MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Cascade Point (1983)
Timothy Zahn
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Contributed by Nelson Walker

"Cascade Point" by Timothy Zahn (1983, won the 1984 Hugo award) contains fictionalized mathematical analysis of higher-order dimensions of space/time.

The novel concerns future space travel whereby spacecraft enter a higher dimension using a field generator, then rotate the spacecraft within the field which results in translational displacement of the craft (i.e. it travels forward in space). The spacecraft then stops rotating, turns off the field generator, and the craft is then back in normal space, several light years away from where it started the maneuver.

The mathematical analysis comes in to play when they passengers and crew of one starship find that they have inadvertantly entered one of the branching dimensions and must find their way back to their original dimension. There are numerous references to mathematical models of "cascade theory", Riemann surfaces, curve fitting of statistical and empirical data, geometric intuition, and the many problem inherent in trying to visualize or develop visual representations of mulitple dimensions.

Contributed by Sarah-Marie Belcastro

This is a very fun read, in the tradition of techie space opera. There's a strong female character (how often does that happen?) and a few tidbits (pages 14 and 49) of complex analysis on Riemann surfaces/branch cuts. The main SF thing here is alternate universes, and the branch cuts for the aforementioned Riemann surfaces correspond to the boundaries between these universes.

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Works Similar to Cascade Point
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Planiverse: computer contact with a two-dimensional world by A.K. Dewdney
  2. Factoring Humanity by Robert J. Sawyer
  3. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
  4. Contact by Carl Sagan
  5. The Boy Who Reversed Himself by William Sleator
  6. Diaspora by Greg Egan
  7. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott
  8. The Blind Geometer by Kim Stanley Robinson
  9. Message Found in a Copy of Flatland by Rudy Rucker
  10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Ratings for Cascade Point:
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 (2 votes)
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Literary Quality:
4/5 (2 votes)
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Categories:
GenreScience Fiction,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry,
MediumNovels,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)