a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Fantasia Mathematica : Being a Set of Stories, Together With a Group of Oddments and Diversions, All Drawn from ... (1958)
Clifton Fadiman (editor)
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)
Highly Rated!

This is the first of the two wonderful, classic collections of mathematically flavored literature and such by Clifton Fadiman. (The second is "Mathematical Magpie".) Fortunately, it is now available for free online, as Amit Dhakulkar explains:

Contributed by Amit Dhakulkar

Thanks for the amazing listing of the books and other resources on your site.

This mail is regarding the Fantasia Mathematica. The book is available for reading (borrowing would be the proper word) online at the Internet Archive at this url:

It would be nice if you could include this link in the comments on the page for Fantasia Mathematica.

Following is a partial listing of the contents with links to the other works that are included in this database. To see my listing other collections of mathematical short stories, click here.


Odd Numbers

  • "Young Archimedes" by Aldous Huxley
  • "Pythagoras and the Psychoanalyst" by Arthur Koestler
  • "Mother and the Decimal Point" by Richard Llewellyn
  • "Jurgen Proves it by Mathematics" by James Branch Cabell
  • "Peter Learns Arithmetic" by H.G. Wells
  • "Socrates and the Slave" by Plato
  • "The Death of Archimedes" by Karel Capek



(I'm not going to type in the titles of all of these snippets, poems and quotes that make up pages 261-298 of this book, but suggest you take a look if you are interested in this sort of thing! -- ak)

Contributed by LC Gundo

The editor of this compilation suggests that this book is for lay people, and that mathematicians may find the stories lacking mathematical substance.

Contributed by Stan Sirody

First read this in 1963. Found a used copy in 2001 on Amazon and grabbed it for re-reading. Still fascinating all these years later!

Contributed by Nidia Fernandez-Lee

I used the book with my younger 7th grade students and now with my AP Calculus students. It has a little bit of everything for everyone in it. Even students who don't "get into" math enjoy the literature. Some of the stories are a little slow, but there is something in there for everyone.

Contributed by Sonja Dezman

Fantasia Mathematica certainly deserves to be in the list of Mathematical fiction. The book is interesting. It is not exactly fun and it gets boring from time to time. It is appropriate for all readers. I am a student of mathematics and I liked it. My professor of English literature has read it and he also liked it. At the moment my professor of mathematics is reading it. It truly is for everyone. What surprises me is that although it is based on mathematics it is very mysterious. It is like reading high quality Science Fiction.

Contributed by Robert W. Franson

My mother was very fond of this anthology, and in her copy I first read many of these stories, some of which are classics of the kind.

Contributed by Gene Chase

One of the first and few hardcover books I ever bought -- when I was in high school (1958-1961). I have re-read it many times. I have loaned it many times, leaving the dust jacket off so that I could preserve it. One year (1966-1967) when I taught Intro to Math at a sister college, I read some of the short stories out loud on the day before school vacations, on the grounds that the students were required to attend but their mind was on the vacation. Contributed to my being a mathematician. -- Dr. Gene B. Chase, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Computer Science, Messiah College

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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 Fantasia Mathematica : Being a Set of Stories, Together With a Group of Oddments and Diversions, All Drawn from ...
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Mathematical Magpie: Being more stories, mainly transcendental, plus subjects of essays, rhymes, music, anecdotes, ... by Clifton Fadiman (editor)
  2. Reality Conditions: short mathematical fiction by Alex Kasman
  3. Mathenauts: Tales of Mathematical Wonder by Rudy Rucker (editor)
  4. Imaginary Numbers : An Anthology of Marvelous Mathematical Stories, Diversions, Poems, and Musings by William Frucht (editor)
  5. Riot at the Calc Exam and Other Mathematically Bent Stories by Colin Adams
  6. Racconti Matematici by Claudio Bartocci (Editor)
  7. The Shape of Content: Creative Writing in Mathematics and Science by Chandler Davis (editor) / Marjorie Senechal (editor) / Jan Zwicky (editor)
  8. The Feeling of Power by Isaac Asimov
  9. The Mathematics of Nina Gluckstein by Esther Vilar
  10. Napier's Bones by Derryl Murphy
Ratings for Fantasia Mathematica : Being a Set of Stories, Together With a Group of Oddments and Diversions, All Drawn from ...:
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:
4.11/5 (9 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.78/5 (9 votes)

MediumShort Stories, Collection, Available Free Online,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)