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.)
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
Invisible (2014)
James Patterson / David Ellis
The (somewhat unlikeable) protagonist of this thriller is an FBI agent who loved numbers as a little girl and still prefers statistical analysis of data to time spent with other people. Combining this anti-social behavior with an obsessive desire to find a pattern among a huge number of unsolved murders leads her to begin her own investigation. (more)
Last Changed: 2015-03-27 20:29:52
Domaine [Domain] (2009)
Patric Chiha (screenplay and director)
This subtle, slow and depressing French film concerns the relationship between a homosexual teenager and his alcoholic aunt. She is a math professor whose research is connected to Gödel's Theorem, and... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-03-06 11:54:11
Finity (1999)
John Barnes
A madcap science fiction adventure involving much bouncing between alternate realities, with vague references to quantum physics and mathematics. The narrator is an astronomer who has developed a mathematical... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-02-28 14:30:18
The Blue Door (2006)
Tanya Barfield
A successful African-American mathematics professor who has tried to ignore racism and its implications for his life is visited by the memories of three dead relatives during a sleepless night in this... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-02-22 11:46:23
The Zero Theorem (2013)
Pat Rushin (screenplay) / Terry Gilliam (director)
Qohen Leth corrects people who call him a number cruncher: he's an entity cruncher. Even though he is very good at his job, processing data in the office at his company's famous cube-based computer terminals,... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-02-01 09:16:22
The Trachtenberg Speed System (2014)
Buzz Mauro
Realizing that he is likely to die there, Jakow Trachtenberg fantasizes that the method of mental computation that he has created while at a Nazi concentration camp will live on beyond him. A young guard... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-01-28 13:23:55
The Arrows of Time [Orthogonal Book Three] (2014)
Greg Egan
Egan's "Orthogonal Trilogy" concludes with the final part of the journey of the Peerless and its crew of scientists, mathematicians and engineers hoping to find a way to save their homeworld from destruction.... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-01-22 10:36:53
The Eternal Flame [Orthogonal Book Two] (2012)
Greg Egan
This second novel in Egan's "Orthogonal Trilogy" continues to follow the scientific and mathematical discoveries of creatures on a space ship hoping to find a way to save their home world. That plot and... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-01-22 09:51:43
The Calculus of Love (2011)
Dan Clifton (Writer and Director)
A professor who is obsessed with proving Goldbach's Conjecture challenges a class of graduate students to make any progress on it. But, is he truly motivated by a love of pure mathematics and its search... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-01-07 13:55:53
The Imitation Game (2014)
Morten Tyldum (director) / Graham Moore (screenplay)
This film about Alan Turing and his role in breaking the Nazi enigma code has been a critical and financial success. It has won numerous awards and brought huge crowds of people to see a movie about a... (more)
Last Changed: 2015-01-06 19:37:10
Coincidence (2013)
J.W. Ironmonger
This book begins with the discovery of a three-year old girl named Azalea, alone at a seaside fairground and goes on to show us that her life is filled with surprising coincidences. When she grows up... (more)
Last Changed: 2014-12-29 16:04:57
An Elegant Solution (2013)
Paul Robertson
A fictionalized account of the life of Leonhard Euler, focusing on his relationship with the Bernoullis and told from the perspective of Christian theology. The novel also takes on aspects of a murder... (more)
Last Changed: 2014-12-29 10:54:56
Coffee, Love and Matrix Algebra (2014)
Gary Ernest Davis
This novel follows a year in the life of Jeffrey Albacete, a mathematics professor at a Rhode Island University, who is best known as the author of a textbook on matrix algebra. Although I think it... (more)
Last Changed: 2014-12-15 13:46:30
The Mummy and Miss Nitocris: A Phantasy of the Fourth Dimension (1906)
George Griffith
In his presentation entitled "An Examination of Some Supposed Mathematical Impossibilities" before the Royal Society, Professor Marmion demonstrates that he can do three geometric constructions that mathematicians... (more)
Last Changed: 2014-12-13 17:30:35
The Mathematician's Shiva (2014)
Stuart Rojstaczer
When Rachela Karnokovich dies, her family's attempt to conduct the Jewish mourning ritual of sitting shiva is disturbed by the many strangers who descend on her Madison, WI home. Although she never won... (more)
Last Changed: 2014-12-13 15:00:46
Zombies and Calculus (2014)
Colin Adams
The story opens with a math professor teaching his class on a seemingly ordinary day when a student who has arrived late turns out to be the first of a wave of flesh eating zombies who are running amok... (more)
Last Changed: 2014-12-01 14:02:15
Night and Day (1919)
Virginia Woolf
The protagonist, Katherine Hilbery, is a young woman who (like the author) grows up in a "literary" family; her "job" is to help her mother both in writing a biography of her grandfather, a famous... (more)
Last Changed: 2014-12-01 12:44:53
Don Juan oder die Liebe zur Geometrie (1953)
Max Frisch
In this German play, sometimes presented in English translation as "Don Juan or the Love of Geometry", the famous lover explains to the audience that the other authors who have written about him have gotten it all wrong; it is mathematics and not women that he truly loves. Thanks to Thorben Brunschütte for bringing this work of mathematical fiction to my attention. (more)
Last Changed: 2014-11-11 20:13:43

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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)