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.)
A Perfect Equation (The Secret Scientists of London) (2022)
Elizabeth Everett
Miss Letitia Fenley wishes to compete for the prestigious Rosewood Prize for Mathematics. Unfortunately, she is distracted from her research by her role in a secret society of female scientists in Victorian... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-25 08:50:56
Number Stories: Learning Arithmetic Through the Adventures of Ralph and His Schoolmates (1916)
Alhambra G. Deming
A simpler, slightly different book than the one by David Eugene Smith (“Number Stories of Long Ago”). This book, instead of speaking of the history of numbers, goes into a connected string of stories... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-20 09:38:13
The Use of Geometry in the Modern Novel (1956)
Norman Clarke
A slightly humorous short story written as a “how to?” piece. The author asks if a story can be written to reflect a geometrical theorem, “translating this meager framework into a well piece... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-19 22:15:09
Geometric Regional Novel (1969)
Gert Jonke
An odd but charming book which describes a dreamy, strange, very static, grey world nestled in some corner of thought. In measured, clipped tones, the narrator describes the mathematically precise contours... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-19 19:48:12
Klein Bottle (1978)
Cho-Se Hui
This is another short Korean tale, where the author has again tried to give a parallel between a situation in real life and a geometrical object, this time the Klein bottle (also see the author’s “The... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-18 07:12:53
A Matter of Geometry (1915)
Ared White
Pythagoras Theorem (or some algebraic operations like square-roots or mental arithmetic) is a device used sometimes to stand in for mathematical erudition, intellectual thinking and the like. In “A... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-17 22:12:15
Super 30 (2019)
Vikas Bahl (director) / Sanjeev Dutta (writer)
A superb Bollywood movie based on a real life hero, Anand Kumar, who seems so fictional and yet, so very real in the context of a country like India. The very best in human values which appeal to a higher... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-13 21:33:50
Dalrymple’s Equation (1956)
Paul Fairman
A tall tale about an alien “from Arva Majoris [...] a planet in a galaxy beyond the conception of [humanity’s] most brilliant minds.” . He’s taken on the name, “Tennyson Dalrymple” and uses... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-11 17:14:06
Bonnie's Story: A Blonde's Guide to Mathematics (2013)
Janis Hill
Bonnie wakes one morning to find an unusual stranger named Rogan taking pictures of street signs near her home. Despite the apparent implications of being "a blonde", Bonnie is sufficiently well-versed... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-11 08:06:16
Hypatia or The Divine Algebra (2000)
Mac Wellman
Artistically produced off-Broadway play about the famous female mathematician who was tortured to death by Christian monks in the 5th Century. In Wellman's unusual telling, however, Hypatia ends up... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-08 13:51:35
The Mathematical Kid (1940)
Ross Rocklynne
Ross Rocklynne had a specific style in many of his stories. Set up a very non-standard astrophysical situation, and then solve it unconventionally. In “The Mathematical Kid”, he describes a young... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-08 12:45:38
The Gift of Numbers (1958)
Alan Nourse
A mild story about an accounting book-keeper, Avery Mearns, who runs into a stranger called, “The Colonel” at the local bar. “The Colonel had a way with numbers like no other guy around. It was... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-06 15:43:32
Futility (1929)
Sterner St. Paul Meek (S.P. Meek)
There is an old folk story, “The Appointment in Samarra”, in which a man sees Death in a market in Baghdad and flees to Samarra to escape its clutches, only to find that his appointment with Death... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-04 08:10:23
Say Wen (1930)
Ellis Parker Butler
If you have a story’s tagline as... “I assure you that I am not an unduly formal woman, but I consider it decidedly undignified for a dean of a co-educational college to hold a Professor of Higher... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-03 10:25:05
The Girl Who Loved Mathematics (1988)
Elizabeth Smithers
A sad tale of a college girl, Gilberte (not her true name), who has a penchant for mathematics, having inherited from her father “who was was some high official who presumably dealt with estimates... (more)
Last Changed: 2022-01-02 21:51:04
Folk Music Festivals and Mathematics Conferences (2015)
Erik Talvila
The narrator in this work of mathematical fiction attends both a music festival and a math research conference. This allows the author, a math professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, to compare... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-30 19:50:53
Project Flatty (1956)
Irving Cox Jr.
A very, very nice tale of a double-fake, of phantasmical scenes and nightmares which lead one Rex Bannard to question what is real, what is contrived imagination, and whether we are creatures shackled... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-19 15:39:45
The Pythagoras Problem (2019)
Trevor Baxendale
A short story involving the 13th Doctor, a female, and (a drunken) Pythagoras, with his daughter, Myia. The piece deftly uses the idea that certain types of geometric patterns act as magical talismans... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-19 10:54:34
La formule: (A story of fourth dimension) (1996)
Jean Ray
A very short story from the ultramundane realm, relying on the theme that certain types of mathematical knowledge open up portals to higher dimensions. A mathematical physicist, Lenglade, lives up high... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-18 19:15:14
The Equationist (2018)
J. D. Moyer
An odd but mathematically gifted child named Niall understands the people around him by identifying their central "equation". I have put the word in quotes because it seems that what he is really thinking... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-17 16:11:32
Fermat's Legacy (1992)
Ian Randal Strock
A funny little story about the slightly malicious reason why Fermat wrote his famous note about his Last Conjecture in the margin of a book. Should be taken as just a chuckle-worthy piece rather... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-17 14:55:21
I’ll Follow The Sun (2014)
Paul Di~Filippo
An American math student in Canada in 1964 obtains help from his math professor, Chan Davis, to avoid being drafted into the military during the Vietnam War, which had already killed his uncle. The math... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-16 04:37:19
The Whole Mess (2016)
Jack Skillingstead
By solving a mathematical equation brought to him by a young stranger, a math professor allows the squid-like "Masters" to enter our universe, leaving havoc in their wake. The professor finds himself... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-15 18:15:08
Plane and Fancy (1944)
P. Schuyler Miller
A wonderfully written yarn about a boy who envisions a non-Euclidean geometry, and conjures it up in reality to a very surprising effect... Along the way, there are strong shades of a Ramanujan-Hardy... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-15 08:45:04
Euler's Formula (2019)
Neil Hudson
There are certain things in life which strike people as proof of existence of a transcendent power, a mystical presence of something beyond the mundane laws of the sciences. To some, Euler’s equation... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-08 19:29:56
The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am [Jo Fortere Jeg Gar, Jo Mindre Er Jeg] (2009)
Kjersti A Skomsvold
A funny and heartbreaking novel about an old woman with severe social problems. The mathematics seeps in through her (deceased, we realize after a while) husband Niels, commonly known as Epsilon, who... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-08 19:21:31
Roten av minus én [The Square Root of Minus One] (2006)
Atle Næss
There are three different levels of reality in this novel: On the one hand it is the story of Terje Huuse, a Norwegian mathematician undergoing a midlife crisis. That part of the story is presented through... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-06 09:07:18
Hamlet and Pfister Forms - A Tragedy in Four Acts (1992)
Jan Minac
An absurd combination of comedy, advanced mathematics, and Shakespearean tragedy which was performed at the mathematical institute in Oberwolfach, Germany, 1992 and whose script is available at arXiv.org.... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-04 19:27:17
Løvekvinnen [Lion Woman] (2006)
Erik Fosnes Hansen
This Norwegian novel follows the life of a young girl who has a hairy face due to hypertrichosis. According to Tom Louis Lindstrøm (who kindly brought this work of mathematical fiction to my attention)... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-04 16:28:58
Final Integer (2021)
Thomas Reed Willemain
In this short story, a number theorist is obsessed with one number, the date of his own death: It has been said that number theory was once the purest of pure math. But in David’s academic circle,... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-12-04 08:58:10

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)