a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Note: This work of mathematical fiction is recommended by Alex for literati.|
|Although the mathematics is only discussed in this novel in the vaguest terms, it is of the greatest importance to the book. Gabriel Swan, the main character/narrator is so focused on numbers and equations that even his descriptions of non-mathematical situations are described in mathematical terms. He attributes his fascination with numbers to his knowledge of his twin who died at birth:
We follow Gabriel through a very messy childhood and adolescence, encountering the unpleasant side of life far too often. His mother's unexpected death in a car accident, his own tragic accident leaving him burned and scarred over his entire body, his first girlfriend's deafness and his first lover who was a drug addict. Throughout all of this, Gabriel seeks order in his mathematics and hopes to apply it to the real world around him.
This is what the author is trying to show us: the chaos of the real world cannot be tamed by numbers. Of course, the chaos he refers to has nothing to do with the mathematical definition of chaos. This is not sensitive dependence, nor transitivity. It is just the unpleasantness of reality which Swan cannot tame with numbers. Nevertheless, one of his mathematical mentors, Professor Kosok, is working on research which precisely demonstrates this lack of usefulness of numbers. Wnen a representative of the representative of the government comes to complain about his use of the grant money they have given him (to perform calculations on an old, teletype main frame computer) the following conversation ensues:
You won't learn any mathematics from this book, but I still recommend it as a well written piece of literature in which math plays a fundamental role.
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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.)|
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)