MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Red Zen (2007)
Jason Earls
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A man travels to another planet in an attemp to resolve a bizarre memory problem in this absurdist science fiction novel. As in his other works, Earls includes tidbits of computational number theory. For instance, the protagonist encounters a magic square whose row sum is 666 and he attempts to memorizes the decimal expansions of transcendental numbers such as 22π+4e considering it part of his Buddhist religion. (Presumably, this is a pun on the mathematical and spiritual meanings of the word "transcendental"!)

It may seem as if these are rather trivial bits of mathematics (not important theorems or useful new definitions). Rather, it is what the author calls "recreational" mathematics. In fact, the book says

(quoted from Red Zen)

Math can be beautiful. But I like it better when it is campy or cheesy. The mathematical concepts and objects a real mathematician would think of as useless or silly are the ones I like best. Later I will give you examples of what I mean by campy math.

Later examples of such campy math is finding primes in the decimal expansion of 1/89 or a square array of digits which spells out "Red Zen" when the 9's are colored differently than the other digits and is used to build a prime number. (In an appendix he promises to build such a "textual prime" to make any picture or phrase that you might want.)

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Works Similar to Red Zen
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Borzag and the Numerical Apocalypse by Jason Earls
  2. Genghis Khan and 888 by Jason Earls
  3. The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
  4. I Sin Every Number by Jason Earls
  5. Mathematicians in Love by Rudy Rucker
  6. 2+2=5 by Rudy Rucker / Terry Bisson
  7. The Secret Number by Igor Teper
  8. Nymphomation by Jeff Noon
  9. Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer
  10. Luck be a Lady by Dean Wesley Smith
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Categories:
GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,
MotifInsanity, Religion,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,
MediumNovels,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)