Nobel Prize laureate James Priss has been baited his whole life by his financially successful rival, Edward Bloom, who has amassed his fortune by finding practical uses for Priss' theoretical discoveries. When Bloom does so one more time, creating a way of flattening out the space-time continuum, Priss seizes the occasion to commit a unique murder. Maybe.

This is a terrific story, one which spawned an unusually long thread once on alt.books.isaac-asimov in which people were making statements about the story when they clearly hadn’t read it in a while (inasmuch as it directly contradicted what they were saying). Although that might give one cause to shrug, the fact is that it’s an excuse to reread “The Billiard Ball” itself, and one has no objection to that.

(The story, by the way, was written for a special Hugo-winner issue of If. Asimov had just won a Hugo for the Foundation series.)

This is not a whodunit, but a "did-he-do-it"? The mystery is simply did Priss kill Bloom accidentally, or on purpose? Meanwhile, we’re introduced to two very memorable characters, shown a unique perspective on general relativity and the consequences of violating it, and had a wonderful time. This is the final story in Asimov’s Mysteries, and is easily the best of the lot.

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...