a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|"The Laundry" is a British spy organization which is responsible for suppressing certain dangerous math research. The occult implications of mathematics became clear with Alan Turing's paper "Phase Conjugate Grammars for Extra-dimensional Summoning." In Turing's day, it was not a big deal, but now with computers everywhere it is just too easy for people to accidentally call upon other dimensional beings, making their job very difficult.
Of course, even though there was a real Alan Turing, he did not do any work on "extra-dimensional summoning". But this novella (which only takes up half the book, and was originally published as a series in Spectrum in 2001) does a great job of making it seem real, and quite funny as well. Fans of H.P. Lovecraft are likely to enjoy this book, but it is actually closer to hard SF than it is to straight horror.
The plot involves the notion that the Nazis were heavily involved in the use of this occult mathematics for the purpose of summoning "demons"...and that they actually did so in a "nearby" alternate universe. Some of the descriptions are a bit on the disgusting side, so I would definitely not recommend this book for children. But, as long as you can handle some disgusting stuff and keep in mind that its all just made up, its a rather fun ride!
The mathematical references are frequent and explicit. For instance
It is these "Dho-Nha geometry curves" which allow beings to be summoned forth. Later, the mathematics is "explained" a bit more as we are witnessing a controlled summoning during a class for staff at the Laundry:
More than half of the published book focuses on this very mathematical plotline, and then it switches at the end to a different story (on the quantum mechanics of gorgonism!)
Well, the sequel called "The Jennifer Morgue" came out in 2007. Unfortunately, it is not very mathematical. There is a paragraph that mentions the mathematical role of "The Laundry"...but then goes on to explain that there is an equivalence between computer science and mathematics. Though that is not a completely false claim, I do not support it to the extent that I believe this book is mathematical fiction! The book has a similar feel to its predecessor, but in place of math there is computer stuff (not theoretical, but rather explicit references to popular operating systems, USB connections, Bluetooth, etc.) and a lot about James Bond! If you enjoyed The Atrocity Archive you may well also enjoy Jennifer Morgue, but don't read it (as I did) expecting to see any math.
|Buy this work of mathematical fiction and read reviews at amazon.com.|
|(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.)|
May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the Amazon.com page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)