MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The God Equation (2007)
Michael A.R. Co
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The angel Azrael is ordered to kill a Philippine mathematician who is using the Internet to create a mathematical proof of the existence of God.

In this story, Azrael is presented as a hitman who kills people on orders from God. Some of his more famous assassinations (so it is implied) are JFK and the Pontifical Swiss Guard commander murdered in 1998. (Now there's a conspiracy theory I have not heard before!) This time his "mark" is a twenty-four year old mathematician on a living on a yacht named after Leonhard Euler. The mathematics in the story is actually pretty good. There are a few non-sequiturs and (of course, since this is fiction and nobody is claiming that the "proof" would really work) some leaps of logic, but unlike many authors of mathematical fiction, I suspect that Co actually knows what he is talking about.

(quoted from The God Equation)

"A circle is often used as a metaphor for boundaries and enclosures, and indeed, pi was used as shorthand for 'periphery.' With all transcendental numbers, one can't help suspect that there might be a hidden message coded somewhere in the sequence. Like what Carl Sagan suggested in the last chapter of Contact."

"You think there's a steganographic message? Perhaps from God?"

"Well, not the kind of message that you're probably thinking. You can find any sequence of numbers in pi if you look hard enough, even your telephone number. Look here." He types '88888888' in his laptop, and he shows me that his pi program found the sequence appearing at the 46,663,520th decimal place. "The message is more subtle. In effect it's saying, 'There is a pattern somewhere, but you'll just have to look harder.' So it's no surprise that work continues on unlocking the secrets of pi. Funny how the most complex structures can derive from the simplest things. Human beings from single cells, the entire universe from a singularity. Seems a convincing argument against entropy."

He points to the mainsail. "See that pattern printed on the sail's edge?"

I notice a colorful, paisley-like design, swirling toward the center.

"It's called 'Sea Horse Valley' and I generated the image using the simple function z equals z-squared plus c."

"The Mandelbrot set," I say, pronouncing the name in the German-style, not French.

"A microscopic part of it. I sometimes refer to the Lionheart Oil as the Mandel-boat. The entire fractal image was discovered only in the 70's after the introduction of computers. Breathtaking, isn't it? It goes on forever, exhibiting self-symmetry as you increase the magnification. Analogous to the revolutions of the planets or the movement of atomic particles. Check this out." He bares his left forearm. A well-done approximation of the M-set was tattooed using several inks from elbow to wrist, like a Rorschach blob, the disk and cardioid appearing like the head and thorax of a large insect. "Like it? I did it myself."

This story won the 1st Gregorio Brillantes Award in 2006 and was published in the anthology of speculative fiction by Philippine authors Expeditions (2007). It is available online at philippinespeculativefiction.com

More information about this work can be found at philippinespeculativefiction.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.)

Works Similar to The God Equation
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. A Proof of God by Colin Adams
  2. The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
  3. Pieces of Pi by David Bartell
  4. Math Takes a Holiday by Paul Di Filippo
  5. Goliijo by Alex Rose
  6. Numbercruncher by Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
  7. Fractal Mode by Piers Anthony
  8. The Fairytale of the Completely Symmetrical Butterfly by Dietmar Dath
  9. Perelman's Song by Tina Chang
  10. An Angel of Obedience by John Giessmann
Ratings for The God Equation:
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)
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Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)
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Categories:
GenreFantasy,
MotifCool/Heroic Mathematicians, Proving Theorems, Religion,
TopicComputers/Cryptography, Fictional Mathematics, Chaos/Fractals,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)