a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Labyrinth Key (2004)
Howard V. Hendrix
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

In the near future, the US and China engage in a race involving the ultimate quantum computer and quantum cryptography. Along the way, numerous mathematical concepts are cited and sometimes discussed, from Mobius strips and Klein bottles to probability and higher dimensions.

Before reading this book, younger readers may want to look up information about Paul Linebarger, a godson of Sun Yat-sen who was one of the founders of modern psychological warfare. He is best known in science fiction circles as the highly influential, and at the time, totally mysterious, "Cordwainer Smith". His future history, concerning the "Instrumentality of Mankind", is referred to frequently in this novel, but attributed to a lesser known Linebarger pseudonym, "Felix C. Forrest". In the novel, Forrest appears as a large part of the backstory, and he is a very thinly disguised Linebarger. Unfortunately, the writing, plotting, and characters are all extremely cliche. The quantum computation issues are mixed in as part of the plot with no understanding of the mathematics or physics involved.

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Works Similar to The Labyrinth Key
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
  2. Factoring Humanity by Robert J. Sawyer
  3. Diaspora by Greg Egan
  4. Dark as Day by Charles Sheffield
  5. Palimpsest by Howard V. Hendrix
  6. Six Thought Experiments Concerning the Nature of Computation by Rudy Rucker
  7. A Deadly Medley of Smedley by Feargus Gwynplaine MacIntyre
  8. The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  9. River of Gods by Ian McDonald
  10. Schild's Ladder by Greg Egan
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GenreScience Fiction,
MotifMobius Strip/Nonorientability,
TopicComputers/Cryptography, Mathematical Physics,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)