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 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
The Fall of Man In Wilmslow (2016)
David Lagercrantz
The author best known for taking over the mystery series featuring the fictional heroine Lisbeth Sander turns to a true story here when he novelizes the death of mathematician Alan Turing. The story follows not Turing himself but the detectives investigating his suicide. (more)
Last Changed: 2016-12-14 16:09:03
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
A Doubter's Almanac (2016)
Ethan Canin
This literary novel follows the life of the fictional mathematical genius Milo Andret from his youth in Michigan, though his education at Berkeley and the winning of a Fields Medal as a Princeton math... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-05-06 13:35:11
La formule de Stokes, roman (2016)
Michèle Audin
The author, a professional mathematician as well as a member of the Oulipo literary group, wrote this unusual novel whose protagonist is not a person or animal but a formula. At least, that is what I... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-05-05 14:49:44
The Square Root of Summer (2016)
Harriet Reuter Hapgood
In this young adult novel, a mathematically inclined teenager who ignores the sad events she does not want to remember learns to deal with them by literally revisiting her past through wormholes. There... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-05-01 19:32:47
L.A. Math: Romance, Crime and Mathematics in the City of Angels (2016)
James D. Stein
This book of short stories about a "gumshoe" and his mathematically inclined landlord aims teaches the reader some elementary math along the way. The difference between continuous and annual compounding... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-04-02 18:54:18
The Adventures of Topology Man (2005)
Highly Rated!
Alex Kasman
Parody is easy....topology is hard! In this short story, I made use of (and made fun of) the classic superhero comic book genre to illustrate some ideas from topology. So, we end up seeing a battle... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-03-31 10:58:29
The Three-Body Problem (2006)
Cixim Liu (author) / Ken Liu (translator)
This creative "first contact" novel by a famous Chinese science fiction author won many awards, including the Hugo award. Like much "hard SF", it is a work of fiction in which the ideas are at least... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-03-17 14:21:13
The Hurricane (2016)
R.J. Prescott
A British novel in which a shy math student, damaged by her past, begins an unlikely romance with a powerful boxer. "Hurricane" O'Connell is handsome, muscular, and dangerous, but also happens to be madly... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-03-07 16:17:42
The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)
Matt Brown (Screenwriter and Director)
This biographical film starring Dev Patel as Ramanujan and Jeremy Irons as Hardy is based on the biography of the same name by Robert Kaniglel. Because it is a rather reliable adaptation of that non-fictional... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-02-19 09:16:54
The Cinderella Theorem (2014)
Kristee Ravan
A very serious, mathematically inclined teenage girl is shocked to learn that her father is not dead as she had previously believed but rather is the ruler of an enchanted kingdom. The no-nonsense,... (more)
Last Changed: 2016-02-13 21:16:16

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)