MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Skylark of Valeron (1934)
E. E. Doc Smith
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Contributed by Sarah-Marie Belcastro

At first I was completely confused while reading this novel, until I read it through my pulp-fiction-of-the-thirties lens. Then it became fun and hilarious. Scientists are unemotional and ruthless; statements of unlikely grandeur are made regularly. There's plenty of math in here (though only in the first 120 pages of the book and the last five), mainly having to do with a fourth spacial dimension, and it's not quite clear how correct or how wrong it is. The characters make conjectures, find more evidence, correct themselves, and re-conjecture. Combing through that maze carefully might be an interesting student project.

Contributed by Ronnie

I read E.E. Doc Smith often. He makes me want to understand more of where the he was drawing his mathematical inspiration and creativity from. As this author wrote from the eary 1920's to 1965, it seems obvious he should have only drawn on what was known during that time. Smith breaks this rule. His literary ideas and models seem to be from a source like notheing else I have read about or experienced in any modern art form. The closest approach I have been able to come to make sense out of what I feel about Smith's work and what it means to me is as follows. "What If" 80+% (or greater)of what he "imagined" actually happened. Oh, I grant you that if true, it would make the universe a pretty wild place but of all the science fiction I have read, this work comes the closest to making me believe (on faith) this was possible. Ronnie Williams

Contributed by Robert W. Franson

This novel was first serialized in Astounding, 1934-1935.

Contributed by John Hurst

It is sometimes difficult to talk about E. E Smiths books, because he re-edited them for re-publishing in the 50's-60's. The differences are not enormous, but he definitely tried to update the science involved, to a great extent. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, but if you have an original copy of one book, and an updated version of the next in sequence, it can be a bit jarring.

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Works Similar to Skylark of Valeron
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Aleph Sub One by Margaret St. Clair
  2. The Cube Root of Conquest by Rog Phillips
  3. Technical Error by Arthur C. Clarke
  4. The Gostak and the Doshes by Miles J. Breuer (M.D.)
  5. The Fifth-Dimension Catapult by Murray Leinster
  6. The Living Equation by Nathan Schachner
  7. Left or Right by Martin Gardner
  8. The Plattner Story by Herbert George Wells
  9. And He Built a Crooked House by Robert A. Heinlein
  10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Ratings for Skylark of Valeron:
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 (4 votes)
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Literary Quality:
3.25/5 (4 votes)
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Categories:
GenreScience Fiction,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions,
Topic
Medium

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)