—And He Built a Crooked House—

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

There Was A Crooked Man

—And He Built a Crooked House— is a short story by Robert A. Heinlein, first published in 1941.

Quintus Teal is an architect always looking for the next big thing in design. While having a friendly conversation with his friend, Homer Bailey, Teal dreams about building a house that utilizes a fourth dimension. When he admits that this is currently impossible, he still thinks that the preliminary steps toward it could be a great new design type and he persuades Bailey to let him build a new house for him as an unfolded tesseract. When it is completed, he proudly takes Bailey and his wife to view the innovative new home. However, a small earthquake during the night has made the impossible a reality, and unfortunately, Teal and the Baileys become trapped in the middle of his architectural masterpiece.

Tropes used in —And He Built a Crooked House— include:
  • Alien Geometries
  • Author Avatar - Heinlein makes a brief allusion to himself as the "Hermit of Hollywood" who lives across the street from Teal.
  • Bizarrchitecture - Literally taken to the next dimension.
  • Fainting - Mrs. Bailey repeatedly does the Emotional Faint variety throughout the story.
  • Going in Circles - Teal winds up chasing himself around the entire tesseract several times before retrieving his own dropped hat and realizing what's happened.
  • Henpecked Husband - Bailey shows signs of this as his wife can be quite shrewish. However, given the events of the story, her dislike of Teal may be well placed.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place
  • I Need a Freaking Drink - When Teal hands Bailey a shot of liquor to help revive his wife, he downs it himself.
  • Literary Allusion Title - To the nursery rhyme There Was A Crooked Man.
  • Only in America - The introduction to the story is the perfect explanation of this trope (see trope page for the quote).