Singularities and Sisyphean Spikes in literature and film
July 2, 2017 6:32 AM   Subscribe

Looking for literary/filmic examples of singularities, infinite pits, wormholes, whirlpools, bore holes, large spacetimes in tiny crevices. But also... Peaks too high to navigate, infinite ascents, Sisyphean feats of endurance, energy spikes set to break reality, very tall towers.
posted by 0bvious to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
"Gateway" by Fred Pohl involves a crew trapped in orbit around a black hole.
posted by adamrice at 6:49 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

The Music of Chance by Paul Auster has an impossible construction job.
posted by goatdog at 7:59 AM on July 2

Egan's Permutation City has a character who spends a few hours climbing an infinite wall forever. It makes sense in context.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:18 AM on July 2

Wormholes are central to Farscape.
posted by sardonyx at 10:57 AM on July 2

In The Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang there is a short story called Tower of Babylon.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:07 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

The short story "Tower of Babylon" by Ted Chiang (in the collection "Stories of Your Life and Others") meets several of your criteria.
posted by adamrice at 11:10 AM on July 2

The Way in Greg Bear's Eon.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:15 AM on July 2

Red Dwarf has the Time Hole, aka giant swirly thingy.
posted by BeeDo at 12:47 PM on July 2

The novel White Light by Rudy Rucker is all about exploring the mathematical meaning of infinity, and the different natures of different levels of infinity. It includes such scenarios as trying to reach a planet that's an infinite distance from earth, climbing an infinitely tall mountain, and how a hotel with an infinite number of rooms could accommodate a new guest. It's all very mathematically sound while also being very silly.
posted by ejs at 12:51 PM on July 2

The Doctor Who episode "Heaven Sent" features the most Sisyphean feat of endurance I can remember committed to film. (I'd suggest watching it without reading the synopsis first, if you can.)
posted by ejs at 12:59 PM on July 2

The short story "Descending" by Thomas M. Disch is an excellent and early take on an infinite pit, as manifested by a department store escalator.
posted by ejs at 1:05 PM on July 2

House of Leaves
posted by oh pollo! at 1:31 PM on July 2

Whirlpools? See Edgar Allan Poe's A Descent Into The Maelström.
posted by Rash at 3:17 PM on July 2

zelazny's The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth, and Other Stories contains This Mortal Mountain - a terrific piece of short science fiction about the biggest mountain.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:29 PM on July 2

Sisyphean feats of endurance: touching the void, book and film five stars.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:31 PM on July 2

i haven't read the whole xelee sequence by baxter, but the anthology Vacuum Diagrams is largely centered around the effects of changing the local planck constant to zero. it's a grand tale that snapshots baxter's universal history from the big bang to heat death.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:46 PM on July 2

Singularity by William Sleator is a young adult sci-fi novel. Two twin boys are visiting a relative when they find out that a singularity exists in a shed on the relative's property. One of the twins decides to spend a "year" in the shed, which only takes a brief time in the real world, thus making him a year older than his twin.

Sleator's books usually took a single concept like this and fashioned a story around them.
posted by tacodave at 4:01 PM on July 3

Borges' The Aleph and The Library Of Babel among many others.
posted by Gortuk at 9:13 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]

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