a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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On Another Plane (2020)
Colin Adams
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

A woman with flowing white hair and flowing white robes sits next to a mathematician on a plane and very casually helps him to prove the Riemann Hypothesis.

(quoted from On Another Plane)

‘‘I’m not much for knowing what’s famous and what is not. It just doesn’t seem that proving such a fact should be so hard.’’

‘‘Really,’’ I said. ‘‘Not so hard? Have you ever tried to prove it?’’

‘‘No, but it seems that Jensen polynomials of the Riemann zeta function should be relevant. If you prove they have only real roots, wouldn’t that be enough?’’

‘‘Well, yes that is true,’’ I said. ‘‘But we’ve known that for 90 years. Where did you study mathematics? You must have a PhD.’’

‘‘I have never studied mathematics. I just enjoy reading about it. It’s so abstract. The life of the mind and all that.’’ She smiled, a faraway look in her eye.

This short story appeared in the author's regular column "Mathematically Bent" in Volume 42 Issue 2 of The Mathematical Intelligencer. The stories in his column are always mathematical fiction, but I am in the habit of only listing a few that stand out (and the collected anthologies) here. To me, this one stood out as not just being a joke, not just some math puns strung together into a story, but something a bit more serious and thought-provoking.

More information about this work can be found at
(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 On Another Plane
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Journey to the Center of Mathematics by Colin Adams
  2. Unreasonable Effectiveness by Alex Kasman
  3. Into Thin Air by Colin Adams
  4. Riot at the Calc Exam and Other Mathematically Bent Stories by Colin Adams
  5. Mathematically Bent by Colin Adams
  6. Numbercruncher by Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
  7. Matrices by Steven Nightingale
  8. Monday Begins on Saturday by Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
  9. The Devil You Don't by Keith Laumer
  10. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Ratings for On Another Plane:
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, Fantasy,
MotifProving Theorems, Female Mathematicians,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)