From the novelette "The Children's Hour" by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore (first published in Astounding Science Fiction, March 1944, available at the Internet Archive):

"Supermen?" Lessing echoed. With an obvious effort he forced his mind into focus and sat up straighter, looking at Dyke with a thoughtful frowm. "Maybe. Or maybe—Lieutenant, do you ever read Cabell? In one of his books somewhere I think he has a character refer to a sort of super-race that impinges on ours with only one . . . one facet. He uses the analogy of geometry, and suggests that the other race might be represented by cubes that show up as squares on the plane geometric surface of our world, though in their own they have a cubic mass we never guess." He frowned more deeply and was silent.

What book are they talking about? There's not much to go on, but at least we know the author—James Branch Cabell—so this should be answerable.

The only books of Cabell's that I've read are Jurgen, Figures of Earth, The Silver Stallion, Something About Eve, and The Cream of the Jest. It's probably not one of those because the description rings no bells; however, it's been many years since I read them.


The story is Concerning Corinna, which you can find on the Gutenberg web site here.

"He had found in every country in the world traditions of a race who were human—yet more than human. That is the most exact fashion in which I can express his beginnings. On every side he found the notion of a race who can impinge on mortal life and partake of it—but always without exercising the last reach of their endowments. Oh, the tradition exists everywhere, whether you call these occasional interlopers fauns, fairies, gnomes, ondines, incubi, or demons. They could, according to these fables, temporarily restrict themselves into our life, just as a swimmer may elect to use only one arm—or, a more fitting comparison, become apparent to our human senses in the fashion of a cube which can obtrude only one of its six surfaces into a plane. You follow me, of course, sir?—to the triangles and circles and hexagons this cube would seem to be an ordinary square. Conceiving such a race to exist, we might talk with them, might jostle them in the streets, might even intermarry with them, sir—and always see in them only human beings, and solely because of our senses' limitations."

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    Great, thanks! How did you find it? You've read it before? There's a Cabell concordance? You Googled some clever choice of keywords? – user14111 Apr 16 at 22:03
  • This is from 1916 or so, 32 years after Flatland - presumably Cabell could have read it and gotten the idea from there? – Ben Bolker Apr 16 at 22:19
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    @user14111 I'd like to claim it was my encyclopaedic knowledge, but it was actually just dumb luck. I Googled this and it was top of the list. – John Rennie Apr 17 at 4:29
  • Hmm. The answer is at the bottom of the first page when I Google your keywords. (My question is at the top, naturally.) But it doesn't come up at all when I Startpage them. Damn, damn, damn. – user14111 Apr 17 at 5:02

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