|In the first portion of this short story, a teenager and the aunt who took her in when her parents died enjoy doing math together. However, when the girl begins to get advanced training from Cambridge mathematicians and discovers a "universal equation", the story takes an interesting but decidedly nonlinear turn.
The math described in the story is never deep or interesting in itself, but there is a poetry to the author's descriptions of it that I like:
|(quoted from The Central Tendency)|
Sometimes I forgot what time it was, what day it was, because I was lost in numbers and how they all have different faces, depending on how you look at them. Sixteen is twice eight, or two to the power of four, or a ninth of twelve squared.
Then Lallie slowly showed me something better than numbers. She showed me tools and schemes. Matrices and transformations, laws, proofs, operations. Every number has a million faces, but the million faces all line up and you can cancel them all out and just be left with abstractions, blank-faced letters alone at the heart of everything.
In the same way, although I'm not sure I could describe for you what happens at the end -- to me it's sort of like a recursive definition that regresses infinitely -- there is still something emotionally satisfying about it.
This story was published in the July 2003 issue of Strange Horizons and fortunately is still available online.