a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Life in a Mirror (2003)
Daniel Ryan

This e-book not only contains many explicit references to mathematics, but it also claims to follow the outline of a mathematical text!

Set in 18th century Brittany, the story is ostensibly about royalty and religion, duels and battles. There are references to Newton and his discovery of calculus, of mental computations computed with the aid of the properties of logarithms, and of the combinatorics of certain choices which arise as part of the story. Some of this strikes me as anachronistic. For instance, the logarithm computation seems more likely to have been done by an engineer in the early 20th century than by anyone in 1713. Moreover, much of the language is also anachronistic ("Oh my gawd!" and "Okay").

Still, the most fascinating aspect of this book is the author's claim that the form of the book is based on the now classic mathematical text Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgernstern.

Unfortunately, at this point in time I do not have time to read this book carefully enough to see what is meant by this. (I also have to admit to having never read Theory of Games... either!) However, I hope to find time to look into this aspect of it at a later date. If you can say more, please do write to me with your comments. (The easiest way is to use the link below for entering your "votes" on the quality of this work and include any comments you might have.)

Contributed by Daniel M. Ryan

I have to admit that Dr. Kasman caught me out on something, even if one modernism was put there deliberately. I really should plead artistic freedom with this one, as the modernisms (Americanisms) do tend to make the modern reader relate to the story more easily, but I cannot get around the obvious rejoinder that my skill in Standard English needs polishing up.

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Works Similar to Life in a Mirror
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Shooting the Sun by Max Byrd
  2. Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley
  3. Quicksilver: The Baroque Cycle Volume 1 by Neal Stephenson
  4. Newton's Hooke by David Pinner
  5. Calculus (Newton's Whores) by Carl Djerassi
  6. The Music of the Spheres by Elizabeth Redfern
  7. War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy
  8. Still She Haunts Me by Katie Roiphe
  9. The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
  10. One, True Platonic Heaven: A Scientific Fiction of the Limits of Knowledge by John L. Casti
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GenreHistorical Fiction,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)