a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Chronicles of a Comer (1972) || K.M O'Donnell (aka Barry N. Malzberg) |
A short story about a statistician who believes in the
second coming of Christ and looks for it in the statistical
correlations between the events and people's reactions to
those events (e.g. "14% of college-educated housewives
believe in stronger repressive measures against the
drug-culture, 51% of working class males above the median
salary believe television is a government plot").
Presumably, he's looking for spikes in certain types of
correlations which could signal His arrival.. He gets so
obsessed that his marriage suffers ("my wife says, 'you're
just a cold-hearted statistician who only sees people as
numbers and trends'") along with his professional life
("simple statistical errors, flaws of computation a child
would not have made, misplacement of median and mode" and
"today I missed an entire distribution curve").
His obsession leads him to suspect that He might show
up as a regular character in his daily life and
half-believes the crazed beggar into whom he runs during
lunch hour one day might be Jesus. Turns out that the crazed
beggar really was a lunatic; the beggar attacks him without
reason, putting him out of commission for a few days. After
that, the statistician starts leading a normal life
but then has a new vision... he sees Christ in the
statistical fact that 47% of Dayton, Ohio, does not believe
in the teachings of any of the various Churches...
Originally published in the collection "And Walk Now Gently Through the Fire" (ed. Roger Elwood, Chilton 1972) and prominently reprinted in "Chronicles of a Comer and Other Religious Science Fiction Stories" (ed. Roger Elwood, John Knox Press 1974).
|(Note: This is just one work of
mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more
works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)|
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(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)