MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Children of Dune (1976)
Frank Herbert
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Note: This work of mathematical fiction is recommended by Alex for hardcore fans of science fiction.

This third novel in the "Dune" series (which was also made into a TV miniseries) contains a wonderful (but rather brief and not very significant) bit of fictional mathematics. The following quotation is presented as an excerpt from a lecture concerning the mathematical explanation of religious leader Paul Muad'Dib's ability to see possible futures:

(quoted from Children of Dune)

Only in the realm of mathematics can you understand Muad'Dib's precise view of the future. Thus: first we postulate any number of point-dimensions in space. This is the classic n-fold extended aggregate of n dimensions. With this framework, time as commonly understood becomes an aggregate of one dimensional properties. Applying this to the Muad'Dib phenomenon, we find that we are either confronted by new properties of time or (by reduction through the infinity calculus) we are dealing with separate systems which contain n body properties. For Muad'Dib, we assume the latter. As demonstrated by the reduction, the point dimensions of the n-fold can only have separate existence within different frameworks of time. Separate dimensions of time are thus demonstrated to coexist. This being the inescapable case, Muad'Dib's predictions required that he percieve the n-fold not as extended aggregate but as an operation within a single framework. In effect, he froze his universe into that one framework which was his view of time.

-Palimbasha: Lectures at Sietch Tabr

The book also explains that Palimbasha is a mathematics professor sanctioned for his attempts to explain Muad'Dib's powers mathematically. Other than this, mathematics does not seem to play any significant role in the story. Furthermore, I cannot really make any sense out of the quote...it is just nonsense. But, interestingly, it is nonsense that really sounds like the sorts of things mathematicians say!

Thanks to Eric Heisler for suggesting this addition to the list.

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(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 Children of Dune
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Planiverse: computer contact with a two-dimensional world by A.K. Dewdney
  2. Cascade Point by Timothy Zahn
  3. Contact by Carl Sagan
  4. The Blind Geometer by Kim Stanley Robinson
  5. The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein
  6. Diaspora by Greg Egan
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  8. Round the Moon by Jules Verne
  9. Factoring Humanity by Robert J. Sawyer
  10. The Einstein See-Saw by Miles J. Breuer
Ratings for Children of Dune:
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:
1/5 (1 votes)
..
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)
..

Categories:
GenreScience Fiction,
MotifAcademia,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Fictional Mathematics,
MediumNovels,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)