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Mozart on Morphine (1989)
Gregory Benford
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Brian Gothberg

A mathematician nearly loses his life to appendicitis. While sedated in the hospital, he describes the loony stuff that flits through his head, and how it relates to the subjective and personal processes by which a theoretical physicist arrives at useful math. (Interestingly, I recently heard Brian Greene, the physicist/writer, describe basically the same process in a talk on C-SPAN 2's Book TV.)

Althought the character in the story describes himself as a physicist and not a mathematician (we could debate for hours about which would be correct), he discusses mathematics quite explicitly. In particular, he explains why his branch of physics is based on the use of abstract mathematics and not scientific experiments.

BTW: It turns out that the story is supposed to be a non-traditional acceptance speech that the character gives after accepting a prestigious award for his work in theoretical physics.

Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1989.

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Works Similar to Mozart on Morphine
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Timescape by Gregory Benford
  2. Artifact by Gregory Benford
  3. Ripples in the Dirac Sea by Geoffrey A. Landis
  4. Applied Mathematical Theology by Gregory Benford
  5. Nuremberg Joys by Charles Sheffield
  6. Schwarzschild Radius by Connie Willis
  7. Ylem by Eliot Fintushel
  8. Strange Attractors by Charles Soule (author) / Greg Scott (Illustrator)
  9. The Three-Body Problem by Cixim Liu (author) / Ken Liu (translator)
  10. Singleton by Greg Egan
Ratings for Mozart on Morphine:
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:
4/5 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (2 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifMath as Beautiful/Exciting/Useful,
TopicMathematical Physics,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)