe even engender a revolution.

The reason I would like to find this story again, is that it ends with a description of him back in his ship and on his way, trying to think of a cardinality between those of the natural numbers and the real numbers. This clearly was about the continuum hypothesis, although I don't think it was named like that in the story. And then the story ends with something like "... and then he did not look stable at all."

This might have been a Robert Sheckley story, but I searched for a long time and haven't found it, so this may not be the case.

  • I found a few sci-fi stories featuring the Continuum Hypothesis. Not what you're looking for, though.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 27, 2019 at 10:04
  • Hi Rand al'Thor, thanks for the pointers! I did know about the Rucker stories, but not about Neverness. I'll have a look. Apr 27, 2019 at 13:52
  • John, the answer is duplicate, but I wouldn't have recognized the story from that other question. So is this really a duplicate question? There is no mention of the continuum hypothesis with the other question. (OTOH, I'm very happy that I finally found this story again, so I won't complain!) Apr 27, 2019 at 13:53
  • Our policy is to close story-ID questions as duplicates if they have the same (confimed) answer, even if the questions look different. It doesn't say anything against the quality of your question, of course - dupe closure is different from other types of closure.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 27, 2019 at 13:56
  • Rand al'Thor, I get it, thanks for the explanation! Apr 27, 2019 at 14:13

1 Answer 1


"Diabologic" by Eric Frank Russell.

Previously identified as the answer to Funny short story on man and insect that land on new planet and irritate war-loving inhabitants

The ending you are thinking of is:

Sighing again, he took paper from a drawer, commenced his hundredth, two hundredth or maybe three-hundredth try at concocting an Aleph number higher than A, but lower than C. He mauled his hair until it stuck out in spikes, and although he didn't know it, he did not look especially well-balanced himself.

  • Yes! Thank you very very much. Apr 27, 2019 at 10:53

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