MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Lines of Longitude (1997)
Stephen Baxter
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Contributed by Vijay Fafat

The story tries to delve into Hawking's idea of imaginary time - how it may occur that at the beginning of the universe, time and space were ambiguously defined, smeared out into each other as a flattened patch of space-time instead of a sharp cusp of the big bang. Some geometrical explanation of how any point on the surface of a sphere can be considered a pole with radiating longitudinal lines (lines of great circle) follows and tied into the geometrical explanation of the Hawking-Hartle scheme (related to the removal of the big bang singularity in a cosmological model incorporating imaginary time). But frankly, I was at a loss to understand the setting of the story. Why were there UFOs figuring in? How did some crazed mind of an elderly student end up at a self-created pole of space-time big bang? Why did he find some girl there (and was this girl his teacher, who also ends up at that pole?)? And in general, why was anything happening the way it was described? It sounds all very mystical, which is fine by me since it's a Baxter. But not particularly satisfying.

Originally in "Dark of the Night" ed. Stephen Jones, 1997.
Also available in "Phase Space".

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Works Similar to Lines of Longitude
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Approaching Perimelasma by Geoffrey A. Landis
  2. Schwarzschild Radius by Connie Willis
  3. The Cube Root of Conquest by Rog Phillips
  4. The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke / Stephen Baxter
  5. Planck Zero by Stephen Baxter
  6. Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter
  7. The Logic Pool by Stephen Baxter
  8. Dante Dreams by Stephen Baxter
  9. Touching Centauri by Stephen Baxter
  10. Gödel's Sunflowers by Stephen Baxter
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Categories:
GenreScience Fiction,
Motif
TopicMathematical Physics, Real Mathematics,
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)