MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Argentine Ant (2017)
T.C. Boyle
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A mathematician, his wife, and their baby who suffers from a skin sensitivity condition uproot their lives and move to a new city:

(quoted from The Argentine Ant)

This was an adventure, pure and simple. Or more than an adventure; an escape. We took the train and then a succession of buses, the last of which deposited us in front of Signora Mauro's rambling house in the village, and all the time the baby was well-behaved and my wife, Anina, and I stared out the jolting windows and dreamed of a long period of respite in our lives, she no longer trapped in a minimum-wage job as a temporary secretary and I free to work on solving the projective algebraic problem known as the Hodge Conjecture and thereby winning the one-million-dollar Millennium Prize, a sum that would set us up handily for some time to come. Did I have unrealistic expectations? Perhaps. But I was twenty-eight years old and terminally exhausted with the classroom and academic life, and it is a truism that mathematicians, like poets, do their best work before thirty.

However, they had not counted on the horrific ant infestations that plague the residents of their new home town. Will the ants thwart their plans or inspire the young mathematician to come up with a proof?

Clearly inspired by a very similar story with the same title by Italo Calvino, Boyle's version was published in his collection "The Relive Box and Other Stories". (Click on Amazon link for more details.)

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(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.)

Works Similar to The Argentine Ant
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Incomplete Proofs by John Chu
  2. Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich
  3. What the Revolution Requires by Timons Esaias
  4. A Good Problem to Have by B.J. Novak
  5. The Idiot by Elif Batuman
  6. Matrices by Steven Nightingale
  7. Problems for Self-Study by Charles Yu
  8. Naked Came the Post-modernist by Sarah Lawrence College Writing Class WRIT-3303-R / Melvin Jules Bukiet
  9. Midtown Pythagoras by Michael Brodsky
  10. The Weight of Numbers by Simon Ings
Ratings for The Argentine Ant:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
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Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)
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Categories:
GenreHumorous,
MotifProving Theorems,
TopicReal Mathematics,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)