MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Genre=Humorous

228 matches found out of 1153 entries

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

1 to 999 (1981)
Isaac Asimov
When cryptologists try to break a simple code, one of the key clues is the frequency with which letters appear. In English, the letter "a" is one of the most frequently used letters. It is therefore... (more)
1963 (1993)
Alan Moore
A six-issue series, one of the best of the retro comics out there. this is Moore's ingenious pastiche of Marvel comics in the critical (for Marvel and for the world) year 1963. Strange things... (more)
2+2=5 (2006)
Rudy Rucker / Terry Bisson
A retired insurance adjuster and a math professor who was fired for telling his students that there are "holes" in the number line pass the time by trying to break a world record for counting. To achieve... (more)
A. Botts and the Moebius Strip (1945)
William Hazlett Upson
William Hazlett Upson wrote a series of pieces for the Saturday Evening Post about a salesman for The Earthworm Tractor Company, written as a dialog of letters and memos between Alexander Botts and his... (more)
Actuarial / The Paradox Paradox (2010)
Buzz Mauro
These two extremely short stories by Mauro, part of his thesis project which consisted entirely of original works of mathematical fiction, appeared in the December 2010 issue of Prime Number Magazine. Actuarial... (more)
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)
After Math (1997)
Highly Rated!
Miriam Webster
The ghost of math professor Ray Bellwether tries to solve the mystery of his own murder in this `first novel' by Amy Babich (Webster is just a pseudonym). Babich has a Ph.D. in mathematics (and a Master's... (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)
Albert's Bridge (1967)
Tom Stoppard
A radio play about a philosophy graduate student who gets a job painting the Clufton Bay Bridge. It takes him and three other workers exactly two years to paint the entire bridge, at which time they must... (more)
Aleph Sub One (1948)
Margaret St. Clair
This is a little known story by a well known author from the Golden Age of Science Fiction. The math content is high, and it's a good story, definitely belongs on your Mathematical Fiction page. From... (more)
And Be a Villain (1948)
Rex Stout
Rex Stout and his seventy some Nero Wolfe novels are generally regarded as amongst the greatest mystery novels ever written. They read as fresh today as when the series started in 1934, and they... (more)
And He Built a Crooked House (1940)
Highly Rated!
Robert A. Heinlein
A clever architect designs a house in the shape of the shadow of a tesseract, but it collapses (through the 4th dimension) when an earthquake shakes it into a more stable form (which takes up very... (more)
An Angel of Obedience (2010)
John Giessmann
Due to his new obsession with fractal geometry, thirteen year-old prodigy Jackson Carter has just ended an illustrious career as a classical musician and enrolled as a math major at Harvard. There he... (more)
Annals of Klepsis (1983)
R.A. Lafferty
A wacky sci-fi adventure comedy featuring space pirates. There is not much math in the book, but the central plot revolves around a mathematical ``doomsday equation'' and the goal of preventing the horrible... (more)
Art Thou Mathematics? (1978)
Highly Rated!
Charles Mobbs
Short story (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, October 1978 Vol. 98 No 10) concerning the very nature of mathematical discovery. It was later rewritten in the form of a play, which the author has... (more)
The Atrocity Archives (2004)
Highly Rated!
Charles Stross
"The Laundry" is a British spy organization which is responsible for suppressing certain dangerous math research. The occult implications of mathematics became clear with Alan Turing's paper "Phase Conjugate... (more)
Back to Methuselah (1921)
George Bernard Shaw
In this not-very-stageable play in five parts, Shaw expounds on mankind and the theory of evolution, from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to a paradise world 30,000 years in the future. It turns... (more)
Barking (2007)
Tom Holt
Duncan Hughes has had a rather monotonous and trite career as an estate and tax lawyer when suddenly werewolves, vampires, zombies, and one impossibly alluring unicorn, along with his ex-wife and his old... (more)
The Barking Clock (1947)
Harry Stephen Keeler / Hazel Goodwin Keeler
Tuddleton T. Trotter, author of a book which claims that all criminal mysteries can be solved mathematically, has only hours to save Joe Czeszczicki, a death row inmate soon to be electrocuted for the... (more)
Been a long, long time (1970)
R.A. Lafferty
It's a very well-written humorous tale (as expected if you're familiar with Lafferty). The mathematical content is a literal interpretation of the six typing monkeys. The angel Boshel, as a punishment,... (more)
The Better Mousetrap (2008)
Tom Holt
The Better Mousetrap is the fifth book in Tom Holt's series that began with The Portable Door. The first four books told the adventures of Paul Carpenter, a fairly boring nobody who joined the... (more)
Bianca (1984)
Nanni Moretti (director and screenplay)
A math teacher (played by Nanni Moretti himself) has odd obsessions and compulsions in this film, including his crush on colleague Bianca. Although his anti-social behavior seems to be destroying his... (more)
Bill, the Galactic Hero (1965)
Harry Harrison
The famed parody of Asimov and Heinlein. Amongst other issues, the book asks what happens to all the garbage from a one city planet (a la Trantor from FOUNDATION)? It seems to be a losing ... (more)
The Birds (BC414)
Aristophanes
In one scene of this classic Greek play, the geometer Meton appears and...well, it's pretty short. So why should I summarize it when I can simply reproduce it here! (Enter METON, With surveying... (more)
Borzag and the Numerical Apocalypse (2006)
Jason Earls
I must warn you that I am a trained mathematician, but NOT a trained expert on literature. Among other consequences, this means that I sometimes have trouble telling the difference between brilliant,... (more)
Calculated Magic (1995)
Robert Weinberg
In this sequel to A Logical Magician, the mathematically trained wizard's assistant returns to fight evil monsters in Vegas and save his fiance (Merlin's daughter) from Hell. I do like the idea that... (more)
Calculating God (2000)
Robert J. Sawyer
Though it is considerably less mathematical than Factoring Humanity, it holds together a bit better as a novel. Here, we encounter aliens who view the existence of god (a creator of the universe) as a... (more)
Calculus and Pizza (2003)
Clifford Pickover
A pizza chef teaches calculus to his restaurant patrons. Romance and hilarity ensue. (more)
Cardano and the Case of the Cubic (2005)
Jeff Adams
This parody of early 20th century "Hard Boiled Private Detective" novels is instead a short story about 16th century mathematician Gerolamo Cardano. Its opening paragraphs clearly set the tone: It... (more)
The Case of the Flying Hands (2001)
Harry Stephen Keeler / Hazel Goodwin Keeler
Quiribus Brown, a 7 1/2 foot tall man raised on a farm by a retired mathematician who taught him nothing but math, must solve four crimes using mathematics or be imprisoned on charges of perjury by his... (more)
The Cat in Numberland (2006)
Ivar Ekeland (author) / John O'Brien (illustrator)
This picture book uses the idea of a hotel with infintely many rooms for introducing some advanced concepts about numbers and infinity to children. The hotel, run in the book by "Mr. and Mrs. Hilbert",... (more)
The Center of the Universe (2005)
Alex Kasman
This short story was intended to serve two different purposes. On the one hand it is a glimpse into the lives and interactions of mathematics graduate students. And, on the other, it addresses the philosophical... (more)
The Chair of Philanthromathematics (1908)
O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)
Jeff Peters and Andy Tucker, con men in the O. Henry stories collected in this volume, are a bit uncomfortable after scoring a really big scam. So they ... (more)
Chronicles of a Comer (1972)
K.M O'Donnell (aka Barry N. Malzberg)
A short story about a statistician who believes in the second coming of Christ and looks for it in the statistical correlations between the events and people's reactions to those events (e.g. "14%... (more)
The Circle of Zero (1936)
Stanley G. Weinbaum
Thanks to Vijay Fafat for pointing out this story (with only a little math in it). A character speculates that the laws of probability predict that anything will happen in an infinite amount of time,... (more)
Coconuts (1926)
Ben Ames Williams
The story is a very nicely written tale of one man, Wadlin, whose only passion in life is mathematics - numbers, puzzles, Diophantine equations ("indeterminates"), statistics. As the author describes... (more)
The Coincidence Engine (2011)
Sam Leith
A tongue-in-cheek, easy-read, quite enjoyable romp of a story about a reclusive mathematician named “Bancharski”, a play on the names of mathematicians Banach and Tarski (unfortunately, Banach-Tarski... (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)
The Cyberiad (1967)
Stanislaw Lem
I was perusing your site and I happened to think of a great addition to your list. It's by Polish philosopher Stanislaw Lem and called "The Cyberiad". It's about the adventures of two super "inventors"... (more)
The Dark Side of the Sun (1976)
Terry Pratchett
This humorous science fiction novel tells the tale of Dom Salabos, who believes he is destined to become "Chairman of the Board of Widdershins and heir to riches untold", but his allies familiar with p-math... (more)
De Impossibilitate Vitae and Prognoscendi (1971)
Highly Rated!
Stanislaw Lem
This is a philosophical discourse (intended as a parody, but I swear I've read serious papers that were very much like it) in which the author argues that probablity theory makes no sense since it is... (more)
A Deadly Medley of Smedley (2003)
Feargus Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Paradox Patrol officer Julie Anne Callender, with the help of her brother Gregorian and her uncle Newgate, track down yet again the timecrime master of evil Smedley Faversham (and atrocious punmeister)... (more)
Dear Dumb Diary Year Two #1: School. Hasn't This Gone on Long Enough? (2012)
Jim Benton
An extremely witty, funny look at the psychology of a second-grader who hates mathematics. As she records her thoughts in her diary, you see glimpses of daily issues which irk and stagger a young child.... (more)
Delicious Rivers (2006)
Ellen Maddow
This collage of absurd and entertaining scenes at a NYC post office (and the music and choreography to which they are performed) were all inspired by the mathematics of Penrose Tilings. In particular,... (more)
A Deprogrammer's Tale (2000)
Colin Adams
This spoof presents the attempts of math professors to convince students to become math majors and the subsequent interest of those students in math as if it were a religious cult. Told from the point... (more)
The Devil a Mathematician Would Be (1962)
A.J. Lohwater
This clever short story that captures the feeling of a math problem that "gets under your skin" was printed in The Mathematical Magpie and was said to have been "collected" by A.J. Lohwater. Well, I... (more)
The Devil and Simon Flagg (1954)
Highly Rated!
Arthur Porges
Mathematicians know the feeling of trying to prove something you really believe to be true, but has never been proven. There is pleasure in doing this, like solving a puzzle, but also frustration and... (more)
The Devil and the Lady (1930)
Alfred Tennyson
Although first published in 1930, this humorous and beautifully worded play was written by the famous poet more than 100 years earlier when he was less than 14 years old. One character is a mathematician... (more)
The Devil You Don't (1970)
Keith Laumer
The devil (who is not such a bad guy after all) seeks help from a quantum physics expert to fight off some aliens (who are not so evil either) that happen to disrupt the "Randomness Field". This disruption... (more)
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams is best known for his wacky Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. But his two Dirk Gently novels, while maintaining Adams' characteristic high wackiness, also carry ... (more)
Do the Math: A Novel of the Inevitable (2008)
Philip Persinger
A math graduate student becomes an intern for a math professor famous for his `theory of inevitability' but ends up also helping his wife (an even more famous author of romance novels) write a book using... (more)
Doing our Babbage (1992)
Ira Slobodien
The mind of 19th century mathematician Charles Babbage is brought back to life in electronic/mechanical form, becomes involved in a kinky "love rectangle" with the three scientists responsible (two women... (more)
Don Juan oder die Liebe zur Geometrie (1953)
Max Frisch
In this German play, sometimes presented in English translation as "Don Juan or the Love of Geometry", the famous lover explains to the audience that the other authors who have written about him have gotten it all wrong; it is mathematics and not women that he truly loves. Thanks to Thorben Brunschütte for bringing this work of mathematical fiction to my attention. (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)
The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (1963)
Norton Juster
This picture book describes the love story of two geometrical figures. It was also made into a cartoon by Chuck Jones (available on YouTube). I have loved this book ever since my wonderful mathematical... (more)
Dude, can you count? (2010)
Christian Constanda
Utilizing the entertaining contrivance of an extraterrestrial who visits human math conferences to evaluate our intelligence, Constanda tells us what he thinks is wrong with math education today. Following... (more)
Erasmus with Freckles [aka Dear Brigitte] (1963)
John Haase
The novel Erasmus with Freckles (1963) about a college English professor who hates math and science whose son is a math prodigy, was adapted into the film Dear Brigitte (1965) and re-released as a novel... (more)
Euclid and His Modern Rivals (1879)
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll)
I have long known that mathematician Charles Dodgson, who wrote the famous Alice stories under the pseudonym "Lewis Carroll", also wrote a book defending Euclid's ancient text as the best for teaching... (more)
Evil Genius (2005)
Catherine Jinks
I am pleased to report that the titular "evil genius" in this children's novel is not the stereotypical cold mathematician in so many other works of mathematical fiction. In fact, the title character... (more)
A Fable for Moderns (1955)
Lord Dunsany
A bank employee becomes bored with the restrictions of arithmetic and decides to let his mathematical computations enjoy the freedom of "modern" poets and artists. Although he loses his job at the bank,... (more)
Family Ties (Episode: My Tutor) (1985)
Jace Richdale (Screenplay) / Sam Weisman (Director)
I'm writing to bring your attention to a television episode for possible addition to your mathematical fiction website. The television show is "Family Ties" and the episode is entitled, "My Tutor".... (more)
The Favor (1994)
Donald Petrie (Director) / Sara Parriott (Writer) / Josann McGibbon (Writer)
A romantic comedy in which a woman married to a math professor wonders what it would have been like to have been with her old boyfriend and so convinces her girlfriend to sleep with him and report back.... (more)
The Fermata (1994)
Nicholson Baker
This book is certainly more about sex than it is about mathematics. However, I find the one mathematical passage in it so hilarious that I have to include it here. The premise of the book is that the... (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)
Flatterland: like Flatland, only more so (2001)
Highly Rated!
Ian Stewart
In this "sequel" to Flatland, popular mathematics writer Ian Stewart lets us accompany the granddaugther of the original "A. Square" who starred in original classic, as she learns about fractal dimensions,... (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)
A Foundation in Wisdom (2012)
Robert Loyd Watson
A hitchhiker named Sheridan captivates the man kind enough to offer him a ride with fantastic tales of the Roman village of Ebon and the hero named Marcus who saved it from a giant dachshund named Dachy. Both... (more)
Four Brands of Impossible (1964)
Norman Kagan
In the futuristic 1980's, a math student graduates from multiversity and gets a job with a megacorporation which is trying to do the impossible, literally. Along with his friends (a psychologist and an... (more)
The Four-Color Problem (1971)
Barrington J. Bayley
A story written in a psychedelic, stream-of-consciousness style a la William S. Burroughs concerning the discovery of previously unknown countries on the Earth whose existence provides a counter-example... (more)
A Frayed Knot (2009)
Felix Culp
Culp takes a classic mystery by Poe and retells it with knotted ropes taking the place of people. For example: Tyler Trefoil was a Bowline knot....Salty-fibered seafaring knots such as Trefoil - as... (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)
Futurama (TV Series) (1999)
David S. Cohen (David X. Cohen) / Ken Keeler / Jeff Westbrook
Another Matt Groening cartoon TV show (like the Simpsons) that includes many mathematical "in jokes". The website simpsonsmath.com/futuramamath includes discussion of these jokes and the mathematical... (more)
G103 (2006)
Highly Rated!
Oliver Tearne (director)
This short film "shows a surreal day in the life of a mathematics undergraduate" taking the math course G103 at the University of Warwick. In fact, the Website makes it sound as if it is an informational... (more)
The Gangs of New Math (2005)
Robert W. Vallin
This humorous short story about a brawl in a pub of mathematicians appeared in the November 2005 issue of Math Horizons magazine. There is quite a bit of "mathematical name-dropping" in the form of quick... (more)
Genghis Khan and 888 (2005)
Jason Earls
As one might guess from the title of the literary journal in which it was published ("Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens #4"), this story is a bit strange. According to the author, it is absurdist... (more)
The Geometrics of Johnny Day (1941)
Nelson Bond
Old MacDonald had a firm, and in that firm he had a young mathematician who wanted to win his daughter's hand in marriage. MacDonald was skeptical: ""Ye want a job, eh? And just what is it that ye... (more)
Getaway from Getawehi (1969)
Colin Kapp
Colin Kapp has written a few stories which have some good, hard SF mixed up with highly tongue-in-cheek, believable flights of fancy. The present story is set on the single planet, Getawehi, of a rogue... (more)
Getting Rid of Fluff (1908)
Ellis Parker Butler
A humorous story in which two men formulate a mathematical "law of scared dogs" to help in frightening away an annoying dog named Fluff. "I bet if Sir Isaac Newon had had Fluff as long as you have had... (more)
The Gigantic Fluctuation (1973)
Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
This is an oddly funny story about a man who becomes the "focus point of all miracles in the world", a "gigantic fluctuation". He somehow appears to attract extremely improbably but possible statistical... (more)
The Girl with the Celestial Limb (1990)
Pauline Melville
Although recognized as mathematically talented in school, Jane Cole hid from all things intellectual after having a frightening epiphany regarding infinity. Math, however, seemingly exacts its revenge... (more)
The Givenchy Code (2005)
Julie Kenner
You've got to love the tag lines for this book: "A heel-breaking adventure in code-breaking that will bring out the math geek and the fashionista in you". "Cryptography is the new black". A woman with... (more)
The Gold at Starbow's End (aka Starburst / aka Alpha Aleph) (1972)
Frederik Pohl
A short story based on an interesting premise that at some point in the (near) future, mankind will stop making interesting, fundamental discoveries because we have too much knowledge and too much apparatus... (more)
Goldman's Theorem (2009)
R.J. Stern
Hired by the little-known "University of Northern Vermont", Professor Goldman does not seem to be living up to his promise as a great math researcher. Under pressure from his superiors, he claims to have... (more)
Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
Highly Rated!
Thomas Pynchon
In this novel "there's "mathematicians' graffiti" and a lot of musing on the Poisson-curve. See, for ex. page 140 in the Pengiun 20th century classics edition. I was impressed with Pynchon's... (more)
Gulliver's Travels (1726)
Jonathan Swift
If you are lucky enough to find an unabridged version of Swift's classic book, you will be able to read (among descriptions of the people of many other unbelievable countries) about the people of Laputa.... (more)
Harvey Plotter and the Circle of Irrationality (2011)
Nathan Carter / Dan Kalman
Harvey Plotter, who has a scar shaped like a radical sign on his forehead, must find all of the rational points on the circularum unititatus before the evil Lord Voldemorphism. The reader follows... (more)
Hilbert's Hotel (1999)
Ian Stewart
Another take on the idea (attributed to lectures by David Hilbert) that the bizarre properties of the countably infinite can best be presented through the analogy of a hotel. Here, Mr. and Mrs. Smith... (more)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
Douglas Adams
Everyone ought to read this trilogy of four (or is it five now?) books that brilliantly combine science fiction with the drollest of British humor. Despite my high regard for it, I've not added it to... (more)
The Holmes-Ginsbook Device (1969)
Isaac Asimov
A scientist recounts how, stung by his former professor hogging all the credit for figuring out a way to safely light cigarettes and girlwatch at the same time, he and ... (more)
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010)
Charles Yu
Fans of mathematical fiction are likely to love the self-referential nature of this novel about a time-machine repairman whose future self travels back in time to give him a novel about a time-machine... (more)
I of Newton (1970)
Joe Haldeman
In this short story a mathematics professor accidentally summons a demon by cursing while working on a problem involving integration. The devil brags that he is able to disprove Fermat's last theorem,... (more)
L' idée fixe du Savant Cosinus (1899)
Christophe -- Georges Colomb
This humorous and profusely illustrated French book is considered to be an early example of what we might today call a "comic book". Cosinus is a mathematician who desperately wants to travel around... (more)
The Imaginary Number (1956)
Yizhak Oren
In this peculiar and humorous story, a complete stranger shows up at physicist Benjamin's door, with an imaginary tale of their childhood friendship, marriage to twin sisters, and his deed to certain... (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)
Incomplete Proofs (2012)
John Chu
This unusual piece combines equal parts fashion industry and math research, with a dash of fantasy and just a pinch of homo-eroticism. Grant does a favor for his old partner, Duncan, by modeling his new... (more)
The Indefatigable Frog (1953)
Philip K. Dick
A parody of science utilizing the old "Zeno's Paradox". Originally appeared in Fantastic Story Magazine (July 1953) and republished recently in The Ascent of Wonder. (more)
The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells (Episode: The Truth about Pyecraft) (2001)
Chris Harrald (Script) / Clive Exton (Script) / Herbert George Wells (story)
Please correct me if I'm mistaken here, but it seems that the 2001 TV miniseries The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells took the story ``The Truth about Pyecraft'', which has no math in it, and made the main... (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)
Inquirendo Island (1886)
Hudor Genone
A very long, thinly disguised satire on sectarian splits in Religion, fairly nicely written. A man lost at sea is ship-wrecked on an island called “Inquirendo Island”, probably a sarcastic aside... (more)
Inside Out (1987)
Rudy Rucker
The story itself is quite disturbing IMO but has the usual zaniness of his other writings. Features quarks as "hypertoroidal vortex rings/loops of superstring", a "cumberquark", "hypertorii with fuzzy... (more)
The Integral: A Horror Story (2009)
Colin Adams
This story, which he claims is an attempt to emulate Stephen King, is different from many of Adams' others. This may explain why it was published for the first time in his 2009 collections Riot at the... (more)
Into Thin Air (2000)
Colin Adams
This was the first of Colin Adams' ``Mathematically Bent'' columns for the Mathematical Intelligencer, published back in Vol.22, No. 1, 2000. It combines many of the analogies between mountain climbing... (more)
Izzy at the Lucky Three (1996)
Eliot Fintushel
There are two kinds of weird: good weird and bad weird. This story is the third kind. I mean, what can you say about a story in which the Yiddishe mystic Izzy encounters the demon spirit who created... (more)
Jack and the Aktuals, or, Physical Applications of Transfinite Set Theory (2008)
Rudy Rucker
As the title suggests, the seemingly completely abstract Continuum Hypothesis is found to be manifested in the physical universe in this bizarre short story. It is very similar in feel and content to... (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 Geometries (1997)
Marta Sved
It is styled after a frequently-used device: "Alice in X", where X can be any kind of space which you wish to explain to the gentle reader. In this instance, Alice, along with Lewis Carroll and a Doctor... (more)
Journey to the Center of Mathematics (2006)
Colin Adams
A parody of the classic Jules Verne tale, which reads like what Woody Allen would have written if he had taken math instead of philosophy at NYU: The next day, we booked travel on a steamer across the... (more)
A Killer Theorem (2007)
Colin Adams
Mangum, P.I. returns in this mystery in which the unproven Gauss' Last Lemma is wielded as a murder weapon. Apparently, a certain approach to proving it is so enticing that merely showing it to mathematicians... (more)
The Killion (1982)
Ian Frazier
Fans of Monty Python will recall the joke so funny that anyone who reads it dies laughing. Frazier brings us the mathematical analogue: a number so big that it kills anyone who tries to think about it.... (more)
Kim Possible (Episode: Mathter and Fervent) (2007)
Jim Peronto (script)
This episode of the Disney animated TV series "Kim Possible" is a comic book parody featuring a mathematical villain. As an English assignment, Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable have to write a paper... (more)
The Law (1947)
Robert M. Coates
In this story, the "law of averages" ceases to apply (so that, for instance, everyone in Manhattan decides to drive across the Triborough Bridge on the same evening). As a result, it is necessary for... (more)
Le théorème de Travolta (2002)
Olivier Courcelle
The adventures of a young mathematician trapped in the curious and delirious world of a mathematical congress. A cross between David Lodge and Groucho Marx. I believe it has not been translated into english (but should) Very funny description of the mathematical world. Excellently written. Delirious. (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)
The Legend of Howard Thrush (2005)
Alex Kasman
I always have enjoyed the American folk tale, a medium in which one pretends to be speaking earnestly and in all sincerity about a history so ridiculous that it it simply cannot be taken seriously. There... (more)
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759)
Laurence Sterne
Michele Benzi wrote to recommend that I add this classic novel, which was critically praised when it first appeared and then fell in esteem due to accusations of plagiarism. Benzi writes: I was surprised... (more)
life.exe (2006)
Jason Rogers
This work of fiction is not strictly narrative. It is hard to say what is happening since the characters live in the world of "the matrix". Not like the Wachowski Bros.'s epic trilogy of films (though... (more)
Little People (2002)
Tom Holt
Tom Holt is generally considered one of the masters of comic fantasy. His humour is apparently too British, though, since he hasn't had an American publisher for quite some time. The British-only... (more)
The Long Chalkboard (2006)
Jenny Allen / Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)
Allen's book is a collection of three short-short stories spread out over book length with illustrations on every page, in the usual style of children's literature, complete with charmingly simple... (more)
Luck be a Lady (2009)
Dean Wesley Smith
A seriously bizarre story about how Laverne, the Goddess of Luck, has gone missing, and superheroes Poker Boy, Front Desk Lady, and Screamer go looking for her, only to discover that the Bookkeeper... (more)
Magic Squares (1977)
Paul Calter
A very unconventionally written mystery story full of well placed and well-integrated problems in mathematics, which makes this a great book to be included in a course on ‘mathematics in literature’.... (more)
Mangum, P.I. (2004)
Colin Adams
A parody of the hard-boiled private detective genre in which ``P.I.'' stands for ``Principal Investigator'', a phrase familiar to anyone who has applied for a research grant. In this hilarious story,... (more)
Math Curse (1995)
Highly Rated!
Jon Scieszka / Lane Smith (illustrator)
In this children's picture book, the main character finds that "anything can be a math problem" when her elementary school teacher puts a math curse on her. For example: Unfortunately for me, LUNCH... (more)
Math Patrol (1977)
Highly Rated!
TV Ontario
"Math Patrol was a 15-minute long educational TV series produced in the late 1970s by TV Ontario about the adventures of a secret agent named "Sydney" who dressed up as a kangaroo with a blue trenchcoat.... (more)
Math Takes a Holiday (2001)
Paul Di Filippo
Saint Hubert and Saint Barbara, the two patron saints of mathematics, pay a visit to a devout Catholic mathematics professor who has been praying for a mathematical miracle to silence his mockers.... (more)
Mathematical R & D (1979)
Paul J. Nahin
This short short story, published in the professional journal IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems describes a talk by the (fictional) famous mathematician Professor Osgood. Greatly limited... (more)
Mathematically Bent (2000)
Colin Adams
Geometer and knot-theorist Colin Adams (Williams College, MA) has been writing this short, mathematically-wise and bitingly funny column in the quarterly issues of The Mathematical Intelligencer since... (more)
Mathematician Proof (1920)
Ralph Ellison de Castro
An utterly trite story about a genius of a mathematician (aren’t they all? To wit, “he had the binomial theorem for breakfast, lunched on integral calculus and for his evening meal considered attempts... (more)
The Mathematician’s Nightmare: The Vision of Professor Squarepunt (1954)
Bertrand Russell
This short story by [renowned philosopher and mathematician Bertrand] Russell is a mild satire on numerology, taking [Sir Arthur] Eddington’s obsession with it and spinning it as a “nightmare”... (more)
Mathematicians in Love (2006)
Rudy Rucker
Together, two math grad students who are both in love with the same girl prove a theorem which characterizes all dynamical systems (from the stock market to the motion of particles) in terms of objects... (more)
The Mathematicians of Grizzly Drive (1988)
Josef Skvorecky
A detective story, in the "hard boiled" genre, featuring Eve Adam, a sexy nightclub performer who solves crimes in her free time. In this story, she visits a house where mathematicians gather to entertain... (more)
The Mathematics of Magic (1940)
L. Sprague de Camp / Fletcher Pratt
The "Enchanter Stories" by de Camp and Pratt are a very popular series of SF/fantasy stories whose protagonist, Harold Shea, is able to travel to other universes using symbolic logic. "The Mathematics... (more)
Mathematics of the Heart (2011)
Kefi Chadwick (playwright) / Donnacadh O’Briain (director)
An expert on the mathematics of chaos theory deals with chaos in his own life in the form of a girlfriend seeking commitment, a brother crashing in his apartment, and a new graduate student. I have not seen this play, but have only run across notices announcing its production at the Brighton Fringe festival in 2011. Additional information about the play would be most appreciated. (more)
The Mathenauts (1964)
Highly Rated!
Norman Kagan
A hilarious story that plays with the mind-blowing idea that it may not be that mathematics describes reality, but instead that reality is mathematics. In the future presented by this story, only those... (more)
Mathmakers (1978)
TV Ontario
Canadian television show (circa 1978) about making a television show. Humorous story lines illustrate mathematical concepts. "The program was developed and produced by TVOntario in 1978. Each episode... (more)
MathNet (1987)
Highly Rated!
Childrens Television Workshop
A children's TV show in which mysteries are solved using mathematics. The suspects and victims always ask the investigators "Are you the police?" To which they reply "No, we're mathematicians!"... (more)
Message Found in a Copy of Flatland (1983)
Rudy Rucker
This is the story that answers the age old question: "What if Flatland was in the basement of a Pakistani restaurant in London?". The answer is scarier than you might think, especially when you realize... (more)
Midtown Pythagoras (2007)
Michael Brodsky
Michael Brodsky is a deconstructionist's dream writer, which for most people, simply means utterly unreadable. His many novels, stories, and plays inhabit a world where meaning is just past the reader's... (more)
Monday Begins on Saturday (1966)
Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
In this parody of the activity at Soviet research thinktanks, mathematics underlies the "science" of magic. Math is rarely discussed in depth and a knowledge of Russian fairy tales helps the reader to... (more)
Monster (2005)
Alex Kasman
A story about group theory, plagiarism, the untapped potential of a collaboration between mathematics and marketing, the bleak financial future of academia, and the Monster. This story talks about... (more)
Monster's Proof (2009)
Richard Lewis
With parents and a younger brother who are all "mathematical geniuses", Livey Ell (who is in danger of getting kicked out of cheerleading unless she improves her algebra grades) is a bit too normal. Things... (more)
Mother's Milk (2005)
Highly Rated!
Andrew Thomas Breslin
Lawyer Cindy Kichlklug takes on the dairy industry (with the aid of a quirky mathematician) in this witty SF satire. The "conspiracy theory" in the book is well put together. It tightly combines so... (more)
Ms Fnd in a Lbry (1961)
Hal Draper
Hal Draper took a break from his life's work of promoting Marxism, and wrote one science fiction story. The information explosion, and associated storage and retrieval problems, is humorously examined in... (more)
Mulligan Stew (1979)
Gilbert Sorrentino
An avant garde novel, or a parody of one, presented in the form of a collection of letters, notes, papers and other writings. Includes Cardano's formula, plus a full length parody of a mathematics research... (more)
Multi-Colored Dome (1987)
Martin Gardner
A light-hearted, short story about a shy but precocious Math student working on symbolic logic (“he had read “Principia Mathematica” when he was in high school, and understood it, too”). Thesis... (more)
The Murdered Mathematician (1949)
Harry Stephen Keeler
This book is probably the least believable thing I've ever read, but lots of fun! Quiribus Brown is a 7 1/2 foot tall man who was raised by his father on a farm in Indiana. His father was a math professor... (more)
Naked Came the Post-modernist (2013)
Sarah Lawrence College Writing Class WRIT-3303-R / Melvin Jules Bukiet
Written as a group project by the students in a creative writing class at Sarah Lawrence College, this wacky academic farce takes the form of a whodunit, trying to identify the murderer of a math professor. (more)
Nanny and the Professor (TV Series) (1970)
AJ Carothers (creator) / Thomas L. Miller (creator)
A handsome math professor gets the help of a magical British nanny in raising his adorable kids in this early '70's sit-com. I actually used to watch this show when I was a little kid, but had completely... (more)
Narrow Valley (1966)
R.A. Lafferty
This is a madcap story about a tract of land which is topologically folded through a shamanic incantation. Contains descriptions of some physical effects but explicitly states that the topological defect... (more)
Naturally (Double Whammy) (1954)
Fredric Brown
Fredric Brown, a prolific and acclaimed writer of mystery and science fiction stories and novels, was an extraordinary master of the short-short. "Naturally" is a one-pager about Henry... (more)
The Needle in a Haystack (2002)
Tom DeMarco
A pretty funny, silly story about a tailor with a mathematical bent who loses a needle in a haystack. Quite despondent about his chances of finding it, he decides to be mathematically rigorous in his... (more)
A New Golden Age (1981)
Rudy Rucker
In this story, and in our world as well, mathematicians lament the fact that legislators cannot sufficiently appreciate mathematics and that this adversely affects the funding of their science. To address this... (more)
The New Tales of the Absent-Minded Master (1971)
Vladimir Levshin
This is the third in the Master of the Absent-Minded Sciences trilogy. The third book is about the two investigating the stealing of a very valuable stamp. It ends with the promise of further adventures, but the author never wrote them. Levshin's beloved children's books have never been translated into English, but can be read in Russian at lib.rus.ec. (more)
No-Sided Professor (1946)
Highly Rated!
Martin Gardner
We all know that among the surprising things you learn when you first make a Mobius strip is the fact that out of a two sided piece of paper you can make an object with only one side. Why should this... (more)
Numbercruncher (2013)
Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
A recently deceased mathematician "cracks the recirculation algorithm" and thus is able to control his own reincarnation in the hope of being able to spend more time with the woman he loves. It ends up... (more)
Numberland (1987)
George Weinberg
The co-author (with John Schumaker) of STATISTICS: AN INTUITIVE APPROACH, and practicing psychotherapist, tells a charming little fable about Numberland. Peace, harmony,... (more)
Numbers Don't Lie (2005)
Terry Bisson
This novel is actually just a compilation of three Wilson Wu short stories ("The Hole in the Hole", "The Edge of the Universe" and "Get Me to the Church on Time") which were previously published in Asimov's... (more)
Numbers in the Dark (La notte dei numeri) (1990)
Italo Calvino
A boy looking around the huge office building where his mother works meets an old accountant who now works with computers but reveals to him an undiscovered arithmetic error made back in one of the company's... (more)
Nymphomation (2000)
Highly Rated!
Jeff Noon
A math professor's theory of ``nymphomation'' (described in the book as a way for numbers to mate) is used to develop a lottery game called "Domino Bones" that entirely takes over the city of Manchester,... (more)
Odds Against Tomorrow (2013)
Nathaniel Rich
Mitchell Zukor is a statistician and probabilist whose area of expertise is the prediction of disasters. To many people, including the reporter/narrator, this makes him a humorous and pathetic number... (more)
Odile (1937)
Raymond Queneau
A humorous semi-autobiographical novel by this famous, French, surrealistic author. Queneau seems to have had some training as a mathematician and was friends with several leading French mathematicians.... (more)
Off Day! (1953)
Al Feldstein (writer)/ Jack Kamen (artist)
Believe it or not, this Weird Science story is essentially a lecture on the law of large numbers. A very worried college professor tells his class he's just witnessed the failure of one of the most... (more)
On the Quantum Theoretic Implications of Newton's Alchemy (2007)
Highly Rated!
Alex Kasman
A postdoc at the mysterious "Institute for Mathematical Analysis and Quantum Chemistry" is surprised to learn that his work on Riemann-Hilbert Problems is being used as part of his employer's crazy alchemy... (more)
The Pacifist (1966)
Arthur C. Clarke
Clarke, one of the all-time biggest names in serious science fiction, took time to write a series of humorous science fiction tall tales. The stories are narrated by one Harry ... (more)
The Papers of A.J. Wentworth, B.A. (1949)
Humphry Francis Ellis
This is a humorous book about A J Wentworth, school master at a British school, who teaches Algebra to 11-13 year old children. The entire novel has a touch of Wodehouse to it as it follows the bumbling... (more)
Paul Bunyan versus the Conveyor Belt (1949)
William Hazlett Upson
A clever "twist" on the usual Mobius band story. Answers the age old question: How can you win lots of money betting against poor saps who don't understand topology? I use this story with children... (more)
The Phantom Tollbooth (1961)
Norton Juster / Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)
This "Alice in Wonderland"-esque children's book follows our hero, Milo, to the fantasy world through his toy tollbooth. One of the lands he visits is very "mathematical". We meet the dodecahedron,... (more)
PopCo (2004)
Highly Rated!
Scarlett Thomas
Alice was raised by her grandparents, a mathematician and a cryptographer, and now uses what she learned from them to make mathematical puzzles for children. Her employer, the giant toy company "PopCo",... (more)
Post-Bombum [aka Post-Boomboom] (1967)
Alberto Vanasco
Argentinian author and math professor Alberto Vanasco wrote this short story about post-apocalyptic survivors trying to record keys to civilization, and failing miserably. (Thanks to Vijay Fafat for bringing... (more)
The Princess Hoppy or the Tale of Labrador (1993)
Jacques Roubaud
French mathematician Jacques Roubaud, member of the Oulipo group, wrote this bizarre, postmodern, fairy tale which is decidedly for adults rather than for children. According to the cover, The tale... (more)
Probability Storm (1977)
Julian Reid
Julian Reid takes the concept of statistical anomalies to a fantastic extreme in a slapstick fantasy comedy written in a very witty and conversational style, replete with puns and smart-cracks. A tavern... (more)
Problems for Self-Study (2002)
Charles Yu
The life of a mathematical physicist -- from earning his PhD, through marriage, fatherhood and into a midlife crisis -- presented in the form of homework exercises from a math book. We first meet... (more)
Professor Morgan's Moon (1899)
Stanley Waterloo
A young mathematician asks for the hand of a senior mathematician's beautiful (and clever) daughter, but is refused on the grounds that his inability to support her financially was a mathematical certainty.... (more)
A Proof of God (2004)
Colin Adams
A mathematician is approached by a seemingly crazy old man who claims to have a proof of the existence of God, but later it seems that he might not be so crazy after all in this hilarious spoof from Adams'... (more)
The Push of a Finger (1942)
Alfred Bester
Story set in 2909. A Prognostication Machine which can look into the future beyond 50 years (but no earlier) predicts the destruction of the entire universe in about 1000 years. Evidently, a new movement... (more)
Pyramids (2001)
Terry Pratchett
Thanks to Aaron Gullison for pointing out that in this Discworld novel, "the camels are all mathematicians, and think in math." For instance, The greatest mathematician alive on the Disc, and in fact... (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)
Quanto scommettiamo ("How much do you want to bet?") (1965)
Italo Calvino
The story is about two beings, living since the beginning of the universe (one of them, the protagonist of the book, is "old Qfwfq" - it's not a misprint -, a mysterious being that claims to have witnessed... (more)
Quarantine (1977)
Arthur C. Clarke
For safety's sake, all organic life on the planet Earth has been wiped out by automatic defenses. The investigator looking into this regrettable turn of affairs in an otherwise promising species discovers... (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)
Recess (Episode: A Genius Among Us) (2000)
Brian Hamill
This episode of Disney's Saturday Morning cartoon "Recess" is clearly a parody of the film "Good Will Hunting". I hope this doesn't lower anyone's opinion of me...but I personally liked it better than... (more)
Red Zen (2007)
Jason Earls
A man travels to another planet in an attemp to resolve a bizarre memory problem in this absurdist science fiction novel. As in his other works, Earls includes tidbits of computational number theory.... (more)
Refund (1938)
Fritz Karinthy (original) / Percival Wilde (English Adaptation)
A former student demands that his tuition be refunded because he feels his education was worthless, but loses his bid when he is tricked by the mathematics master. This entry refers to the 1938 adaptation... (more)
Riot at the Calc Exam and Other Mathematically Bent Stories (2009)
Colin Adams
Finally, a collection of hilarious mathematical stories by Colin Adams! Most of these stories were previously published in his Mathematically Bent column in the Mathematical Intelligencer. Only one is... (more)
Robbins v. New York (2008)
Colin Adams
The author of the Mathematical Intelligencer's "Mathematically Bent" column has a talent for making me laugh, and this piece which has the US Supreme Court justices debating higher math and modern physics... (more)
The Romance of Mathematics: Being the Original Researches of a Lady Professor of Girtham College... (1886)
Peter Hampson Ditchfield
The Reverend Peter Hampson Ditchfield (1854-1930) was the author of many novels and histories, including this odd piece that claims to be compiled from the lecture notes and diaries of a "lady professor",... (more)
Rucker - A Life Fractal by Eli Halberstam (1991)
John Allen Paulos
Like Lem's De Impossibilitate Vitae and Prognoscendi , this is a work of fiction that takes the form of a book review. (As Paulos explains in his introduction, "Reviewing [a] book which hasn't been written... (more)
Rumpled Stiltskin (2004)
Colin Adams
Do you remember the old Fractured Fairy Tales segment on Rocky and Bullwinkle in which classic stories were updated with a twist? This is just like those. The old Grimm's Brother tale is retold, but... (more)
The Secret Number (2000)
Highly Rated!
Igor Teper
In this very cute story, a mathematician who believes that there is an integer between 3 and 4 tries to convince his psychiatrist that he is not crazy. The idea is not very deep, but it is well handled... (more)
Shaffery Among the Immortals (1972)
Frederik Pohl
A funny yarn about one Jeremy Shaffery, an astronomer who idolizes Einstein and his methods and who wants to achieve immortal fame by doing something just as famous. The problem is that he is not built... (more)
She Wrote the Book (1946)
Oscar Brodney (writer) / Warren Wilson (writer) / Charles Lamont (director)
A modest and shy female math professor develops amnesia and completely changes her behavior when she comes to believe she is the author of steamy romance models. According to Burkard Polster and Marty... (more)
Silas P. Cornu's Dry Calculator (1898)
Henry Hering
A very hilarious short story about a man who wants to build a mechanical calculator to evaluate logarithms but has success building a machine that can do only addition and multiplication. On the other... (more)
Simpsons (Episode: Homer3) (1995)
John Swarzwelder / Steve Tomkins / David S. Cohen
In this segment from an episode of "The Simpsons" cartoon, Homer finds a portal to the third dimension while trying to hide from his sisters-in-law. This is a joke on the fact that they are usually... (more)
The Simpsons: Girls Just Want to Have Sums (2006)
Matt Selman
In this episode from the 17th season of the hit cartoon The Simpsons, the principal of Bart and Lisa's school makes a sexist comment (clearly a reference to the controversial comments from Harvard President... (more)
The Sinister Researches of C.P. Ransom (1951)
Homer C. Nearing Jr.
"[D]escribed on the cover as a science fiction novel, which is two mistakes in three words...it is [mathematical fiction], and it is a collection of short stories that originally appeared in The Magazine of... (more)
Sir Cumference and the... (1997)
Highly Rated!
Cindy Neuschwander
These are pun filled picture books. To be honest, they do not appeal to me at all; I would give them low ratings for both literary quality and mathematical content. However, as you can see from the comments... (more)
A Slight Miscalculation (1971)
Ben Bova
This is a story of a mathematician who found a way to predict earthquakes. He finds out that there will be a major earthquake in California (where he lives). After checking this prediction using CalTech's... (more)
Slightly Perfect / Are you with it? (1941)
George Malcolm-Smith (Novel) / Sam Perrin (Script) / George Balzer (Script)
Eggheaded actuary Milton Northey Haskins quits his job upon learning that his company has lost money due to his misplaced decimal point and he joins a carnival in the 1941 novel Slightly Perfect. This... (more)
Spaceland (2002)
Rudy Rucker
Yet another Flatland "sequel" in which silicon valley genius Joe Cube (an obvious reference to characters A. Square and A. Cube in Abbott's original) gets caught up in a war between four-dimensional beings... (more)
Stand-In (1937)
Tay Garnett
Leslie Howard plays a typical Hollywood mathematical genius: emotionless, conceited, and convinced that everything can be understood through mathematics. (Well, one out of three isn't bad!) It takes a trip to Tinsel Town and a beautiful actress to make him see the errors of his ways. (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)
The Strange Case of Mr. Jean D. (1983)
Joao Filipe Queiro
Published in the Mathematical Intelligencer magazine (Math.Intell. 5, 3 78-90 (1983)) this is the story of a mathematician who has a nightmare: Pi is rational! (Thanks to Nuno Crato for the suggestion.) (more)
Stranger than Fiction (2006)
Marc Forster (Director) / Zach Helm (Screenplay)
An employee of the IRS who is obsessed with counting and performing mental computations begins to hear the voice of a woman narrating his life. He soon learns that he is a character in a novel and that... (more)
Summer Wars (2009)
Mamoru Hosoda (Director)
Kenji is a part-time computer programmer from a poor family who has never had a girlfriend. Aside from the fact that he was almost selected to represent Japan in the Mathematics Olympiad he considers... (more)
The Tachypomp (1873)
Edward Page Mitchell
I can't believe this story is as old as it is! First published in Scribner's Magazine in 1873, it is only dated by its sexism and its contradition of Einstein. In order to win the hand of the beautiful Abscissa... (more)
The Tale of the Big Computer (aka The End of Man?) (1966)
Hannes Alfven (writing as Olof Johannesson)
"Alfven, the Swedish physicist and astrophysicist who was awarded the Nobel prize for his development of plasma physics and magnetohydrodynamics (but is perhaps better remembered ... (more)
A Tangled Tale (1886)
Highly Rated!
Lewis Carroll
A collection of ten mathematical puzzles in story form by the famous author/mathematician Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll). "The reason I answered 3 for "Mathematical Content" is that all the math... (more)
The Thesis of the Absent-Minded Master (1971)
Vladimir Levshin
[This is the first book in the] trilogy called "The Master of the Absent-Minded Sciences". The heroes of the other books (and the author) establish a club, where they analyze the notes (and, later,letters)... (more)
Thinking of Leaving Your Husband? (2010)
Charlotte Cory
[This] is the book of a series of [BBC] radio comedies from last year, in which the heroine has various unfortunate experiences with internet dating before meeting the perfect partner, who is a mathematician.... (more)
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels (2007)
Jasper Fforde
As Vijay Fafat points out, the eponymous heroine of this series of humorous, fantasy mysteries has a daughter who is a math prodigy. Among other things, in this novel she finds a counter-example to Fermat's... (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)
Topsy-turvy (Sans Dessus Dessous) (1889)
Jules Verne
The members of the Gun Club want to use a giant cannon's recoil to change the Earth's rotation axis, so they can exploit the presumed coalfields at the North Pole. An unfortunate side effect is that... (more)
Tracking the Random Variable (1991)
Highly Rated!
Marcos Donnelly
Ronald Barr is a statistician with a knack for identifying hidden variables. For example, it was he who recognized that by offering chicken soup and hot chocolate in the automatic coffee machine, his... (more)
Train Brains / The Runaway Train (Donald Duck) (1956)
Carl Barks
Donald Duck's nephews -- Huey, Dewey and Louie -- are trying to earn a merit badge in engineering for the Junior Woodchucks by working out a complicated problem involving toy trains. "We'll never be... (more)
The Travel Notes of the Absent-Minded Master (1971)
Vladimir Levshin
This is the second in the Master of the Absent-Minded Sciences trilogy. The second book is the Master sending letters about his and Little One's adventures to the Club for continuing analysis. Levshin's beloved children's books have never been translated into English, but can be read in Russian at lib.rus.ec. (more)
Twisters (1988)
Paul J. Nahin
A medical doctor stumbles onto a dangerous trap in this short story which was published in Analog (Vol CVIII No 6, May 1988). The twisted donuts sold by the new shop he passes on the way to work turn out to be Klein bottles (a topological oddity like the Mobius strip). (more)
Uncle Georg's Attic (2002)
Ben Schumacher
This short story appeared in the September 2002 issue of "Math Horizons", published by the Mathematical Association of America. In it, some kids look through an attic containing lots of stuff belonging... (more)
The Universal Library [Die Universalbibliothek] (1901)
Kurd Lasswitz
This early "science fiction" story explores the notion of a library containing every possible five hundred page book and an English translation appears in the classic mathematical fiction collection Fantasia... (more)
Unreasonable Effectiveness (2003)
Highly Rated!
Alex Kasman
"Unreasonable Effectiveness" reminds me of a classic Arthur C. Clarke style short story. It has exactly enough mathematics done correctly and a twist that boggles the mind at the end. To be fair... (more)
A Very Good Year (1984)
Jack C. Haldeman (II)
A very short fantasy-like story about Statistics. A senior statistician for Dept of Acccident Prevention describes how the law of averages appears to have failed when applied to mortality rates. In particular,... (more)
A Very Peculiar Practice (1986)
Andrew Davies
In this television series about a medical doctor at a British university, a recurring character during the first season was a mathematician who was the doctor's roommate, Chen. Their "flat" was therefore... (more)
Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen (2007)
Kathryn Walat (playwright)
Victoria Martin is a popular girl at Longwood High -- dating one of the stars of the school basketball team and friends with the "Jens" on the cheerleading squad. So, most of the guys on the math team... (more)
The Visiting Professor (1994)
Highly Rated!
Robert Littell
Lemuel Falk, a ``randomnist'' from the Steklov Institute in Russia gets a visiting position at a chaos research institute in Upstate New York in this academic farce. He meets a drunkard who studies... (more)
Visitors from Oz : The Wild Adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodsman (1999)
Martin Gardner
You wouldn't believe it, but the famous popular math writer produced a sequel to the Oz books in which Dorothy travels to New York City through a Klein bottle (built out of two Mobius strips by the same fellow who built the Tin Man). I have not read the book, but it apparently involves a mathematical puzzle of some sort. (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)
What Are the Odds? (2006)
Justin Spitzer (writer) / Matthew Tritt (director)
Two extremely nerdy strangers who keep running into each other in New York City are surprised to learn that they both "study applied mathematics" and are attending the same conference on "stochastic processes... (more)
Without a Trace (Episode: Claus and Effect) (2007)
David Amann (writer) / Alicia Kirk (writer) / Bobby Roth (Director)
In this Christmas special episode of the TV crime drama, a department store Santa turns out to be a mathematical prodigy who has quit his job as a mathematician/programmer due to ethical concerns that his work will cause others to lose their jobs. He becomes involved in a scheme to make money by applying mathematics to gambling. (more)
Year of the Rat (2009)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A story of two brothers who use mathematics, one to prove, one to disprove God, and fortunately have their big sister to resolve things. One of two mathematical stories in Denise Little's anthology Intelligent Design. (See also Luck be a Lady). (more)
The Zero Theorem (2013)
Pat Rushin (screenplay) / Terry Gilliam (director)
Thanks to Brenton Lemesurier for pointing out this film directed by Monty Python's Gilliam and expected to be released December 2013. According to Wikipedia, it is about a computer programmer who "works... (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)