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 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 get his revenge on the cheating students in his calculus class. This very nicely written story appears in the... (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. (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
Normed Trek (2014)
Harun Šiljak
This short story is a parody that combines elements of Star Trek with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland using concepts and terminology from mathematics (especially analysis). Limit, the final frontier.... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-01-05 16:19:18
Unlocked (2012)
Courtney Milan
In this novella the heroine's mother is an amateur astronomer computing the orbit of a comet. She has no recognition from professional astronomers. She is invited by her fellow upper class ladies... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-01-02 13:57:40
The Boy Who Escaped Paradise (2016)
J.M. Lee (author) / Chi-Young Kim (translator)
After a body is found surrounded by mathematical formulas in Queens, a young Korean man named Gil-Mo is arrested for the murder. Because of his autistic tendencies, he does not respond at all to the usual... (more)
Last Changed: 2017-01-01 17:00:21
Yesternight (2016)
Cat Winters
In this eerie thriller, a school psychologist tries to help parents of a young girl they believe is the reincarnated soul of a mathematical genius who died at the age of 19. A psychologist fresh out... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-12-14 16:00:02
Matrices (2016)
Steven Nightingale
One of 64 fantastical short stories in the collection "The Hot Climate of Promises and Grace", this one concerns a mathematician who fills matrices with real objects instead of numbers. The results are... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-12-14 15:48:10
Lady Claire is All That (2016)
Maya Rodale
Claire Cavendish is a rare item in 19th century England, a woman whose primary interests lie within mathematics. Rather than making her an object of desire, however, her insistence on talking about maths... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-12-14 15:29:52
The Fall of a Sparrow (1998)
Robert Hellenga
In this novel, a literature professor travels to Italy to testify at the trial of the terrorists who murdered his daughter in a 1980 train bombing. The only math in it appears because another one of his... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-10-09 16:46:18
The Sea of Trees (2016)
Gus Van~Sant (director) / Chris Sparling (Writer)
This film is about a mathematician (Matthew McConaughey) who contemplates suicide in a Japanese forest after his wife's death. Even in the preview (sorry, I haven't seen the film yet) we can see that... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-09-02 20:06:19
Arcadia (2016)
Iain Pears
As this clever novel is intentionally a hodge-podge of genres, it is a bit difficult to describe. It involves a British spy brought back from retirement in the 1960s to find a mole, a mathematician in... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-08-18 11:17:03
Story of Your Life (1998)
Ted Chiang
What sort of mathematics would Vonnegut's Tralfamadorean's like to do? Or, alternatively, what sort of worldview would a sentient species have if their idea of simple mathematics was the calculus of... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-08-17 21:48:41
The Countess Conspiracy (2013)
Courtney Milan
This is a romance novel set in Victorian England in which the heroine is a biologist studying inheritance and the hero is her friend who publishes and presents her work in his name. The story begins... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-08-17 13:41:17
Ninefox Gambit (2016)
Yoon Ha Lee
In a desperate attempt to retake the Fortress of Needles from the heretics who have taken it over, the mathematically talented Kel captain named Cheris is promoted to the rank of general and mentally... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-07-27 09:45:18
At Ocean (2016)
Oliver Serang
Because she still makes discoveries with her own brain (unlike most scientists in the near future universe of At Ocean whose discoveries are all made by computers), Eun Kim is selected for a dangerous... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-07-09 15:38:40
E-Z Calculus [Calculus by Discovery] (1982)
Douglas Downing
"E-Z Calculus", which was previously published under the titles "Calculus the Easy Way" and "Calculus by Discovery", aims to teach the fundamentals of calculus through the adventures of a man who has washed... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-06-30 21:51:59
The Magic Two-Horn (1949)
Sergey Pavlovich Bobrov
I barely know anything about this Russian children's book that takes place in a magical mathematical world. Maxim Arnold mentioned it to me at a conference in Oaxaca and told me only that many mathematicians cite it as a source of their interest in mathematics. If you know any more details, please write to let me know. (more)
Last Changed: 2016-06-16 15:29:38
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: 2016-06-09 08:31:07

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)