a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

Drop (2008)
Lisa Papademitriou

A mathematically talented high school student uses what appears to be psychic powers to beat the casinos in this novel for young adults. However, with the help of a math professor she begins to realize that her power lies not in precognition but in probability, and that it would apply to more than just gambling:

(quoted from Drop)

Professor Watkins picked up after the second ring. "Jerrica, darling! What a delight to see you on my caller ID."

Jerrica smiled at the sound of his clipped voice, the familiar dry humor. "Hello, Professor."

"Now, my dear, please tell me that you are calling with a fascinating mathematical problem because I've had the most dreadfully dull day."

Jerrica laughed. "Well, actually -- I am."

"How wonderful!"

"I think," Jerrica amended. Quickly, Jerica explained about the cards, about her predictions. "Do you think it's possible that there is a -- pattern? To the numbers?"

"A pattern? No."

Jerrica felt a flash of disappointment. But the professor added, "Jerrica, I do believe that there may be a formula -- or perhaps a series of formulas -- that would help us understand probability better than we do now. In fact, there was a set of principles I was working on in my younger days. "She heard the sound of rustling paper at the other end, a friendly static crackle that told her the professor was searching through the piles on his overloaded desk. "I didn't get very far with it, but I could show you what I've got --"

"And you think the principles are showing up in the cards?"

"I think you might be intuiting them, yes. That happens, you see. We have a sense that something is happening, then we have a sense of why it happens, and then we find the numbers to express it. Think about savants -- no one understands how their minds work. They make incredibly complex mathematical calculations without ever having been taught formulas -- they simply feel their way through the numbers."

"But why would I be able to predict cards?" Jerrica asked.

"My dear, I don't think that you are predicting cards." The professor's voice was gentler than usual. "I think you're calculating odds and coming up with outcomes. After all, how do you think probability was discovered? It's all inspired by questions about gambling. In the seventeenth century the Cevalier de Mere ... asked the brilliant French mathematician Blaise Pascal to answer the question. And he did."

"Amazing," Jerrica said. "Yes." Professor Watkin's voice was slow and thoughtful. "Of course, shortly thereafter Pascal went completely insane," he added cheerfully.

Again with the supposed link between insanity and mathematics that fiction authors seem to love! Arrgh!!

Anyway, I think this passage tells a lot about the mathematical content of this book. It is not terribly well written, though provoking or deep, but it is not a terrible premise and the book may be appealing to some high school readers (and may even help to interest some readers in mathematics.)

Buy this work of mathematical fiction and read reviews at logo
(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 Drop
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
  2. Teen Patti by Leena Yadav (Director)
  3. 21 by Robert Luketic (Director)
  4. Improbable by Adam Fawer
  5. The Grand Wheel by Barrington J. Bayley
  6. The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
  7. Sophie Simon Solves them All by Lisa Graff
  8. Risqueman by Mike Wood
  9. Geek Abroad by Piper Banks
  10. Summer Wars by Mamoru Hosoda (Director)
Ratings for Drop:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction, Children's Literature,
MotifFuture Prediction through Math,

Home All New Browse Search About

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)