a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Normed Trek (2014)
Harun Šiljak
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

This short story is a parody that combines elements of Star Trek with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland using concepts and terminology from mathematics (especially analysis).

(quoted from Normed Trek)

Limit, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the function ex. Its continuous mission to explore new normed find new norms and boldly converge where no function converged before.

The characters in this story are functions themselves, and the action often takes the form of the application of transformations to these functions. The Dirichlet Function plays the role of the evil Queen of Hearts, and the hero is able to defeat her in a way that can be somewhat entertaining if you know enough math, but would almost certainly be completely incomprehensible to most readers.

The author, who is now an electrical engineer at International Burch University in Sarajevo, apparently wrote the story originally when he was a student. It was first published in Volume 36 Issue 3 of the Mathematical Intelligencer (September 2014, pp. 53-55) and recently was republished in the collection Murder on the Einstein Express and Other Stories (Springer, 2016).

I gratefully thank Dr. Allan Goldberg for bringing this work to my attention.

Contributed by Dr. Allan Goldberg

I own many of the titles found on your web site, and find the commentary there enlightening and enjoyable.

I am not a mathematician, but have a strong interest in many mathematical subjects. Please forgive my lack of mathematical sophistication.

I just finished ["Murder on the Einstein Express and Other Stories"] and have the following comments:

In my opinion, the reason the editors of the series didn't adequately proof it for syntax is that they didn't understand it.

The first story, Normed Trek, becomes clear once you consider it's relation to a Fourier series, the clunker term involving ln x, and the incompatibility of transcendental and non-transcendental functions. The mathematical equivalent of a "quest" for love is a cute touch.

The second story, the Cantor Trilogy, provides a nice twist ending presumably having a "traditional" mathematician using the liar's paradox to foil computer infallibility

The third story, In Search of Future Time, is a convoluted attempt to explain dreams in the context of the ever evolving computer-brain interface.

The fourth story, Murder on the Einstein Express, is a mixed bag of SOMETIMES well written informal vignettes expounding on counterintuitive or controversial aspects of mathematics and physics. The plagiarism section made no sense until I consulted the author's the Science Behind the Fiction section. The tie in with Borges is a nice touch.

All in all, this short anthology is of diverting interest and if properly proofed and edited, could have been much clearer and entertaining.

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Works Similar to Normed Trek
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Adventures of Topology Man by Alex Kasman
  2. The Mathenauts by Norman Kagan
  3. Murder on the Einstein Express by Harun Šiljak
  4. The Legend of Howard Thrush by Alex Kasman
  5. Uncle Georg's Attic by Ben Schumacher
  6. Numberland by George Weinberg
  7. The Living Equation by Nathan Schachner
  8. Jack and the Aktuals, or, Physical Applications of Transfinite Set Theory by Rudy Rucker
  9. On the Quantum Theoretic Implications of Newton's Alchemy by Alex Kasman
  10. Cantor Trilogy by Harun Šiljak
Ratings for Normed Trek:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
5/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,
TopicAnalysis/Calculus/Differential, Real Mathematics,
MediumShort Stories,

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