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The Theory of Everything (1991)
Lisa Grunwald

Theoretical physicist Alexander Simon is on the verge of making a mathematical discovery of tremendous importance. By collapsing the hidden dimensions in string theory to a 2-dimensional manifold, he has found the long sought "theory of everything" (a mathematical model of physics that unifies all of the known forces). But then, why is he so unhappy?

Although there is a little math in this book, it is presented as being physics. (I guess mathematical physics is a subject in the gray area between two subjects so it could be viewed as either one or the other.) My favorite mathematical moment is when Flatland is mentioned as one of the inspirations that led him to his career choice and then eventually to this discovery. I like this both because it is a reference to the importance of mathematical fiction in mathematical fiction and also because (although this is not stated explicitly) it is an interesting contrast to his discovery which finds textit{real} flatlands (the two-dimensional things at each point in space that his theory describes.)

Most of the book, though, is not about math or physics but more usual human concerns (happiness, family) and supernatural or metaphysical worldviews (astrology, palm reading, angels, numerology and alchemy).

Contributed by Nancy Gluck

"I bought this book by accident, thinking that my husband (who had just survived a course on String Theory) would like it. I read it myself and especially enjoyed the contrast between the two different approaches to the ultimate reality: mathematics and alchemy."

Contributed by Susan Gaines

I read this a while ago, and thought it was a wonderful exploration of the intersections between mathmatics, philosophy and the individual. Successful as a work of literature, and as an exploration of ideas.

I stumbled on your site as I was beginning to put together ideas for a conference on "science in fiction" where novelists, sociologists of science, and scientists will gather to discuss the ways in which novelists can explore scientific knowledge in fiction, and address the question "Can we have meaningful discussions of scientific knowledge in fiction?" i.e. not just the social, political context of the science but the science itself. I myself fall into the first and last category (author of the novel "Carbon Dreams"; see the short essay "Sex, love and science" in Nature, Vol 413, 20 Sept 2001 pg 255.) but the true instigator of the conference is a group of sociologists of science in Bielefeld, Germany. Thanks for the great website. Susan M. Gaines

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Works Similar to The Theory of Everything
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Apartheid, Superstrings and Mordecai Thubana by Michael Bishop
  2. The Planiverse: computer contact with a two-dimensional world by A.K. Dewdney
  3. Flatterland: like Flatland, only more so by Ian Stewart
  4. Diaspora by Greg Egan
  5. Paradox by John Meaney
  6. The Mask of Zeus by Desmond Cory
  7. Sphereland: A Fantasy About Curved Spaces and an Expanding Universe by Dionys Burger
  8. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott
  9. The Man Without Qualities Vol. 1: A Sort of Introduction and Pseudo Reality Prevails by Robert Musil
  10. Eifelheim by Michael Flynn
Ratings for The Theory of Everything:
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 (3 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.75/5 (4 votes)

TopicMathematical Physics,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)