The story features a man who is testing a prototype (I think) teleportation device the company he works for is creating to shorten his commute to work. When you step into the teleporter you walk through a short hallway “inside” before reaching your destination. While in this hallway, the man notices tiny creatures in fissures in the wall, and interacts with them more and more until they start passing him notes. He takes the notes to a language expert at his company and begins corresponding with the creatures, who begin asking him philosophical questions, which he does his best to answer. In the end, he’s fired for not reporting this and for misusing the language expert as a resource, and in the final scene he’s showing off a leather bound collection of his wisdom which now has the label on the spine “The Holy Bible.”

In my memory this was a Philip K. Dick story, which I thought would make it easy to track down, but I’ve flipped through every collection of his short stories I can find and haven’t found it.

2 Answers 2


This is "Prominent Author" (1954) by Philip K. Dick.

The story itself is a precursor to THE CRACK IN SPACE (1965) in that a businessman takes the ‘jiffi-scuttler’ short-cut through space to his office and finds a thin spot in the wall of the tunnel itself. On the other side of the wall little people run around and send miniature messages to him. He translates these and sends messages back. Soon he realizes that these people are starting to worship him and in the end, when he’s caught by his boss and fired, he receives one last missive from the little people and discovers, with satisfaction, that he is the author of a famous book: The Holy Bible.

(via philipdick.com, thanks to @Michael Seifert)

As noted on Wikipedia, the events of this story are noted in passing in Dick's later "Cantata 140" and The Crack in Space.

You can read the story in If at the Internet Archive.

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    This is it! “Prominent Author” is, specifically, the one I was looking for, though I’ll need to read both, now! Thank you!! Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 5:14
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    @ThomasBrady if this answer is correct remember to accept it Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 15:18

There's a lot more to the story than this, but it sounds a lot like "Cantata 140" (1964) by Philip K. Dick, published only in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1964.

The point-to-point transportation devices are called "'scuttlers" and are described as grey-walled tubes. The original inventor, Henry Ellis, found that he could look out from the tube and see tiny people who spoke ancient Hebrew; other people have found that they can access other, secret, places through the cracks to hide.

Historically, the original defective 'scuttler had belonged to an employee of Terran Development named Henry Ellis. After the fashion of humans Ellis had not reported the defect to his employers... or so Rick recalled. It had been before his time but myth persisted, an incredible legend, still current among 'scuttler repairmen, that through the defect in his 'scuttler Ellis had—it was hard to believe—composed the Holy Bible.

The principle underlying the operation of the 'scuttlers was a limited form of time travel. Along the tube of his 'scuttler—it was said—Ellis had found a weak point, a shimmer, at which another continuum completely had been visible. He had stooped down and witnessed a gathering of tiny persons who yammered in speeded-up voices and scampered about in their world just beyond the wall of the tube.

Who were these people? Initially, Ellis had not known, but even so he had engaged in commerce with them; he had accepted sheets—astonishingly thin and tiny—of questions, taken the questions to language-decoding equipment at TD, then, once the foreign script of the tiny people had been translated, taking the questions to one of the corporation's big computers to get them answered. Then back to the Linguistics Department and at last at the end of the day, back up the tube of the Jiffi-scuttler to hand to the tiny people the answers—in their own language—to their questions.

A description of the 'scuttler in operation:

He entered the big gleaming circular hoop which was the entrance of the 'scuttler, found himself—as usual—within a gray, formless tube which stretched in both directions. Framed in the opening behind him lay his work bench. And in front of him—

New York City. An unstable view of an industriously-active street corner which bordered Dr. Sands' office.

You can read the story in F&SF at the Internet Archive. The story was later expanded into The Crack in Space (1966) (Wikipedia plot summary) which carries the story further into what happens when the government tries to open the alternate world lines to colonization.

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    The Wikipedia article mentions an earlier story, Prominent Author, the events of which are noted as a past event in The Crack in Space. Judging from the title, it seems likely to be OP's story, but I'm not an SFF regular and have no idea where to look for more information on it. Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 1:54
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    @UnrelatedString: The descriptions here and here seem to match pretty well. Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 2:46
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    @UnrelatedString That does indeed look like a better answer; with the resources Michael posted you should answer the question yourself.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 3:25
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    Thank you so much! I’ve been searching for this for years! Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 5:13
  • How strange and unlikely is Harry Ellis is due to an early meeting between PKD and Harlan Ellison. Too early, I think.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 9:58

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