MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Round the Moon (1870)
Jules Verne
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)
Highly Rated!

This early science fiction novel about space travel (published originally in French, of course) contains two chapters with explicit (and very nice) mathematical content.

In Chapter 4 (A Little Algebra) the characters discuss the computations necessary for determining the initial speed necessary to complete their journey...and discover that the official computation was incorrect! It is a nice demonstration of the power and usefulness of mathematics. There is also mention of the non-integrabilty of the three body problem, the relationship between integral and differential calculus, and (at least a hint) of the fact that the body of mathematical knowledge is still growing.

Then, in Chapter 15 (Hyperbola or Parabola) , a discussion of the difference between these two geometric figures grows out of questions concerning their trajectory. The descriptions in terms of conic sections are very nice, as are the reactions of their "mathematically challenged" crew member.

Much thanks to Michel Lasvergnas for finding this work of mathematical fiction.

The book is available online (in both English and the original French) at many Websites. Click on the links above for one example.

Note that Verne wrote many other stories involving mathematics. See Topsy-Turvy for a listing of several others.

Contributed by Tina Chang

Personally I loved the part where they described how things which are disposed of outside a spacecraft just continue alongside it. I really enjoyed this book when I was a kid.

More information about this work can be found at www.gutenberg.org.
(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 Round the Moon
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan Poe
  2. Topsy-turvy (Sans Dessus Dessous) by Jules Verne
  3. The Tachypomp by Edward Page Mitchell
  4. A Slight Miscalculation by Ben Bova
  5. Somnium by Johannes Kepler
  6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  7. War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy
  8. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
  9. Micromegas by Fran├žois Marie Arouet de Voltaire
  10. Funes el Memorioso [Funes, His Memory] by Jorge Luis Borges
Ratings for Round the Moon:
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:
4.33/5 (3 votes)
..

Categories:
GenreScience Fiction,
MotifMath as Beautiful/Exciting/Useful,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Algebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Analysis/Calculus/Differential,
MediumNovels, Available Free Online,

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Your Help Needed: Some site visitors remember reading works of mathematical fiction that neither they nor I can identify. It is time to crowdsource this problem and ask for your help! You would help a neighbor find a missing pet...can't you also help a fellow site visitor find some missing works of mathematical fiction? Please take a look and let us know if you have seen these missing stories anywhere!.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)