a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Elementary number theory and some superstitious numerology underlie this story, which appeared in the November 11, 2009 issue of the online Fantasy Magazine (though I would never describe this story as "fantasy" myself). The story takes the form of an e-mail message from a man named Michael Walker to the child he never met. Read naively, it is a letter explaining how he met the child's mother and why they broke up. However, there is a hidden coded message within it that is more sinister and explains why the e-mail is being used as evidence in a trial.
Walker and his Japanese lover first meet at a rather bizarre, virtual number theory course:
So, a love of math (or at least of numbers) is one thing they have in common.
However, the main character's (apparent) lack of familiarity with Japanese customs and superstitions (such as what it would mean to give a sick, elderly woman four chrysanthemums) lead to the couple's divorce before the birth. So, presumably, the writer of the e-mail never gets to meet the child to whom he is writing.
The story mentions some of the usual popular number theory jargon, like amicable numbers and people able to recite many digits of π, as well as some I have not heard about before (like the vampire numbers mentioned in the quote above). There is also a relatively nice bit about generating random numbers.
According to an interview with the author, this story was partially inspired by one of my favorite works of mathematical fiction:
"Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life is one of my all-time favorite stories. It examines how learning an alien language could affect your perception of time. I wanted to write a story dealing with how interacting with another culture could affect your perception of numbers."
|More information about this work can be found at www.fantasy-magazine.com.|
|(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.)|
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)