a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

A Very Good Year (1984)
Jack C. Haldeman (II)

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A very short fantasy-like story about Statistics. A senior statistician for Dept of Acccident Prevention describes how the law of averages appears to have failed when applied to mortality rates. In particular, Death takes a holiday for an entire year, causing all statistical models of prediction to fail. The next year, it swings back with vengeance, killing off most of the people on the planet. A very nice description of the variety of variables that have to be included in the mathematical models of estimation (of expected number of fatalities over a New Year weekend). It can be seen as a very light version of Coates's story, "The Law". Not elaborate, just a quick dollop of mathematical fancy.

Published in Analog December 1984.

(Thanks to James Landau for pointing out the family connection between this author and his brother Joe Haldeman, also listed as an author in this database.)

(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 A Very Good Year
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Devil You Don't by Keith Laumer
  2. Probability Storm by Julian Reid
  3. The Law by Robert M. Coates
  4. The Gigantic Fluctuation by Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
  5. Off Day! by Al Feldstein (writer) / Jack Kamen (artist)
  6. Numbercruncher by Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
  7. Jack and the Aktuals, or, Physical Applications of Transfinite Set Theory by Rudy Rucker
  8. Monday Begins on Saturday by Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
  9. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
  10. The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells (Episode: The Truth about Pyecraft) by Chris Harrald (Script) / Clive Exton (Script) / Herbert George Wells (story)
Ratings for A Very Good Year:
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 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

GenreHumorous, Science Fiction, Fantasy,
MotifFuture Prediction through Math,
MediumShort Stories,

Home All New Browse Search About

Your Help Needed: Some site visitors remember reading works of mathematical fiction that neither they nor I can identify. It is time to crowdsource this problem and ask for your help! You would help a neighbor find a missing pet...can't you also help a fellow site visitor find some missing works of mathematical fiction? Please take a look and let us know if you have seen these missing stories anywhere!.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)