MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Genre=Historical Fiction

155 matches found out of 1141 entries

(Note: This page not the entire list of works of Mathematical Fiction. To see the whole list, click here.)

Abendland (Occident) (2007)
Michael Köhlmeier
The protagonist is an Austrian mathematician who, according to the fictional invention of the author, worked with Emmy Noether in Göttingen during the 'Golden Age' of German Mathematics, i.e. before Hitler came to power. In chapter 6 we learn a lot about Noether's life in Göttingen, Moscow, and the US. (more)
Against the Day (2006)
Highly Rated!
Thomas Pynchon
This novel, set in the time frame 1890s to 1920s interleaves several plots and styles, from boys' adventures to peacetime spies to gunslingers' revenges. The forces of progress stomp over all the... (more)
Agora (2009)
Alejandro Amenábar (writer and director) / Mateo Gil (writer)
A film based on the life of Hypatia of Alexandria. What little we know of the real Hypatia suggests that she was a talented mathematician and teacher (neither of them easy professions for a woman to enter... (more)
The Almond Tree (2012)
Michelle Cohen Corasanti
A poor Palestinian boy growing up in Israel during the 1950s and 1960s endures persecution but eventually becomes a successful scientific researcher because of his mathematical skills. The author, who... (more)
Arcadia (1993)
Highly Rated!
Tom Stoppard
Stoppard's critically successful play includes long discussions of topics of mathematical interest including: Fermat's Last Theorem and Newtonian determinism, iterated algorithms, the second law of thermodynamics, Fourier's... (more)
Archimedes, a planetarium opera (2007)
James Dashow
Opera, as in people singing and music playing, and not the usual Latin for "works". James Dashow has been scripting, composing, and recording Archimedes, a "planetarium opera" for the past ten years. It's... (more)
The Art Student's War (2009)
Brad Leithauser
In this novel, Bea Paradiso is an art student during World War II who makes portraits of wounded soldiers. (Not coincidentally, the author's mother-in-law did the same, and the book is enhanced by the... (more)
Émilie (2010)
Kaija Saariaho (composer)/Amin Maalouf (libretto)
In this opera, a single performer portrays the final days in the life of Émilie du Châtelet, whose promising career as a mathematical physicist in the 18th century was tragically cut short at the age of 42. Émilie du Châtelet's story is also told in two recent plays: see Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight and Legacy of Light . (more)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Sylvia Nasar / Akiva Goldsman
Although the book A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr. is not fictional, Ron Howard's film (released December 2001) most certainly is. (I say this not as a complaint, but just to justify... (more)
The Bed and the Bachelor (2011)
Tracy Anne Warren
Although it involves cryptography and the Napoleonic wars, this novel is really more of a romance than it is historical fiction or espionage. Sebastianne Dumont is the daughter of a French mathematician... (more)
The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or the Segregation of the Queen (1994)
Laurie R. King
A retired Sherlock Holmes, now tending bees in Sussex Downs, develops a friendship with a 15 year old orphan named Mary Russell. By all accounts, Mary proves to be a great partner for Holmes as they attempt... (more)
Beyond the Limit: The Dream of Sofya Kovalevskaya (2002)
Joan Spicci
This book is a novelized account of the life of Sofia Kovalevskaya (aka Sonia Kovalevskey and infinitely1 many alternative spellings), famous today as the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics.... (more)
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 his ancestors during a sleepless night in this critically acclaimed new... (more)
The Bones of Time (1996)
Kathleen Ann Goonan
A young 21st century mathematician named Cen (short for Century) Kalakaua falls in love with a 19th century Hawaiian princess when they meet through an unusual temporal phenomenon. He becomes obsessed... (more)
Breaking the Code (1986)
Highly Rated!
Hugh Whitemore (playwright)
This biography of Alan Turing is a "character study" of this fascinating mathematician. Although we do see some mathematics (including an especially nice description of Gödel's Theorem and its mathematical significance)... (more)
Calculus (Newton's Whores) (2004)
Carl Djerassi
The credit for the invention of calculus has long been contested, being claimed by both Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. A committee established by the Royal Society in 1712 concluded that Newton was... (more)
The Cambridge Quintet (1999)
John L. Casti
A group of famous historical figures, including Wittegenstein, Schrödinger, J.B.S. Haldane, and Alan Turing meet at the home of C.P. Snow to discuss the question of whether machines can think. John... (more)
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (1955)
Highly Rated!
Jean Lee Latham
The life of early American mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch, famous for his work on techniques of navigation, is fictionalized in this novel for young adults. Although the mathematical details are not... (more)
A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel (2007)
Highly Rated!
Gaurav Suri / Hartosh Singh Bal
The intertwined stories of Ravi, a Stanford student taking a course on "Infinity" in the 1980's, and his grandfather who was jailed for blasphemy in New Jersey in 1919 constitute a philosophical investigation... (more)
The Chosen (1967)
Chaim Potok
In Chaim Potok's classic novel about two Jewish teenagers growing up in New York City at the end of World War II, one of the two boys expresses an interest in symbolic logic: 'What kind of mathematics... (more)
City of Infinite Bridges (2007)
Alex Rose
A very short, definitely fictional but delightful little tale about Katharina Gsell, Euler’s wife. In this fictional account, Katharina is supposed to have displayed a graph of the 7 Konigsberg bridges... (more)
The Company of Strangers (2001)
Robert Wilson
A bittersweet romance/thriller about a young woman mathematician in Portugal spying for the British during World War II. There is a lot of interesting stuff in this novel if you're looking at the romance... (more)
Conceiving Ada (1997)
Lynn Hershman-Leeson
Bizarre, low-budget film in which a female computer programmer from the 20th century accesses the memories of Ada Lovelace, the 19th century mathematician and daughter of the poet Lord Byron. The film... (more)
Confusions of Young Torless (1906)
Robert Musil
A semi-autobiographical novel set in a military academy in a desolate corner of the Austro-Hungarian empire, is the story of the intellectual awakening of an intelligent adolescent, and contains several... (more)
Conned Again, Watson! Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math and Probability (2000)
Highly Rated!
Colin Bruce
To follow-up on his clever popular physics book that explains modern physics using Sherlock Holmes as a guide, Oxford based writer Colin Bruce has written a book that teaches some important mathematical... (more)
Continuums (2008)
Highly Rated!
Robert Carr
The decisions we make and the difficulty in accepting the consequences is the main focus of this book about a Romanian mathematician who leaves her country and her daughter to be in a place that she could... (more)
Cryptonomicon (1998)
Highly Rated!
Neal Stephenson
This "cult" novel of mathematics, computer science, espionage and warfare follows a mathematician through World War II and his grandson through the creation of a (less than ordinary) silicon valley start-up company.... (more)
Dark Matter: The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton (2002)
Philip Kerr
A multiple-murder mystery which outlandishly casts Newton in the role of Sherlock Holmes during his tenure as Warden at the British Royal Mint (Watson is played Christopher Ellis, nephew of mathematician... (more)
Dead Ancients Trilogy (2008)
Peter Hobbs
Pythagoras explains in first person his celebrated theorem, complete with diagrams and shaded triangles. It is a source of substantial chagrin to him because it naturally leads to the irrational numbers.... (more)
The Death of Archimedes (1923)
Karel Čapek
As history usually tells the story, Archimedes is killed by a Roman soldier who did not realize who he was. In this version, however, the centurion is well aware of who he is speaking with. While he... (more)
Der Tag ohne Abend (The Day without Evening) (1925)
Leo Perutz
Der Tag ohne Abend/The Day without Evening is a short story which alludes to the life of Evariste Galois and to Augustine's theology. Perutz' protagonist is called Georges Durval, he lives at the beginning... (more)
The Difference Engine (1991)
William Gibson / Bruce Sterling
Two of the innovators of the cyberpunk novel -- famous for showing how messed up the future will be because of technology -- turn everything around and show us instead how great the past would have been... (more)
A Disappearing Number (2007)
Highly Rated!
Simon McBurney
Scenes of Srinivasa Ramanujan's collaboration with G.H. Hardy around the time of World War I are mixed in with modern storylines including an Indian physicist who has applied Ramanujan's work to String... (more)
Disciple of the Masses (2008)
Xujun Eberlein
A pathos-filled short story set in rural China toward the end of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. It captures beautifully the sense of loss inherent in a centrally-directed and enforced revolution, with... (more)
Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959)
Highly Rated!
Hamilton Luske (director)
Disney's Donald Duck takes an adventure to a land where mathematics "comes alive". (Animated short.) I used this video in my 6th grade classroom. The kids enjoyed watching ... (more)
D'Alembert's Principle: A Novel in Three Panels (2000)
Andrew Crumey
A fictionalized presentation of the life (and love) of Jean le Rond D'Alembert (1717-1783), best known -- to me at least -- as the first to study and solve the famous linear wave equation u_xx + c u_tt = 0. See the online bookreview at at MAA Online. (more)
Eifelheim (2006)
Michael Flynn
In this award winning science fiction novel, Tom and Sharon have a lot in common. They share an apartment, both use sophisticated mathematics in their research, and both become completely obsessed with... (more)
The Eight (1989)
Katherine Neville
This book really is AMAZING. I have read it numerous times and it always gets better. Math plays an important part in this story and the connections made in the plot are fascinating. This book is an... (more)
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)
Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight (2010)
Lauren Gunderson
This play allows Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet, who was a successful mathematical physicist until her tragic death at age 42 in the year 1749, to analyze her own life... (more)
Emmy Noether: The Mother of Modern Algebra (2008)
Margaret B.W. Tent
A semi-fictional biography of Emmy Noether written for young adults. The book has received positive reviews from many mathematicians who hope (as, one supposes, does the author) that young readers will... (more)
En busca de Klingsor (In Search of Klingsor) (1999)
Jorge Volpi
The story is highly mathematical, involving a German Character called Gustav Links, though the main character is a young American physicist called Francis Bacon (sounds good). The idea is that this... (more)
Enigma (1995)
Robert Harris / Tom Stoppard
In this this espionage story set in England's Bletchley Park at the height of the Second World War, Tom Jericho is a clever mathematician at the famous code breaking facility who -- either despite or because... (more)
Evariste and Heloise (2008)
Marco Abate
This contribution to the collection The Shape of Content is difficult to classify. Combining fiction and fact, essay and comic book, fantasy and philosophy, it essentially takes the form of a proposal... (more)
Evariste Galois (1965)
Alexadre Astruc (writer and director)
Short film about the romantic and tragic death of Galois, the young mathematician whose research laid the foundation for Group Theory. I haven't actually seen the film, but the following quote (stolen... (more)
The Fairytale of the Completely Symmetrical Butterfly (2003)
Dietmar Dath
I have long thought that Emmy Noether deserved to be the heroine of a work of mathematical fiction. I had even begun writing a story of my own to fill this gap. But, have no fear, since Dietmar Dath... (more)
Fermat's Last Tango (2000)
Highly Rated!
Joanne Sydney Lessner / Joshua Rosenblum
Fermat's Last Tango is an intelligently written, hilarious fantasia based on Andrew Wiles' 1993 proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. The main plot consists of a love triangle between Daniel Keane... (more)
The Fibonacci Confessions (2010)
Graham Wade
A historical novel telling the life story of Leonardo Pisano, perhaps the most famous European mathematician of the Middle Ages, better known today as Fibonacci. We know very little of the historical... (more)
The First Circle (1968)
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
Solzhenitsyn had been a math major until Hitler and Stalin came up with a different career path for him, and TFC is based on his own brief stay in the luxury side of the Gulag, which he claims saved his... (more)
The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem (2000)
Rinne Groff
I think this play about a number theory conference at the British seaside at the turn of the 20th century may be misunderstood. The plot revolves around the neuroses of the senior researcher, Moses Vazsonyi,... (more)
Flow Down Like Silver: Hypatia of Alexandria (2009)
Ki Longfellow
Another novel about the historical figure Hypatia of Alexandria whose murder by Christian zealots as the Ancient Greek culture faded away makes her a good subject for authors with certain political and... (more)
Flowers Stained with Moonlight (2005)
Catherine Shaw
In this sequel to The Three-Body Problem, Vanessa Duncan is called upon to save an innocent young woman, falsely suspected of murdering her older and unlikable husband. Although there is no mathematics... (more)
Forgotten Milestones in Computing No. 7: The Quenderghast Bullian Algebraic Calculator (1990)
Alex Stewart
A very creative story about a mathematician which History has entirely forgotten - one "Thaddeus Q. Quenderghast III, of Nettlebend, Wyoming". Born around 1821, a contemporary of Charles Babbage and... (more)
The French Mathematician (1998)
Highly Rated!
Tom Petsinis
A fictionalized account (in first person) of the life and untimely death of Evariste Galois, originator of the mathematical subject now known as group theory. This is a story about a mathematician,... (more)
Freud's Megalomania: A Novel (2001)
Israel Rosenfield
This is an intriguing piece of work, mixing fact with fiction and different styles (from the scientific essay to the diary), probably best understood as an ironic look upon the "Freud wars".... (more)
Frobenius: A Sesquilogue (1996)
Lee Rudolph
A fictionalized account of the life of Hamilton as remembered by Frobenius (in verse). (A slightly different version was published in the Mathematical Intelligencer.) (more)
The Future Engine (1995)
Byron Tetrick
Charles Babbage's son calls on Sherlock Holmes to investigate the theft of the Analytic Engine from its warehouse. The son gives a description of its importance to mathematical calculations. But it's his mention of the role of the binomial theorem in its working that arouses Holmes's interest. Published in Mike Resnick and M H Greenberg (eds) SHERLOCK HOLMES IN ORBIT. (more)
Galileo (1938)
Bertolt Brecht
Of course, Brecht's biographical play takes more of a political than a mathematical view of the life of the famous astronomer/mathematician. Note that Joseph Losey, who directed the first American production... (more)
A Higher Geometry (2006)
Highly Rated!
Sharelle Byars Moranville
A teenage girl in the 1950's pursues her dream of becoming a mathematician in the American midwest over a background of sexism, romance and Cold War politics. This fictional account mirrors some of the... (more)
A Hill on the Dark Side of the Moon (1983)
Lennart Hjulström
A Swedish film about the life of Sonia Kovalevsky. The title refers, apparently, to a site on the moon which was actually named in her honor. The film tends to avoid the mathematics (for example, melodramatic... (more)
Hypatia (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. (more)
Hypatia: New Foes with an Old Face (1852)
Charles Kingsley
A fictionalized account of the life and murder of Hypatia, once recognized as the greatest living mathematician in the Greco-Roman world. This book, written in 1852 by Reverend Kingsley, focuses more... (more)
The Imitation Game (2014)
Morten Tyldum (director) / Graham Moore (screenplay)
I do not yet know much about this film other than that Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, Keira Knightley is Joan Clark and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey) is a spy. The title, presumably, is a reference to the Turing Test. (more)
In Good King Charles's Golden Days (1939)
George Bernard Shaw
Considered by many to be Shaw's worst play, this late example of his witty writing may be of special interest to visitors to this site. It takes place at the home of Sir Isaac Newton where he is joined... (more)
In The Country of the Blind (1990)
Michael Flynn
Sarah Beaumont escaped from the modern American ghetto to become a successful journalist, programmer and real estate investor. However, while investigating an idea for developing her latest real estate... (more)
The Indian Clerk (2007)
David Leavitt
Acclaimed author, Leavitt, presents a fictionalized version of one of the most famous "human interest stories" in mathematical history: the short life and career of Srinivasa Ramanujan. Focusing largely... (more)
Infinities (2002)
John Barrow
This play, written by Cambridge cosmologist John Barrow, has been produced and performed in Italy (Milan and Valencia). It is made up of five separate vignettes several of which touch on the deep mathematics... (more)
Infinity (1996)
Patricia Broderick
It's about the early years of Richard Feynman, up to the completion of the Manhattan Project, and the death of his wife. What I like particularily is a scene in NY's Chinatown where [Feynman] races... (more)
The Ingenious Mr. Spinola (1924)
Ernest Bramah
Max Carrados is a blind amateur detective genius, quite popular in the early 20th century, but mostly forgotten since then. (Such is also the fate of E.B.'s Kai Lung fantasy stories.) ... (more)
An Instance of the Fingerpost (1999)
Iain Pears
A murder mystery set in Oxford in the 1660's. Mathematician John Wallis plays a major role as a character in the book (and Newton a small role). See the review at MAA online. A very fine piece... (more)
The Ishango Bone (2012)
Paul Hastings Wilson
Amiele becomes the first female student at Trinity College and goes on to disprove the Riemann Hypothesis at the age of 26, but is denied the Fields Medal. Written as if it were her life story recorded... (more)
The Jester and the Mathematician (2000)
Alan R. Gordon
A short historical fiction piece involving Leonardo of Pisa ("Fibonacci"). Interesting story which features Fibonacci talking briefly about his rabbit-series/sequence, his abacus-duel with Pisa's foremost... (more)
Journey into a Dark Heart (1998)
Peter Hoeg
This story appears in the collection Tales of the Night made up of stories by Hoeg that are all set on the evening of March 19, 1929. In this one, a depressed young Danish mathematician takes a train... (more)
Kepler: A Novel (1981)
John Banville
Johannes Kepler, the most famous Rennaissance court mathematician, is remembered today for his successes, especially his explicit description of planetary orbits. However, he also had some rather strange... (more)
The Kingdom of Ohio (2009)
Matthew Flaming
Cheri-Anne Toledo, the daughter of the King of Ohio, uses her mathematical skills (and the assistance of Nikola Tesla) to build a device that is supposed to be able transport people instantaneously from... (more)
The Lady's Code (2006)
Samantha Saxon
The third in a series of romance novels about intelligent, confident women, The Lady's Code features Lady Juliet Pervell, who has ruined her reputation in social circles but earned an honorary degree in... (more)
Leap (2004)
Lauren Gunderson
This play explores the inspiration for Isaac Newton's amazing discoveries in 1664, personifying it in the form of two young girls whose playful interaction leads to the results we remember Newton for today.... (more)
Legacy of Light (2009)
Karen Zacarías
Two tales of discovery and pregnancy are told in this play. An astrophysicist at the Newton Institute whose team has discovered evidence of a planet in formation feels that she is too old to be pregnant... (more)
Let Newton Be! (2011)
Craig Baxter
The three actors in this play portray Isaac Newton at three different stages of his life, as well as occasionally representing other people. Interestingly, the three Newton's interact with each other,... (more)
The Library Paradox (2006)
Catherine Shaw
Vanessa Duncan returns as the skilled amateur detective of Victorian England in this third mystery novel by "Catherine Shaw". (See The Three-Body Problem and Flowers Stained with Moonlight for the earlier... (more)
Life and Fate (1959)
Vasily Grossman
A Russian nuclear physicist flirts with the wife of his mathematician colleague and makes an important mathematical discovery, all during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. I had not heard of this... (more)
Life in a Mirror (2003)
Daniel Ryan
This e-book not only contains many explicit references to mathematics, but it also claims to follow the outline of a mathematical text! Set in 18th century Brittany, the story is ostensibly about royalty... (more)
Logicomix (2008)
Highly Rated!
Apostolos Doxiadis / Christos Papadimitriou
A graphic novel on the history of mathematical logic by the authors of Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture and Turing. In an interview (available online here) Papadimitriou says: It is really... (more)
The Loom of God: Mathematical Tapestries at the Edge of Time (1997)
Clifford Pickover
A group of time travelers journey back to the time of Pythagoras in an effort to see the origins of mystical mathematics. The journey continues as they explore numerous links between mathematics, nature and mysticism. Concepts featured: pentagonal numbers, perfect numbers, oblong numbers, the golden ratio, and fractals. Religious implications are also discussed. (more)
Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land (2005)
John Crowley
This book is made up of notes and e-mail messages from a feminist historian interspersed with chapters from a previously unknown novel by Lord Byron which she has discovered while researching his daughter,... (more)
Los relatos de Gudor Ben Jusá: Cuentos y consejas con algo de matemáticas más son pocas y de las viejas (1994)
Juan de Burgos Román
A compilation of 40 short stories of mathematical fiction by Juan de Burgos, including those from his calculus books and his 1994 commencement address. Published by Fundación General de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 1994. (more)
The Lost Books of the Odyssey (2008)
Zachary Mason
The introduction to this novel is a work of pseudo-scholarship, explaining how the chapters to follow were decoded by an NSA cryptographer with the help of the author. The intro contains references to... (more)
Lovesong of the Electric Bear (2005)
Highly Rated!
Snoo Wilson (playwright)
This play about Alan Turing, told from the point of view of Porgy, his teddy bear, was produced as part of the Summer 2005 season at the Potomac Theater Project in Maryland. Turing certainly had both... (more)
A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines (2006)
Janna Levin
This novel about Alan Turing and Kurt Gödel contains much that has already been said many times before, and occasionally "tries too hard" artistically. Still I very much enjoyed reading it, and even... (more)
The Man Who Dammed the Yangtze: A Mathematical Novel (2011)
Alex Kuo
A story of two number theorists at the opposite ends of the world having similar experiences of strife and disillusionment at times of great turmoil. Ge is a female mathematician teaching in schools in... (more)
El matemático del Rey (2002)
Juan Carlos Arce
It is a novel about a period in the lives of Juan Lezuza and his friend Luis Obelar during the first years of the rule of Phillip IV of Spain. Juan Lezuza is appointed teacher of the King, but it is... (more)
A Mathematical Mystery Tour: Discovering the Truth and Beauty of the Cosmos (1999)
Highly Rated!
A.K. Dewdney
A "chicken and the egg"-type question of interest to fans of mathematics is this: "Are mathematical results discovered or invented?" To answer this question, A.K. Dewdney takes a "mathematical" tour... (more)
Maxwell's Equations (2005)
Alex Kasman
James Clerk Maxwell was the 19th century theoretician who discovered electro-magnetic waves. He is often described as a "physicist", but I would argue that he was a mathematician. Certainly some of his... (more)
The Measure of Eternity (2006)
Sean McMullen
The beautiful servant of an even more beautiful courtesan leaves the palace in an ancient city and finds a beggar proudly shouting "I have nothing" in many different languages. Yet, this beggar seems... (more)
Measuring the World (2006)
Daniel Kehlmann
Two famous Germans of the 19th Century, mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and explorer/geologist Alexander von Humboldt, are irreverently presented in this novel which topped the sales charts in Germany... (more)
Mersenne's Mistake (2008)
Jason Earls
This is a nice piece of mathematical fiction in which the mathematician/monk Marin Mersenne encounters a demon with amazing mathematical skills. Like the other stories by Earls, this seems to be designed to showcase the interesting numbers which he has found using computer algebra tools. (more)
Miscalculations (2000)
Elizabeth Mansfield
This romance novel features female "math whiz", hired to help an attractive millionaire handle his wealth. Of course, they fall in love. If you have read this book and can correct/add to the description above, please write to me at kasmana@cofc.edu. (more)
Mr. Churchill's Secretary (2012)
Susan Elia MacNeal
A woman who has just earned a degree in mathematics from Wellesley turns down a graduate school offer from MIT to go work under Winston Churchill. However, due to the usual prejudices (see quote below)... (more)
Mr. Churchill's Secretary (2012)
Susan Elia MacNeal
After graduating with a degree in mathematics from Wellesley, Maggie Hope plans to go on to graduate studies at MIT, but her plans change unexpectedly when a letter from England gets her instead looking... (more)
Mrs. Einstein (1998)
Anna McGrail
It's a wonderful novel that invents a history for Einstein's illegitimate daughter, about whom little is known. In the novel, she's a mathematician who becomes obsessed with her father's refusal to acknowledge... (more)
The Music of the Spheres (2001)
Elizabeth Redfern
A highly praised (a la Caleb Carr) historical thriller set in Europe in 1795, involving lots of astronomy. This includes Laplace musing over his theorem that gravitational perturbations are bounded, and his wondering if a similar theorem applies to history. (more)
The Name of the Rose (1980)
Umberto Eco
A mystery novel which takes place in a 14th Century monastery by the brilliant Italian author, Umberto Eco. This book only has a small amount of math in it, but I frequently receive recommendations to... (more)
Newton's Gift (1979)
Paul J. Nahin
Time traveller Wallace John Steinhope believes that he will be able to help his hero, Isaac Newton, avoid the tedium of computation by bringing him an electronic calculator that can do simple arithmetic.... (more)
Newton's Hooke (2004)
David Pinner
A play about Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke which presents "the dark side" of Newton. Emphasis is put on his egotism (not only does he think that he is incomparably brilliant, but he also seems to think... (more)
One, True Platonic Heaven: A Scientific Fiction of the Limits of Knowledge (2003)
John L. Casti
A novel about the limits of scientific knowledge set at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Mathematicians Kurt Gödel and John von Neumann are among the principle characters (along with... (more)
Oracle (2000)
Greg Egan
The protagonist, Robert Stoney is a british mathematician who worked on German codes during WW II, was greatly affected by the death of a close friend, and was later persecuted for his homosexuality. ... (more)
The Ore Miner's Wife (2003)
Karl Iagnemma
A miner who spends his spare time secretly working on geometry problems arouses the suspicions of his God fearing wife when she comes upon his cryptic writings and follows him to a meeting with a visiting... (more)
The Pacific Mystery (2006)
Stephen Baxter
This starts as an alternate history short story, in which Lord Halifax became Prime Minister of England in 1940 and reaches an accommodation with Germany; Germany holds sway over Europe and Russia, Japan... (more)
Papos (2007)
Alex Rose
A short piece which mixes up historical facts/pseudo-facts from Greek history with rich imagination to discuss the discovery of irrational numbers (Pythagoras, Hippasus), the vanishing point in perspective... (more)
The Parrot's Theorem (2000)
Highly Rated!
Denis Guedj
This is an ambitious novel, a magical fantasy about a talking parrot bought at a flea market in France who, with the help of the personal library of a reclusive mathematical genius, teaches some children... (more)
Partition (2003)
Ira Hauptman
According to Ken Ribet's review of the San Francisco production in the Notices of the AMS, this play about the interaction between the mathematicians Hardy and Ramanujan explores the "partitions" that... (more)
Prince of Mathematics: Carl Friedrich Gauss (2006)
Margaret B.W. Tent
A fictionalized account of the life and achievements of one of history's greatest mathematicians, told in a style which is appropriate for children but also maintains the interest of adult readers. (I'm... (more)
Princess Elizabeth's Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery (2012)
Susan Elia MacNeal
Maggie Hope is assigned to stay with the royal family. As we know from her first appearance in Mr. Churchill's Secretary, Maggie has an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Wellesley and was about... (more)
Professor and Colonel (1987)
Ruth Berman
In this unusual story, we get to see another side to Sherlock Holmes' arch enemy, the brilliant but evil mathematician Professor Moriarty. Here, rather than perpetrating a crime, Moriarty is merely visiting with his brother, discussing the significance of his research into asteroid dynamics. (See also Asimov's take on this same subject.) (more)
Professor Conundrum Mysteries! (2008)
Bill Streifer
My book, Professor Conundrum Mysteries!...combines math education (non-fiction) and historical fiction. The book consists of five stories that take place during important events in 20th century U.S.... (more)
Progress (2005)
Alex Kasman
The mathematics of ancient Egypt can look very strange to us today. For example, although they did not have many fractions, they did know about the number 2/3. Strangely, however, it took a page of computation... (more)
Pythagoras' Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery (2009)
Arturo Sangalli
Freelance science journalist Sangalli has written a book which presents some historical information about Pythagoras and his beliefs in the form of a novel of the detail driven conspiracy theory adventure... (more)
Pythagoras's Darkest Hour (2007)
Colin Adams
A humorous short story from the author of Mathematically Bent which tells the true story of the discovery of the Pythagorean Theorem. Well, actually, perhaps it isn't exactly true...but it is so good,... (more)
Pythagorean Crimes (2006)
Highly Rated!
Tefcros Michaelides
This murder mystery takes place amid the exciting developments occurring in the mathematical and artistic communities in Europe between 1900 and 1931. Much of what one will learn by reading this book... (more)
Quicksilver: The Baroque Cycle Volume 1 (2003)
Highly Rated!
Neal Stephenson
This long novel from the author of Cryptonomicon does for 17th Century mathematics what that earlier novel did for the 20th century. Namely, it deifies some great historical mathematicians (this time... (more)
Ramanujan’s Miracles – A Drama To Demystify Mathematics (1997)
R.N. Kapur
A dramatization involving a particular problem which Ramanujan had solved and how two teenagers reason out why the solution works. Scene 1 of the drama has Mahalanobis and Ramanujan in conversation... (more)
Der Rechenmeister [aka The Mathematician] (1999)
Dieter Jörgensen
When I browsed through your list I found one book missing that I have in my library: "Der Rechenmeister" by Dieter Jörgensen is a novel describing the life of Niccolo Tartaglia in Venice and his battle... (more)
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (1967)
Tom Stoppard
This brilliant, weird play, retelling the story of Shakespeare's Hamlet from the point of view of two "throw away" characters, unfortunately has very little mathematics in it. However, every few days... (more)
The Sand-Reckoner (2000)
Highly Rated!
Gillian Bradshaw
In this historical novel whose title is copied from one Archimedes' own works, the famous Greek mathematician is your typical math nerd, always so wrapped up in his computations that he is barely aware... (more)
Sebastian (1968)
David Greene (director)
A film about a British mathematician trying to break the German codes during World War II. (So, add this to the growing list of works of mathematical fiction inspired by Alan Turing!) I must admit that I have not yet seen the film, but you've got to love its tagline: We can't tell you what he does (it's an international secret) but he does it with 100 girls... and does it the best! (more)
Sekret Enigmy (1979)
Roman Wionczek
Although Alan Turing tends to get much of the credit for breaking the Nazi "Enigma" codes during World War II, three Polish mathematicians did preliminary work that was equally brilliant and equally important. This film tells their story, featuring some real acts of heroism. (more)
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1974)
Nicholas Meyer
Meyer presents an alternative view of Sherlock Holmes in this surprising novel: that of a deluded drug addict. In particular, and of interest to those who visit this Website, we learn that Professor Moriarty is only a kindly mathematician who once tutored Holmes in mathematics. The idea that he is a criminal mastermind (as we learn in Conan Doyle's stories) is just part of Holmes' paranoia. (more)
The Shackles of Conviction (2008)
James R. Meyer
This novel intersperses a fictionalized account of the life of Kurt Gödel with the modern tale of an engineer who realizes (and eventually convinces the world) that Gödel's proof was flawed and that his (more)
Shakespeare Predicted it All (2003)
Dietmar Dath
An artistically composed piece about Georg Cantor, inventor of the theory of transfinite cardinals, in the form of a dialogue between the characters "1" and "2", both of whom are either Cantor or Hamlet.... (more)
The Shiloh Project (1993)
David R. Beaucage
This is a Christian science fiction novel with mathematical undertones written by an author with a doctorate in mathematics. In it, a Jewish math teacher falsely accused of sexually abusing a student... (more)
Shooting the Sun (2004)
Max Byrd
Historical mathematicians Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage play supporting roles in this novel about an expedition into uncharted Indian territory to capture the first photograph of a solar eclipse at... (more)
Sophie's Diary (2004)
Highly Rated!
Dora Musielak
Sophie Germain famously studied mathematics at night by candlelight despite her parents' insistence that she give up this unfeminine discipline. She then went on to become one of the great mathematician's... (more)
The Square Root of Pythagoras (1999)
Paul Di Filippo/Rudy Rucker
Pythagoras has been granted the magical power of five numbers. Along the way he discusses his theorem, the five Platonic solids, and his general philosophy about numbers and the universe. But he... (more)
The Stargazers (1986)
Barbara Susan Lefever
An historical novel based on Mason and Dixon. (Includes references!) It was self-published in a first printing of 700, and a second printing of 200. The author is/was a member of the Pennsylvania Society... (more)
Still She Haunts Me (2001)
Katie Roiphe
A novel about the life of Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll). I have not read it, and it most certainly focuses more on his affections for Alice than on his mathematics, but I suppose there must be... (more)
The Story of Yung Chang (1900)
Ernest Bramah (Ernest Bramah Smith)
Before the invention of multiplication tables, a Chinese idol merchant must sell his wares individually, even if someone wishes to purchase a large amount, since he has no way to determine how much money... (more)
A Study in Seduction (2012)
Nina Rowan
From the back cover: "A heart divided...a passion multiplied...a love unequalled." Although you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, I could guess from the image of a shirtless man with no chest hair... (more)
A Suitable Boy (1993)
Vikram Seth
Sometimes referred to as the longest published English novel, this book about a mother's search for a husband for her daughter in post-colonial India has enough pages to devote a few to mathematics. And,... (more)
The Sum of All Kisses (2013)
Julia Quinn
Lady Sarah Pleinsworth and a mathematician who was crippled in a duel are forced to spend time together. Since they despise each other at the outset, we know from the typical plot arc of the romance novel... (more)
Summer Solstice (1985)
Charles Leonard Harness
I did enjoy reading this short story (nominated for a Nebula award in 1985) in which the famous Greek mathematician Eratosthenes determines the Earth's circumference and meets a shipwrecked alien, but... (more)
The Three Body Problem (2004)
Highly Rated!
Catherine Shaw
A cleverly titled novel that uses a historical mathematical contest and several characters based on real mathematicians as the basis for a murder mystery. Of special interest is the novel's presentation... (more)
To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998)
Connie Willis
Travelling through time, as we all know, is a dangerous business. One small change in the past and you could mess up the future! In this science fiction novel, Willis proposes a (vaguely mathematical)... (more)
Too Much Happiness (2009)
Alice Munro
The penultimate collection of short stories from Nobel laureate Alice Munro features a title story about the final days of Sonia Kovalevskaya. The main source of tension in the story is her love affair... (more)
Touch the Water, Touch the Wind (1972)
Amos Oz
Amos Oz, the famous Israeli author and political activist, wrote this mathematical, musical and mystical novel about a Holocaust survivor who proves a terribly important theorem about "infinity" while... (more)
Turbulence (2010)
Giles Foden
A British meteorologist is stationed in Scotland during World War II not to simply run a weather station (which is his cover), but to get to know the brilliant Wallace Ryman and learn to use his mathematical... (more)
Two Moons (2000)
Thomas Mallon
A historical novel set in Washington DC of the late 19th century in which astronomers and the Naval Observatory (aided by the "computer" Cynthia May) deal with scientific and political matters of the... (more)
Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture (1992)
Highly Rated!
Apostolos Doxiadis
This novel, recently (2000) translated from Greek, follows the attempts of fictional mathematician Petros Papachristos to prove Goldbach's Conjecture (that every even number greater than two is the sum... (more)
Verrechnet (2009)
Carl Djerassi/Isabella Gregor
With the help of playwright/director Isabella Gregor, Djerassi updated his play Calculus (Newton's Whores). The plot still revolves around the question of priority on the invention of calculus, and especially... (more)
Waiting for Citizen Gödel (2005)
Howard V. Hendrix
Short story revolving around Godel's application for US citizenship. There is a well-known episode from Godel's life, where Einstein and Oscar Morgenstern took Godel for his citizenship oath. Godel,... (more)
War and Peace (1869)
Lev Tolstoy
Tolstoy's famous novel about...well, about war and peace (!) contains long passages explaining an analogy he makes between history and calculus. In particular, he argues that we should view history as... (more)
The Weight of Numbers (2006)
Simon Ings
This is an ambitious novel which attempts to be as overwhelming as Pynchon, to deconstruct what it means to be human like Vonnegut and to tie together bits of history like Forrest Gump. For a few readers,... (more)
Whom the gods love: The story of Evariste Galois (1948)
Leopold Infeld
A fictionalized biography of the ill-fated originator of group theory written by a collaborator of Einstein (better known today for his joint work with Max Born on electrodynamics). “No professor... (more)
The World as I Found It (1987)
Bruce Duffy
A fictionalized "biography" of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein including a portrayal of Bertrand Russell. "Very enjoyable, but barely scratches the surface of Wittgenstein's life, work, and character... (more)
The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
Kim Stanley Robinson
This alternative history is based on the assumption that the Great Plague of the 1300s that decimated Europe's population was much worse, and that it in fact led to the extinction of almost all of... (more)
Zéro, ou les Cinq vies d'Aemer (2005)
Denis Guedj
This novel traces the history of the number `zero' through the lives of five different women, living in five different eras, but all living in the same place: Mesopotamia/Iraq. Guedj is already known... (more)

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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)