MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Inflexible Logic (1940)
Russell Maloney
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There is a famous example of probability which (in one of its many forms) states that six chimpanzees randomly typing at six typewriters would eventually reproduce all of the books in the British museum. In this story, six chimps begin doing exactly that -- without producing any errors or gibberish. The mathematician feels obligated to be a vigilante and defend the laws of probability (which he says take everything into account...including his own actions) by killing the apes before they get too far.
Reprinted in Fantasia Mathematica.

Contributed by Joseph Blanc

Maloney uses no explicit math but he understands far better than engineers at NASA that the improbable will eventually occur. I first read this as a teen-ager and still pick it up now, decades later.

Contributed by Anonymous

As a card-carrying cynic, I really appreciated this story. The fact that I read it when I was still at the impressionable point in my life probably affected my weltanschaung (i.e. scarred me for life!). Great story, well written; I especially liked the end as the last monkey starts typing the opening to "Uncle Tom's Cabin" as he dies.

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Works Similar to Inflexible Logic
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Law by Robert M. Coates
  2. The Gigantic Fluctuation by Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
  3. Been a long, long time by R.A. Lafferty
  4. Misfit by Robert A. Heinlein
  5. The Cube Root of Conquest by Rog Phillips
  6. Vault of the Beast by Alfred Elton van Vogt
  7. What Dead Men Tell by Theodore Sturgeon
  8. The Fourth-Dimensional Demonstrator by Murray Leinster
  9. The Ethical Equations by Murray Leinster
  10. The Non-Statistical Man by Raymond F. Jones
Ratings for Inflexible Logic:
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:
2.67/5 (6 votes)
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Literary Quality:
3.17/5 (6 votes)
..

Categories:
GenreScience Fiction,
MotifEvil mathematicians, Insanity,
TopicProbability/Statistics,
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)