The Bistromathic Drive is a wonderful new method of crossing vast interstellar distances without all that dangerous mucking about with Improbability Factors.

Bistromathics itself is simply a revolutinary new way of understanding the behavior of numbers. Just as Einstein observed that space was not an absolute, but depended on the observer's movement in time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute, but depend on the observer's movement in restaurants.

The first nonabsolute number is the number of people for whom the table is reserved. This will vary during the course of the first three telephone calls to the restaurant, and then bear no apparent relation to the number of people who actually turn up, or to the number of people who subssequently join them after the show/match/party/gig, or to the number of people who leave when they see who else has turned up.

The second nonabsolute number is the given time of arrival, which is now known to be one of the most bizarre of mathematical concepts, a recipriversexcluson, a number whose can only be defined as being anything other than itself. In other words, the given time of arrival is the one moment of time at which it is impossible that any member of the party will arrive. Recipriversexclusons now play a vital part in many branches of Math, including statistics and accountancy and also form the basic equations used to engineer the Somebody Else's Problem field.

The third and most mysterious piece of nonabsoluteness of all lies in the relationship between the number of items on the check, the cost of each item, the number of people at the table and what they are actually prepared to pay for. (The number of people who actually brought any money is only a subphenomenon in this field.)

The baffling discrepancies that used to occur at this point remained uninvestigated for centuries simply because no one took them seriously. They were at the time put down to such things as politeness, rudeness, meanness, flashiness, tiredness, emotionality or the lateness of the hour, and completely forgotten about on the following morning. They were never tested under labratory conditions, of course, because they never occurred in labratories--not in reputable labratories at least.

And so it was only with the advent of pocket computers that the startling truth became apparent, and it was this:

Numbers written on restaurant checks within the confines of restaurants do not follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces of paper in the Universe.

This single statement took the scientific world by storm. It completely revolutionized it. So many mathematical conferances go held in such good restaurants that many of the finest minds of a generation died of obesity and heart failure and the science of math was put back by years.

Slowly, however, the implications of the idea began to be understood. To begin with it had been too stark, too crazy, too much like what the man in the street would have said "Oh yes, I could have told you that." Then some phrases like "Interactive Subjectivity Frameworks" were invented, and everbody was able to relax and get on with it.

The small groups of monks who had taken up hanging around the major research institutions singing stange chants to the effect that the Universe was only a figment of its own imagination were eventually given a street theater grant and went away.