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The Pi Man (1959)
Alfred Bester
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Jerry Summers

I found this work in an anthology of Alfred Bester short stories "The Dark Side of the Earth". It is an ironic story of a man that calls himself the Pi Man (irrational) that tries to set a pattern in Earth's population actions by performing irrational acts. The main character is a statistics major that has Extra Pattern Perception (Pi power) compared to Extra Sensory Perception (Psi power). There is some math like X^2 + X + 41 = prime number except when x=40 and discussion of pi. The author uses an irrational stream of consciousness style that is a little unnerving but palatable in short story form.

Contributed by Nomad

This is a great story. Under any circumstance less than the birth of a child would I ever use the word "amazing" to describe anything, but this is a terrific story. I wish I had written it.

I wish I knew where to get a copy of the story. (I know I could buy the collection, but there must be an easier way!)

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to The Pi Man
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Non-Statistical Man by Raymond F. Jones
  2. Into the Comet by Arthur C. Clarke
  3. The Feeling of Power by Isaac Asimov
  4. The Year of the Jackpot by Robert A. Heinlein
  5. Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein
  6. Brain Wave by Poul Anderson
  7. Vault of the Beast by Alfred Elton van Vogt
  8. The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin
  9. The Unwilling Professor by Arthur Porges
  10. Left or Right by Martin Gardner
Ratings for The Pi Man:
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:
2.5/5 (4 votes)
Literary Quality:
4.25/5 (4 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Probability/Statistics,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)