MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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

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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. The Mathematics of Magic by L. Sprague de Camp / Fletcher Pratt
  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)
..

Categories:
GenreHumorous, Science Fiction, Fantasy,
MotifFuture Prediction through Math,
TopicProbability/Statistics,
MediumShort Stories,

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May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the Amazon.com page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)