MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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(Note: This is not the entire list of works of Mathematical Fiction. To see the entire list, click here.)
The Extraordinary Hotel or the Thousand and First Journey of Ion the Quiet (1968)
Highly Rated!
Naum Ya. Vilenkin
The author toys with the counter-intuitive nature of the countably-infinite by postulating the existence of an intergalactic hotel with rooms indexed by the positive integers. For instance, the narrator... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-08-23 10:07:36
The Capacity for Infinite Happiness (2015)
Alexis von Konigslow
A math grad student trying to start her thesis on graph theory discovers some of her family's secrets when visiting their Jewish resort in Canada. Graph theory involves the study of vertices (points... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-08-21 08:26:26
The Unwilling Professor (1954)
Arthur Porges
Two college students who are failing their math class kidnap an alien they encounter and force it to do homework for everyone in their fraternity. There are some cute mathematical passages. For example,... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-08-13 15:13:08
Seven Wonders (2014)
Ben Mezrich
The hero of this conspiracy theory adventure has -- or had -- a twin brother who was an anti-social, OCD math genius precisely following the standard literary stereotype. However, he was murdered after... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-08-13 14:17:55
Racconti Matematici (2006)
Claudio Bartocci (Editor)
This Italian collection of mathematical stories includes some short stories that appear elsewhere in this database (often translated into Italian) and some non-fictional essays that would not be appropriate... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-08-11 17:12:34
Il Bimbo e le Meraviglie Matematiche [The Child and the Wonder of Mathematics] (1993)
Letterio Gatto
Mathematician Letterio Gatto at Politecnico di Torino wrote these short stories about a child who visits working men in their shops to discuss mathematical ideas. The savvy reader will recognize the men... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-08-11 15:28:52
The Cipher (2015)
John C. Ford
As he turns 18, the son of the billionaire who owns the patent on public-key encryption finds himself in several complicated situations. There is a love triangle involving both his long-time girlfriend... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-08-10 12:40:19
Com os Meus Olhos de Cão [With My Dog Eyes] (1986)
Hilda Hilst
An aphasic Brazillian mathematics professor narrates his own decline into insanity. Hilda Hilst was a Brazillian author whose works often addressed the topic of insanity (perhaps because both of her parents... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-07-31 14:47:07
Break Your Heart (2015)
Rhonda Helms
The cultural diversity in this romance novel about the affair between an African-American math major and her Japanese cryptography professor is a pleasant surprise, but that is just about the only positive thing I can think to say. It does not seem to have anything interesting to say about either mathematics or academia. They are just the backdrop for a forbidden erotic encounter. (more)
Last Changed: 2015-07-31 14:26:25
Bonita Avenue (2010)
Peter Buwalda
This widely acclaimed and popular Dutch novel concerns a mathematician who is a sort of intellectual public figure that the United States does not seem to have. After winning the Fields Medal for his... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-07-29 11:15:53
The Outer Limits (Episode: Behold, Eck!) (1964)
John Mantley (screenplay) / William R. Cox (story)
In this episode of the classic science fiction series Outer Limits, a 2-dimensional being trapped in our world is aided by Dr. Stone, an engineer described as being an expert in "optical geometry" and... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-07-11 22:33:14
Dialógusok a matematikáról [Dialogues on Mathematics] (1965)
Alfréd Rényi
Three Socratic dialogues by the Hungarian mathematician Alfréd Rényi that address mathematical topics such as Platonism and the differences between pure and applied math. A Socratic dialogue is not... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-07-09 13:43:42
Night of the Frightening Fractions (2015)
Robert Black
In this sequel to Night of the Paranormal Patterns, teenager Lennie Miller continues to solve mathematical problems to save her town from ghosts and zombies. I haven't read this young adult novel. I hope to get a chance to do so someday and will post more information here if I do. Or, if you have read it, please write to let me know what you thought of it, and I'll post your review here! (more)
Last Changed: 2015-06-28 23:49:42
Night of the Paranormal Patterns (2014)
Robert Black
A young adult novel that uses the fantasy adventure genre to introduce pre-algebra concepts. The protagonist, a seventh grader named Lennie, has been chosen as the "pattern finder" for werewolves, vampires... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-06-28 23:44:07
Enigma: La strana vita di Alan Turing (2012)
Tuono Pettinato / Francesca Riccioni
The life of mathematician Alan Turing, as an Italian comic book. (more)
Last Changed: 2015-06-13 17:28:51
The Math Olympian (2015)
Richard Hoshino
A novel about a girl hoping to be on the Canadian team to the International Mathematical Olypmiad written by someone who should know what it is like. (FYI The author earned a silver medal as part of the... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-06-08 16:23:58
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage (2015)
Sydney Padua
This graphic novel starts out as a basically realistic fictionalized biography of the 19th century mathematicians Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, even if it is a biography with a snarky sense of humor.... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-06-08 12:18:37
Ultima lezione a Gottinga [Last lecture at Göttingen] (2009)
Davide Osenda
This beautifully illustrated comic book presents a professor's last lecture to a (nearly) empty auditorium as the Nazi's begin to gather the city's Jews outside. It is perhaps a stretch to call this "fiction";... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-06-08 11:12:30
Nullstellen (1999)
Dietmar Dath
Two scientists develop a mathematical method of literary analysis based on the use of an "author function". The zeroes of this function (called Nullstellen in German, as in Hilbert's famous (more)
Last Changed: 2015-05-22 05:11:14
Counting the Shapes (2001)
Yoon Ha Lee
How many shapes of pain are there? Are any topologically equivalent? And is one of them death? This is a fantasy story in which magic is achieved through mathematics, and hard work. For example, "Do... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-05-13 15:03:47
The Mathematics of Magic Carpets (2013)
Sara Maitland
A story that brings the mathematician Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, inventor of what we call "algebra", to life. He talks to his daughter about his goals of adding something new to mathematics... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-05-13 13:03:33
Rithmatic (2015)
B.J. Novak
A school principal secretly proposes to his students that they all just agree not to bother with math in school: “Now do I wish you all knew math? Were great at math? Were f---ing mathematicians?... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-05-13 12:40:36
Elegantly, In the Least Number of Steps (2012)
Monica McFawn
A young man named Aaron who works at a company that releases butterflies at events is attacked and seriously wounded right after he finally finds a proof of the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture. That... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-05-13 12:28:49
By a Fluke (1955)
Arthur Porges
A liver fluke describes its life (from hatching from an egg to its final moments) to an alien who is recording it. As it turns out, these trematatode parasites are not as dumb as we think. In fact, they... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-05-12 17:33:09
All the Light We Cannot See (2014)
Anthony Doerr
Doerr's Pulitzer Prize winning novel follows two children in World War II, a blind French girl hiding with her father and a valuable jewel from the museum where he works and an orphaned German boy. When... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-05-12 13:32:19
Problem Child (1964)
Arthur Porges
By working ceaselessly on proving a new theorem, a successful math professor tries to avoid thinking about the fact that he has lost his wife who died in childbirth and about Paul, their "vegetable" of... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-05-10 19:30:19
The Martian (2014)
Andy Weir
An astronaut is stranded alone on Mars and must figure out how to survive until he can be rescued. My wife and I both loved this "hard SF" novel (soon to be a movie). But, we disagreed about whether... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-05-08 13:44:00
A Calculated Life (2013)
Anne Charnock
This novel is about a brilliant mathematical modeler who works for big business finding correlations (such as that corporate reports tend to use nautical terminology when they are in trouble, even if they... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-04-29 09:51:24
Le larmes de saint Laurent (Wonder) (2010)
Dominique Fortier
The three separate stories that comprise this book are tied together by common themes of romance, death and volcanism. It is because of the second story, entitled "Harmony of the Spheres", that I am including... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-04-27 10:41:06
Self-Reference ENGINE (2007)
Toh EnJoe
As of 2015, the work of fiction which made physicist Toh EnJoe a famous author in Japan is finally available in English translation. The separate pieces are not quite short stories, and the whole is not... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-04-26 20:19:12

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Your Help Needed: Some site visitors remember reading works of mathematical fiction that neither they nor I can identify. It is time to crowdsource this problem and ask for your help! You would help a neighbor find a missing pet...can't you also help a fellow site visitor find some missing works of mathematical fiction? Please take a look and let us know if you have seen these missing stories anywhere!.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)