a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Weight of Numbers (2006)
Simon Ings

This is an ambitious novel which attempts to be as overwhelming as Pynchon, to deconstruct what it means to be human like Vonnegut and to tie together bits of history like Forrest Gump. For a few readers, it seems to have achieved these goals, but others find that it does not quite "work".

In any case, our interest here is in the mathematical content. But, of course, with so much going on mathematics can only be a small component. The mathematician character, Anthony Burden, works on a paper about mathematics inspired by D'arcy Thompson's mathematical approach to nature, has a brief sexual encounter with Alan Turing, and ponders the use of the Fibonacci sequence to model coastlines(?), but mostly is occupied by the non-mathematical aspects of his life (fathering a child in a London alleyway during a German blitz, living on a kibbutz with his Zionist wife, working for clandestine communist organizations, etc.)

If you like Pynchon, Vonnegut and Gump, you might want to give this novel a try to see whether you like it...but the mathematics alone, (shallow and sparse) is not sufficient to justify reading it.

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(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 Weight of Numbers
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  2. Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
  3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  4. Habitus by James Flint
  5. The Cypher Bureau by Eilidh McGinness
  6. Roten av minus én [The Square Root of Minus One] by Atle Næss
  7. The Idiot by Elif Batuman
  8. Colonel Lágrimas by Carlos Fonseca Suárez
  9. The Blue Door by Tanya Barfield
  10. The Capacity for Infinite Happiness by Alexis von Konigslow
Ratings for The Weight of Numbers:
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:
2/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

GenreHistorical Fiction, Humorous,
MotifWar, Romance, Turing,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)