He invented a machine that could dig a hole while making holographic thread. He makes a hoop that leads to other worlds or dimensions and when he throws it onto the floor, a women gets transported through it.

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    Based just on the title, I was hoping this would be a very roundabout description of The Gods Themselves.
    – Buzz
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 1:31

3 Answers 3


You may be thinking of the Gallegher stories by Henry Kuttner (sometimes writing as Lewis Padgett). He would invent things while blackout drunk. The stories are collected in a book called "Robots Have No Tails" or "The Proud Robot."

The story with the digger is called "Gallegher Plus". It was in Astounding Stories, November 1943. (link to The Internet Archive)

"What is this?"

"A machine," the robot said, "but by no means as lovely as I."

"I hope it's more useful. What does it do?"

"It eats dirt."

"Oh. That explains the hole in the back yard."

"There is no back yard," the robot pointed out accurately.

Gallegher finally gets in touch with his customer and asks what he was supposed to invent.

"I asked you if you could devise a method of projecting three-dimensional images that could be viewed from any angle, from back or side, without distortion."

I could not find an anthology that included both this story and the Howard Fast story mentioned in a comment. So, there might not be any one book which contained both scenarios mentioned in the question.

  • The Howard Fast story doesn't match anyway, the hoop in Fast's story is not thrown on the floor, and it's not a woman who disappears into it.
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 2:46

nebogipfel's answer suggests Gallegher Plus; I think that's slightly off-target.

The digging machine that makes thread is so distinctive that I am 99.9% confident that it came from that specific story. However, from the other elements you describe, I think you probably read Kuttner's Gallegher anthology, Robots Have No Tails. I don't have a paper copy handy; the foreword from C.L. Moore (his wife) is dated 1952. It does include Gallegher Plus, but that story doesn't have all of the elements you mentioned.

Before going further, There are a few common and noteworthy feature of the stories. One is Gallegher's "liquor organ", which pipes booze through a straw as he holds keys down. Gallegher does most of his work while too drunk to remember, and the stories are usually about him trying to figure out what drunk-him did. Another is his omniscient and unhelpful robot, who is narcistic. Anything sound familiar?

The first story, Time Locker has a locker (basically a chest) that "shrinks things" placed in it. Later it is revealed that what it actually does is more complicated and ironic. However, early in the story, Gallagher and an associate lay it on its back, on the floor, and lower a bench into it.

As mentioned by nebogipfel, the story with the digging machine that makes a supertensile thread (for starship controls), which also can be used to make 3d images, is "Gallagher Plus". Incidentally, the machine also sings.

There isn't anything that matches a woman going through a hoop, though the story about movie theaters has some parts that might be easy to conflate with the first story and remember that way.

  • I did not claim that the Gallagher Plus story answers the scenario about the hoop and the woman falling through it. I showed how the story contains the digging and the holography. I clarified that the Howard Fast story which was suggested, was not in any anthology with Gallagher Plus. "So, there might not be any one book which contained both scenarios mentioned in the question."
    – nebogipfel
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 23:00
  • @nebogipfel absolutely! Your answer was first and caught the biggest piece of the puzzle. I thought I had a complete answer, but still wanted to credit you.
    – fectin
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 23:12

"Lathe of Heaven," by Ursula LeGuin.

There was a film adaptation, too.

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! Can you explain how this matches the details provided in the question?
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 17:23

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