I am looking for an old (about sixties or seventies I believe) science fiction novel beginning with a man that after a lot of time trying finally succeeds in levitating a coin or some other small object that starts upwards and disappears through the ceiling.

I read the novel in an italian translation, in a paperback series very well known in the sixties, "Urania".

I believe this was just the beginning of a whole complex plot, and the man unraveled the secret of antigravity, at least I think this was his purpose. Certainly the novel went on with other characters. At the moment this is all I can tell.

  • Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! This question is very terse and would be greatly improved by going through the checklists here; How to ask a good story-ID question?
    – Valorum
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 19:46
  • 1
    Who is the man? What is his name? Why is he trying to levitate a coin? What it the upshot of him succeeding? Were there any other characters? Was the coin-levitation an integral part of the novel or just a sub-plot? Was he the only person in the world with psychic powers or just a.n.other psychic?
    – Valorum
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 19:47
  • 1
    Did you read that in English, was that a translation? Sorry for all the questions - but please edit in any more information you may remember, as it will help other people tracking it down :)
    – Jenayah
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


It's not by concentration, but by attempting to copy this "magic trick" through means psychic, scientific, and frankly mental. When he finally succeeds – in the very first few pages of the novel – this mechanism gets developed further into some sort of anti-gravity drive, and the inhabitants of Earth scatter around the universe. That's where the short introduction ends; the main story picks up several hundreds of years later, when Earth has recovered from this, and starts sending around large military ships to distribute "ambassadors".

This is The Great Explosion by Eric Frank Russell (1962), a novel length version of his earlier story ... And then there were none from 1951. The short story only deals with a single of these encounters; the novel details a few more, and "... And then there were none" is where the enterprise of this particular ship effectively ends, as virtually all military and civilian personnel abandon the ship on an Utopian planet.

A relevant excerpt from the Prologue:

Four hours per day, four days per week, he sat at an office desk. The rest of his time was devoted wholly and with appalling single-mindedness to the task of levitating a penny. Wealth or power or shapely women had no appeal to him. Except when hunting a handkerchief his entire life was dedicated to what he deemed the ultimate triumph, namely, that of being able to exhibit a coin floating in mid-air.
(link to full text (Wayback machine))

  • Nice catch! Good answer, and almost definitely correct. If you want to make this even better, you can quote the first couple paragraphs of the Prologue: web.archive.org/web/20050428191203/http://tmh.floonet.net/books/…
    – DavidW
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 20:15
  • @DavidW: it's one of my favourite novelettes :) even though it's (even) older than I am. I came across another reference, hope you don't mind. Although I am unsure what (c) rules apply here.
    – The Know
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 20:18
  • Any attributed source is fine; I simply pointed to the first I found. Quoting a paragraph or two for non-commercial purposes is a valid Fair Dealing/Fair Use exception to copyright in every English-speaking jurisdiction I'm aware of.
    – DavidW
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 20:28
  • 2
    Yeah!!!! Thanks a lot!! it is. I This forum is wonderful! Commented May 2, 2019 at 20:33
  • Also the (unaccepted) answer to this old question scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/84424/… Commented May 3, 2019 at 1:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.