a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|A retired insurance adjuster and a math professor who was fired for telling his students that there are "holes" in the number line pass the time by trying to break a world record for counting. To achieve this they interface the insurance adjuster's brain to the professor's computer. Not only do they break the record, at least momentarily, but they get a chance to address the professor's idea that some whole numbers simply don't exist.
It is interesting to me how this story so completely blends the styles of Rucker and Bisson that I cannot identify whose writing it more closely resembles. And, the characterizations are somewhat entertaining. However, the story seems like a drawn out joke and I did not find the punchline (given away in the title) was sufficiently funny for the buildup. Perhaps I am expecting too much from such well known authors. The story certainly qualifies as "pleasant nonsense". So, if that's all you're looking for then this story is for you.
According to the notes Rucker wrote about this story in Mad Professor, the inspiration was graffiti which read "2+2=5" and an attempt to justify this claim. Actually, it is a pretty standard one-liner on buttons and t-shirts worn by math nerds. The whole joke often goes "2+2=5...for large values of 2."
This story was first published in Interzone #205 (July-August 2006) and is reprinted in Rucker's collection Mad Professor.
Note Added October 2012: The author has written to let me know that many (all?) of his short stories are now available for free at his Website!
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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.)|
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)