a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Kepler: A Novel (1981)
John Banville
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Johannes Kepler, the most famous Rennaissance court mathematician, is remembered today for his successes, especially his explicit description of planetary orbits. However, he also had some rather strange ideas which are rarely mentioned. (One that I remember is his explanation of why there are only 6 planets in terms of Platonic solids.)

This novel of historical fiction seeks to understand Kepler and his motivations. The author has done the same for several other historical figures and has a reputation for being able to do it well! As I write this (June 2000) I have not yet read this novel myself but have every reason to expect that it is well done. If you have read it, please write to me with more details (thanks!)

"Kepler is a magnificent novel, it makes for a fascinating read, especially after Banville's other piece on Copernicus which is equally riveting. He is without doubt, one of the finest literary talents to have emerged from Ireland in the last 40 years." (Contributed by anonymous.)

Contributed by Anonymous

The Revolution trilogy it's an excelent novel, where Copernicus and Kepler are men, more than astronomers or mathematicians. From a narratological point of view, the book is a very good example of modern (postmodern) writing.

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Works Similar to Kepler: A Novel
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. D'Alembert's Principle: A Novel in Three Panels by Andrew Crumey
  2. El matemático del Rey by Juan Carlos Arce
  3. Prince of Mathematics: Carl Friedrich Gauss by Margaret B.W. Tent
  4. Galileo by Bertolt Brecht
  5. The World as I Found It by Bruce Duffy
  6. Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis
  7. Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley
  8. The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt
  9. A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin
  10. Shooting the Sun by Max Byrd
Ratings for Kepler: A Novel:
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:
2.8/5 (5 votes)
Literary Quality:
4.4/5 (5 votes)

GenreHistorical Fiction,
MotifReal Mathematicians,

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May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)