When I was in early high school, I remember reading a book that was set in an alternate world in which vehicles slid along on tracks using a frictionless, perfect lubricant.

I thought it may have been a Discworld book, but I haven't been able to actually find what book it was. I'm not sure if it was a Discworld book or not.

edit: I think it was from a book that was kind of in the vein of Red Dwarf or Hitchiker's Guide or something similar. I liked those semi-humorous sci-fi fiction books at the time.

edit2: I think the cover also had some kind of cartoon people or animal-looking people on it, and may or may not have had a picture of one of the vehicles. Just kind of a carriage-style thing, maybe with sleds.


2 Answers 2


Sounds like David Brin's The Practice Effect

It has frictionless liquids which are used to make a travois style cart efficient, and a quasi-medieval setting.

Other details I remember include practicing a zip fastener until it became a flexible saw, and a manned kite into an aircraft. The protagonist also added crude wheels to a cart, then practiced them into an fast vehicle.

  • Sorry, I don't think that was it. None of the stuff on that wikipedia page sounded familiar. Thanks for the answer anyway. That book sounds too serious. My question has been edited.
    – localhost
    Apr 7, 2014 at 6:40
  • It not very serious - the wiki article doesn't describe it well. I will add some more details I remember, I only read it last year!
    – Gerry Coll
    Apr 7, 2014 at 6:50
  • I still don't think it's that book, I don't remember any mutating of objects happening, and it seems like something that I would remember. I remember pretty clearly a description of the lubricant getting on the protagonist's hand and him being unable to squeeze his fingers together.
    – localhost
    Apr 7, 2014 at 10:19
  • @localhost: Huh... they actually have that happen in The Practice Effect as well when the protagonist first explores how the runners work.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jan 19, 2016 at 16:25
  • @FuzzyBoots You are right, it is The Practice Effect! I found the section in the book. Thanks everyone!
    – localhost
    Jun 13, 2016 at 12:53

It could have been Doctor Who - The Infinity Race by Simon Messingham - http://www.mentalis.co.uk/paul-mcgann/bbc-eighth-doctor-adventures.aspx?p=8#61.

It's set on the planet Selonart where a boat race is taking place in a friction nullifying light water.

  • Sorry, I don't think it was a Doctor Who either... I've never read a Doctor Who, and I don't remember a boat race.
    – localhost
    Apr 7, 2014 at 22:47

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