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.)
Ungal En Enna [When a wanderer meets a pilgrim] (2017)
Ramprasath
When Ajay discovers that his wife is having an affair with his friend, he receives advice from a stranger who has a mathematical theory of romantic success. The mathematician character, whose name is... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-12-11 09:42:52
The Idiot (2017)
Elif Batuman
A farce about a Turkish-American Harvard freshman. As she is trying to figure out who she is and what academia is about, she meets an older math major with whom she develops both a romantic and intellectual... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-12-10 21:52:22
An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors: Book One in the Risen Kingdoms (2017)
Curtis Craddock
Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs, whose life and position are endangered by her birth defect and lack of magical abilities, secretly conducts math research that she publishes under a pseudonym. The mathematical... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-12-06 12:23:34
Colonel Lágrimas (2016)
Carlos Fonseca Suárez
This novel is loosely based on the life of Alexander Grothendieck and is "creatively" constructed, like the writings of the Oulipo group or Borges. The Costa Rican/Puerto Rican author focuses much of his attention on Latin America and war, but mathematics itself and eccentricities (Grothendieck was eccentric!) also are major themes. The English version was translated by Megan McDowell. (more)
Last Changed: 2017-10-19 15:19:41
Duke with Benefits (Studies in Scandal) (2017)
Manda Collins
A romance novel with a strong female lead, Lady Daphne Forsyth, who is a mathematician with some stereotypical anti-social traits. She has been set the task of solving an old mystery by breaking a cipher. However, since this is a romance novel, she is unsurprisingly distracted by a certain hunky guy, the "duke" of the title, whose family owns the library containing the cipher. (more)
Last Changed: 2017-10-19 15:05:46
Petersburg (1913)
Andrei Bely
In this modernist Russian novel, the revolutionary Nikolai Apollonovich Ableukhov is charged with the task of killing a Tsarist official ... his own father. In addition to mathematical terminology that... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-10-11 08:43:34
The Mathematics of Friedrich Gauss (2012)
D.W. Wilson
A math teacher compares his life with that of the great German mathematician C.F. Gauss as he ponders his own marital difficulties. This short story appears in the anthology "Once You Break a Knuckle" which was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas prize. (more)
Last Changed: 2017-08-16 15:56:53
Cap and Gown (2011)
Eric Flint
Richard Leamington has an impact on mathematics at Cambridge University in the 17th Century despite his multiple sclerosis. Although Leamington himself is a fictional character, many of the other characters... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-08-16 14:14:12
The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree (2012)
Michael Swanwick
A mathematical prodigy (she derived her own version of calculus to compute volumes when she was only seven years old, and by age 18 she had three PhD.s, including one in a field she had invented) teams... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-08-16 10:31:46
Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley (2016)
Danyl McLauchlan
A semi-serious Lovecraftian novel set in New Zealand's Te Aro suburb featuring some mystical mathematicians (and questions of Platonism) in a central role. This sequel to the Danyl McLauchlan's "Unspeakable... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-08-09 13:53:53
One Hundred Twenty-One Days (2014)
Michèle Audin (Author) / Christiana Hills (Translator)
This tragic "novel" by mathematician and Oulipo member Michèle Audin follows the lives of three fictional mathematicians (Christian Mortsauf, Robert Gorenstein and Andre Silberberg) through the first... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-08-02 15:21:31
Gifted (2017)
Marc Webb (director) / Tom Flynn (writer)
Mary is a seven year old math prodigy being raised by her uncle (Chris Evans from Captain America) after her mother's suicide. The uncle believes he is following his sister's wishes by trying to raise... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-08-02 15:11:11
Infinite Sum (2016)
Sheila Deeth
Although trained as a mathematician and happily married, Sylvia has psychological issues that are interfering with her life. The main focus of this novel is on her interactions with her therapist in which... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-07-31 10:28:28
What it Means When A Man Falls From The Sky (2017)
Lesley Nneka Arimah
In a post-apocalyptic Africa, now home to many Europeans who came as refugees from the floods but then took over, mathematicians have the job of eliminating people's pain. In this fantastical world,... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-07-27 21:52:36
Very in Pieces (2015)
Megan Frazer Blakemore
A coming-of-age novel for young adults about a mathematically talented girl named Very Sayles-Woodruff who has trouble fitting in with her family of painters and poets. In one subplot, a teacher has put... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-07-16 19:30:23
The God Wave (2016)
Patrick Hemstreet
A neuroscientist and mathematician team up to boost the intellectual power of some experimental subjects by altering their brain waves in this techno-thriller. Math is frequently mentioned throughout... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-07-16 19:06:40
The Fall of Man In Wilmslow (2009)
David Lagercrantz
Before he gained fame in the US as the Swedish author taking over the mystery series featuring the fictional heroine Lisbeth Sander, David Lagercrantz wrote this novel about the death of mathematician... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-05-16 15:31:46
Our Lady, Queen of Undecidable Propositions (2016)
Hugh C Culik
A story that uses math as both a language and a metaphor for a poetic discussion of the human condition involving a Catholic priest. Published in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Volume 6 Issue 2 (July 2016), pages 230-240. (more)
Last Changed: 2017-04-24 11:12:52
Final Exam (2011)
Robert Dawson
A math professor nearing retirement and displeased with trends in academia decides to use his final exam (the last he will ever give) to get his revenge on the cheating students in his calculus class.... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-04-14 11:40:02
On the Occasion Of Your Graduation (2011)
Robert Dawson
A thesis advisor entrusts his Ph.D. student with the responsibility of determining what to do with his discovery that mathematics contains inconsistencies. This is one of several works of fiction that... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-04-14 11:07:06
Damned Souls and Statistics (2011)
Robert Dawson
A statistician sells her soul to the devil in exchange for guaranteed tenure, but redeems herself by creating a cleverly useless confidence interval. I like the part about the realization during her... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-04-13 17:52:37
Ladies' Night (2017)
Robert Dawson
A card sharp known as "Lady Jane" attempts to swindle a statistician visiting Las Vegas for a conference. The plot twists and turns as it mentions things like the Monty Hall Problem, Game Theory, and Bayes' Theorem. It appeared in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics (Volume 7, Issue 1, January 2017). Thanks to Larry Lesser for bringing it to my attention. (more)
Last Changed: 2017-04-12 16:39:35
Who Killed Professor X? (2010)
Thodoris Andriopoulos / Thanasis Gkiokas
The famous mathematician Professor X (not to be confused with Charles Xavier) is found dead before his presentation to the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1900, and this graphic novel puts... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-03-27 09:58:35
The Steradian Trail (2013)
M.N. Krish
This mathematical thriller takes place in India where American computer science professor Joshua Ezekiel is attempting to figure out the twisted criminal plot that his recently murdered student had become... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-03-24 16:51:59
A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions (1991)
Kim Stanley Robinson
This work of speculative fiction is not a traditional work of fiction with a plot and characters, but reads more like an essay about the chaotic nature of reality which includes some alternative histories... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-03-23 21:46:35
X+Y (A Brilliant Young Mind) (2014)
Morgan Matthews (Director) / James Graham (Writer)
A cinematic dramatization based on the true story of an autistic boy who represents Britain at the International Mathematics Olympiad. Thanks to Allan Goldberg for bringing it to my attention. As... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-03-23 21:30:46
The Lottery in Babylon [La lotería en Babilonia] (1941)
Jorge Luis Borges
In what is clearly a metaphor for the apparent randomness of life (and the theological implications that follow), the great Argentinian writer Borges crafts a tale about the all important lottery in a... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-01-12 16:10:44
Hidden Figures (2016)
Allison Schroeder (writer) / Theodore Melfi (director and writer)
Hidden Figures is a "Hollywood-ized" version of the true story of three women who worked in the "colored computers" unit at NASA's Langley Research Center. In particular, it follows Katherine (Goble)... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-01-08 10:25:58
Murder on the Einstein Express (2016)
Harun Šiljak
An essay containing many interesting remarks and anecdotes about mathematics and mathematical physics presented in the form of a dialogue between a professor and students. Topics covered include entropy,... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-01-05 16:41:47
Cantor Trilogy (2015)
Harun Šiljak
An intriguing short work of speculative fiction about a future in which nearly all mathematics research is conducted by computers. In fact, in the story, only one journal (The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics),... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-01-05 16:28:27

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)