a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Security (1953)
Poul Anderson
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

A top secret project uses some mathematical physics to create a new material. As the title makes clear, the secrecy (and what the head of the project is willing to do to achieve it) is really the point of the story. (Perhaps it is best understood in the context of the Cold War.) However, the little bit of mathematics that does appear is of such high quality for the time period that I consider this a noteworthy bit of mathematical fiction. Here are a couple of quotes to give you an idea:

(quoted from Security)

He supposed some geological freak had formed the mineral. Venus was a strange planet anyway. But that didn't matter. The important thing now was to get to know this process. He went off into a happy mist of quantum mechanics, oscillation theory, and periodic functions of a complex variable.

(quoted from Security)

In going through Sophoulis' equations, Lancaster found what he believed was the flaw that was blocking progress. The man had used a simplified quantum mechanics without correction for relativistic effects. That made for neater mathematics but overlooked certain space-time aspects of the psi function. The error was excusable, for Sophoulis had not been familiar with the Belloni matrix, a mathematical tool that brought order into what was otherwise incomprehensible chaos. Belloni's work was still classified information, being too useful, in the design of new alloys, for general consumption. Lancaster went happily to work correcting the equations. But when he was finished, he realized that he had no business showing his results without proper clearance.

Originally published in Space Science Fiction (February 1953)

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to Security
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Brain Wave by Poul Anderson
  2. Tau Zero by Poul Anderson
  3. A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions by Kim Stanley Robinson
  4. Three Cornered Wheel by Poul Anderson
  5. The Adventure of the Russian Grave by William Barton / Michael Capobianco
  6. The Hollow Man by Dan Simmons
  7. PreVision by John Pierce
  8. The Lure by Bill Napier
  9. Finity by John Barnes
  10. The Curve of the Snowflake by William Grey Walter
Ratings for Security:
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:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
TopicMathematical Physics,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)