I read this in an anthology approx 1990 - but the stories seemed older, maybe from the 1960's. This man is relaxing in his house while his pre-school daughter is playing with crayons and paper. He notices she's put a half twist in a narrow strip of paper and taped the ends together. As he watches she follows the loop around with her finger, then she uses a pencil to draw a line along the middle until it meets itself.

"That's called a Mobius strip" he tells her. She replies "Oh, so somebody else has already thought of it" At that point he realises she's like supersmart.

She doesn't want to be tested and probed or treated as unusual so they decide she should play the role of an average achiever. She returns from her first day at school and tells how the teacher showed her how to use scissors and another kid helped her fasten her coat. He tells her not to overplay it and not to go too far with appearing a little slow.

Soon she settles in but after a day at school she does her real studies of like really advanced physics and science etc. She gets a friend (a boy I think, maybe) and they hang out doing super clever stuff.

One day Dad notices she's disappeared but then returns and he learns she's been teleporting to another plane of existence, along with her friend - I think, but I'm not certain, that the pair eventually leave altogether, the reasons why they leave I can't remember


2 Answers 2


"Star Bright" by Mark Clifton

How would you feel if your daughter could make deep mathematical discoveries, even when she was a toddler? If you were the parent of little Star in this story, you'd feel a combination of pride and fear. Star and her equally smart little friend not only discover the interesting properties of the Mobius strip on their own, they also discover higher dimensional generalizations which allow them to travel to other points in time. ("Do they travel to the future or the past?" you ask. Oh, you clearly do not understand the topology of spacetime. Let Star explain to you why this question does not make sense.)

Searching for short story teleport moebius strip brought me to this Reddit question from 9 years ago.

  • 2
    Beat me to it :-D . Two stories somewhat related: "Mimsy were the Borogoves" by Henry Kuttner and Catherine Moore, and Dr. Pak's Preschool by David Brin.
    – LSerni
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 22:36
  • 2
    It also has an accepted answer on scifi.se: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/41102/…
    – user14111
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 23:38
  • @user14111 Good catch. I would keep both questions, though, as the hints are different, so depending on the search terms, future equiries might miss the other question.
    – Gwyn
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 0:27
  • @Gwyn: Eyeh, policy for story-identification is that if they have the same answer, they are duplicates.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 1:01
  • @Gwyn, questions marked as duplicates remain visible indefinitely, so they can still be found when searching. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 5:16

The bit about the Möbius strip, especially the quote clinches it for me. The story is Star Bright by Mark Clifton, first published in Galaxy in 1952.

The little girl, Star and her friend Robert are what they call "brights". They discover/learn to use higher dimensional generalisations like the Klein bottle, tesseract, etc. to, in Stars words, "ESP it" so they can travel in time and later other dimensions.

Since the copyright wasn't renewed, you can read it on project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/50935/50935-h/50935-h.htm

If you read it in anthology prior to 1997, it was probably in either Mathematical Magpie or in Tomorrow's Children, if later then it may have been in Time Machines.


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