a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Cantor Trilogy (2015)
Harun Šiljak
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

An intriguing short work of speculative fiction about a future in which nearly all mathematics research is conducted by computers. In fact, in the story, only one journal (The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics), still publishes math research done by human mathematicians. However, a clever hero (known sometimes as George Miller and sometimes as Györay Molnar) who is displeased with this development is able to knock the automated mathematicians (known as "cantors") out of the game, at least temporarily.

The story was enjoyable enough, though I think it was a bit too contrived to have any significance regarding the actual use of computers in mathematics research. In addition, it unfortunately is written in broken English (mostly just missing articles).

Ironically, this story was originally published in the real "Journal of Humanistic Mathematics" (Volume 5, Issue 1 ,January 2015, pages 299-310) (available for free here) and recently 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 Cantor Trilogy
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Turing (A Novel About Computation) by Christos Papadimitriou
  2. Murder on the Einstein Express by Harun Šiljak
  3. Cantor’s Dragon by Craig DeLancy
  4. Normed Trek by Harun Šiljak
  5. Music of the Spheres by Ken Liu
  6. White Rabbit, Red Wolf [This Story is a Lie] by Tom Pollock
  7. Proof by Induction by José Pablo Iriarte
  8. White Light, or What is Cantor's Continuum Problem? by Rudy Rucker
  9. Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan
  10. Mathematical Revelations by Helen De Cruz
Ratings for Cantor Trilogy:
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:
4/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifProving Theorems,
MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

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Exciting News: The total number of works of mathematical fiction listed in this database recently reached a milestone. The 1,500th entry is The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for writing the summary of that work (and so many others). I am also grateful to everyone who has contributed to this website. Heck, I'm grateful to everyone who visited the site. Thank you!

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)