a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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126 matches found out of 1229 entries

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

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)
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)
Adventure of the Final Problem (1893)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This first Sherlock Holmes story about Professor Moriarty (later to be viewed as Holmes' arch enemy) introduces him as a professor of mathematics who won fame as a young man for his extension of the binomial... (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)
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)
As Above, So Below (2009)
Rudy Rucker
An LSD of a story - in typical Rucker style - where a computer programmer working with the Mandelbrot set is visited upon by a living UFO in the form of the M-set; the UFO named Ma explains to him how... (more)
Aurora in Four Voices (1998)
Catherine Asaro
Jato is trapped in Nightingale, a city in permanent darkness, inhabited by mathematical artists who mostly ignore him. Soz arrives to repair her ship, meets Jato, and finds... (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)
The Balloon Hoax (1844)
Edgar Allan Poe
This is Poe's account of an alleged balloon trip to the moon, in the spirit of the then infamous moon hoax. The balloon rider describes the Earth as appearing concave when 5 miles up. Later,... (more)
The Bishop Murder Case (1929)
Highly Rated!
S.S. van Dine (pseudonym of Willard Huntington Wright)
Our hero, Vance, says at the end of this mystery novel: "At the outset I was able to postulate a mathematician as the criminal agent. The difficulty of naming the murderer lay in the fact that nearly... (more)
BLIT (1988)
David Langford
Goedelian incompleteness is encoded in graphic images that kill viewers. A new kind of infoterrorism spreads. Originally published in INTERZONE #25 Sept/Oct 1988. See also a fake FAQ... (more)
Blowups Happen (1940)
Robert A. Heinlein
A mathematician discovers that his formulas predict that an important new power station poses an extremely grave risk to humanity, and he must convince others of the danger. reprinted in THE PAST... (more)
Border Guards (1999)
Greg Egan
In a virtual universe shaped like a 3-torus, free from disease and death, Jamil is easily depressed but enjoys playing a game of quantum soccer with his old friends, and one new friend. The new friend... (more)
The Brink of Infinity (1936)
Highly Rated!
Stanley G. Weinbaum
A mathematics professor is kidnapped by a madman with a grudge against mathematicians, who threatens dire consequences unless the prof can solve a math riddle he has concocted: by asking ten questions,... (more)
The Brothers Karamazov (1880)
Fyodor Dostoevsky
In this classic final masterwork by Dostoevsky, the existence of non-Euclidean geometry is mentioned at one point. Although the theme is not explicitly carried throughout the rest of the novel, it plays... (more)
The Calculus of Love (2011)
Dan Clifton (Writer and Director)
A professor who is obsessed with proving Goldbach's Conjecture challenges a class of graduate students to make any progress on it. But, is he truly motivated by a love of pure mathematics and its search... (more)
The Call of Cthulhu (1928)
H.P. Lovecraft
This is the most famous story by Lovecraft, which spawned it's own sub-genre and RPG, called the Cthulhu Mythos. It concerns the investigations of Prof. Francis Wayland Thurston as he investigates... (more)
The Cambist and Lord Iron (2007)
Daniel Abraham
The story is set in a no-name kingdom, seemingly medieval but with certain modernisms. The cambist of the title is a minor worker, whose daily routine is interrupted by Lord Iron, who has come to... (more)
Cantor Trilogy (2015)
Harun Šiljak
An intriguing short work of speculative fiction about a future in which nearly all mathematics research is conducted by computers. In fact, in the story, only one journal (The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics),... (more)
The Central Tendency (2003)
Daniel Kaysen
In the first portion of this short story, a teenager and the aunt who took her in when her parents died enjoy doing math together. However, when the girl begins to get advanced training from Cambridge... (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)
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)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Robert Wise (director) / Harry Bates (story) / Edmund H. North
One must wonder how aliens might communicate with humans when and if they arrive on Earth. In the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, the extraterrestrial Klaatu (Michael Rennie) introduces himself... (more)
Dialógusok a matematikáról [Dialogues on Mathematics] (1965)
Alfréd Rényi
Three Socratic dialogues by the Hungarian mathematician Alfréd Rényi that address mathematical topics such as Platonism and the differences between pure and applied math. A Socratic dialogue is not... (more)
Division by Zero (1991)
Highly Rated!
Ted Chiang
Answers the question: what would happen if we found out that mathematics is inconsistent? This is a great piece of mathematical fiction. (Thanks to Frank Chess who pointed it out to me.) Renee... (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)
The Einstein See-Saw (1932)
Miles J. Breuer
This is another of the hyperspace stories by Miles Breuer. This time, a mathematical physicist discovers that mattter can be tossed around in and out of space(-time) [see his papers, "A Preliminary Report... (more)
An Episode of Flatland (1907)
Charles H. Hinton
Hinton, whose biography is a little too weird for me to believe and whose essays on the fourth dimension (see for example A New Era of Thought) leave me wondering how much he really believed that the fourth... (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)
The Extraordinary Hotel or the Thousand and First Journey of Ion the Quiet (1968)
Highly Rated!
Naum Ya. Vilenkin
The author toys with the counter-intuitive nature of the countably-infinite by postulating the existence of an intergalactic hotel with rooms indexed by the positive integers. For instance, the narrator... (more)
Fantasia Mathematica : Being a Set of Stories, Together With a Group of Oddments and Diversions, All Drawn from ... (1958)
Highly Rated!
Clifton Fadiman (editor)
This is the first of the two wonderful, classic collections of mathematically flavored literature and such by Clifton Fadiman. (The second is "Mathematical Magpie".) Fortunately, it is now available... (more)
The Feeling of Power (1957)
Highly Rated!
Isaac Asimov
An advanced society rediscovers the joys of multipying numbers BY HAND, a forgotten art. It's a gem. The author probably did not realize how quickly the premise of this story (people so dependent... (more)
Feigenbaum Number (1995)
Nancy Kress
A postdoc who perceives reality different than other people (he sees something like the Platonic ideals people ought to be) works with a professor on combining chaos theory with particle physics. I'm... (more)
Fermat's Best Theorem (1995)
Janet Kagan
A student comes up with what appears to be a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. So, she gives it to her professor hoping that he will find a mistake in it (see below). It turns out that the professor is... (more)
The Fifth-Dimension Catapult (1931)
Murray Leinster
This short novel, originally published in the January 1931 ASTOUNDING, and republished by Damon Knight in SCIENCE FICTION OF THE 30'S (1975), involves a mathematical physicist whose theories get applied... (more)
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884)
Edwin Abbott Abbott
This is the classic example of mathematical fiction in which the author helps us to think about the meaning of "dimension" through fictional example: a visit to a world with only two spatial dimensions.... (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)
The Fourth-Dimensional Demonstrator (1935)
Murray Leinster
Uses the fourth dimension as geewhiz terminology to explain a matter duplicator/unduplicator. Includes a tesseract. But if you ignore the story's explanation involving time as ... (more)
Fractions (2011)
Buzz Mauro
A math teacher realizes that the father of one of his students is a man with whom he has had an anonymous sexual relationship. There is some discussion of math education in general, and about hypothetical... (more)
Funes el Memorioso [Funes, His Memory] (1942)
Jorge Luis Borges
Borges’ short story piece, “Funes, His Memory’ (or in other translations, “Funes, The Memorious”) discusses the phenomenal memory of an acquaintance, Ireneo Funes. Funes, at age nineteen,... (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)
Gauß, Eisenstein, and the ``third'' proof of the Quadratic Reciprocity Theorem: Ein kleines Schauspiel (1994)
Reinhard C. Laubenbacher / David J. Pengelley
It is presented as a dialogue/drama between Gauss and Eisenstein, talking about the third proof of Gauss's reciprocity theorem (perhaps the actors are supposed to draw symbols in the air to make the... (more)
The Genius (1901)
Nikolai Georgievich Garin-Mikhailovskii
The Russian Engineer N.G. Mikhailovskii (1852-1906) was also an accomplished author using the pseudonym "N.G. Garin". His short story, "The Genius", tells about an Jewish man who fills his notebooks with... (more)
Geometry in the South Pacific (1927)
Sylvia Warner
A chapter from Warner's novel (more)
The Geometry of Love (1966)
John Cheever
An engineer is inspired by a passing truck from "Euclid's Dry Cleaning" to apply geometric principles to his own marital problems. He finds that interpreting his family as a triangle has the advantage... (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 Gimatria of Pi (2004)
Lavie Tidhar
More ``numerology'' than mathematics, this short story is based on the idea that the decimal expansion of π has predictive value. For example, it is portrayed as predicting the assassination of Yitzhak... (more)
Glory (2007)
Greg Egan
The story talks about a xenomathematician's quest to understand hieroglyphic tablets on an alien planet containing the mathematical knowledge of an extinct civilization. The extinct aliens had apparently... (more)
The Gold-Bug (1843)
Edgar Allan Poe
Not only does this very famous Poe story contain a (very little) bit of mathematics in the form of a probabilistic approach to cryptography and a geometric description of the treasure hunt on the ground... (more)
Hard Times (1853)
Charles Dickens
A suggestion for a novel to be added to your website Mathematical Fiction: In Charles Dickens's "Hard Times", poor schoolgirl Sissy Jupe is struggling in an educational system that is obsessed... (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 Ifth of Oofth (1957)
Walter Trevis
[This] is a short, zany, tall-tale reminiscent of Heinlein's "And He Built A Crooked House". Someone ends up making a 3-dimensional, unfolded projection of a 5-dimensional hypercube, a Penteract. The... (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)
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 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)
The Judge's House (1914)
Bram Stoker
A math student seeks a quiet place to study for his exams but winds up battling an angry ghost. Stoker certainly knew mathematical words to throw around (e.g. quaternions and conic sections), but this... (more)
Kavanagh (1849)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In the fourth chapter of this novel by the famous poet, the school teacher of the title tries to convince his skeptical wife that mathematics can be poetic by reading to her from Lilavati. (This one chapter was published separately as Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, 3 (1855), pages 257–62, and so I will consider it both as a short story and as an excerpt from a novel.) (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 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)
The Lottery in Babylon [La lotería en Babilonia] (1941)
Jorge Luis Borges
In what is clearly a metaphor for the apparent randomness of life (and the theological implications that follow), the great Argentinian writer Borges crafts a tale about the all important lottery in a... (more)
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)
Maths on a Plane (2008)
This story, about a student flirting with the attractive woman in the seat next to him on a plane, won the student category of the 2008 New Writers Award from Cambridge University's ``Plus+ Magazine''.... (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)
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)
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)
Mortal Immortal (1833)
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
This fantasy story by the author of Frankenstein, about a man who drinks a half dose of a potion that bestows immortality, is only borderline mathematical fiction. The only arguably mathematical part... (more)
Morte di un matematico napoletano (1992)
Mario Martone (director)
"This movie describes the last day in [the] life of a famous Italian mathematician: Renato Caccioppoli. He was a fascinating and discussed person in Naples' political and cultural life. [A] member... (more)
Mrs. Warren's Profession (1894)
George Bernard Shaw
This is Shaw's notorious play about poverty and prostitution, the "profession" of the title. (The play itself was not performed in public in the UK until 1925.) Mrs. Warren has made her fortune... (more)
The Mummy and Miss Nitocris: A Phantasy of the Fourth Dimension (1906)
George Griffith
In his presentation entitled "An Examination of Some Supposed Mathematical Impossibilities" before the Royal Society, Professor Marmion demonstrates that he can do three geometric constructions that mathematicians... (more)
Musgrave Ritual (1893)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
A tiny bit of mathematics is used by Sherlock Holmes to solve this mystery. In it, he ties together the disappearance of a housemaid, the discovery of the dead body of the chief butler and a strange poem... (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)
Nena's Math Force (2005)
Susan Jarema
This picture book for children, which is available for free online and also in print, tells the story of a girl who is upset when her math teacher requires the class to do arithmetic without a calculator.... (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)
Not a Chance (2009)
Peter Haff
A student harangues his physics professor about the possibility that all mathematical proofs are incorrect. His argument is based on the supposed uncertainty about the validity of proofs of the Four Color... (more)
Notes from the Underground (1864)
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Part I involves an unnamed rather crazed and unreliable narrator (generally known as "the Underground Man") raving and rambling against life, the universe, and everything. A few... (more)
An Old Arithmetician (1885)
Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman
The title character of this short story, which appeared in the September 1885 issue of Harper's Weekly, is an old, uneducated woman who loves computing (with chalk and slate): You have always been very... (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 One Best Bet (1911)
Samuel Hopkins Adams
The story is about an amateur detective who uses some elementary geometric triangulation to foil an assassination. The last paragraph is a great touch, “Why, Governor, you’re giving me too much credit.... (more)
Oracle (2000)
Highly Rated!
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)
Our Feynman Who Art in Heaven... (2007)
Paul Di Filippo
A religious cult based on the Standard Model (of high energy physics) has its headquarters in a tesseract. This story, which is certainly more physical than mathematical, appears in the "Plumage from Pegasus" column in the February 2007 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction and is available for free at their website. (more)
The Outer Limits (Episode: Behold, Eck!) (1964)
John Mantley (screenplay) / William R. Cox (story)
In this episode of the classic science fiction series Outer Limits, a 2-dimensional being trapped in our world is aided by Dr. Stone, an engineer described as being an expert in "optical geometry" and... (more)
Pi in the Sky (1983)
Rudy Rucker
The story is about a family which finds an alien artifact on a beach while on vacation: a smooth cone with patterns of stripes on its surface and which produces sound in the same pattern. It turns out... (more)
The Plattner Story (1896)
Herbert George Wells
Gottfrieb Plattner disappears after an explosion for nine days. Upon return, he recounts a strange tale of a parallel world. More mathematically interesting, he discovers that he is now left-handed,... (more)
The Power of Words (1845)
Edgar Allan Poe
A very short work (two-pages long!) in which two angels discuss the divine implications of our ability to mathematically determine the future consequences of an action, especially wave propagation.... (more)
The Problem of Cell 13 (1907)
Jacques Futrelle
"The story which introduces Professor S. F. X. van Dusen, professional scientific supergenius, who lends his talents to solving baffling mysteries. He is described as primarily ... (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)
The Purloined Letter (1845)
Edgar Allan Poe
"This is the third and last C. Auguste Dupin mystery. The Prefect of Paris police explains a very delicate situation to Dupin, involving a royal letter whose possession grants its bearer great... (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)
The Rapture of the Nerds (2004)
Cory Doctorow / Charles Stross
This story is set in Stross's "Accelerando" series, due for publication in novel form in 2005, offering a worm's eye view of the "Vinge singularity", the supposed moment in the coming decades... (more)
Reading by Numbers (2009)
Highly Rated!
Aidan Doyle
Elementary number theory and some superstitious numerology underlie this story, which appeared in the November 11, 2009 issue of the online Fantasy Magazine (though I would never describe this story as... (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)
The Remarkable Case of Davidson's Eyes (1895)
Herbert George Wells
Rather than seeing what is actually around him in England, Davidson sees events occurring on a rock off of the Antipodes Island. The explanation offered includes the notion of non-flat geometries for... (more)
Riding the Crocodile (2005)
Greg Egan
A couple from the race of “Amalgam” wanted to carry out one project before choosing to die after a life spanning tens of thousands of years: Establishing contact with the elusive race called “Aloof”.... (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)
Round the Moon (1870)
Highly Rated!
Jules Verne
This early science fiction novel about space travel (published originally in French, of course) contains two chapters with explicit (and very nice) mathematical content. In Chapter 4 (A Little Algebra)... (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)
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)
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)
Singleton (2002)
Greg Egan
This story involves a physicist and a mathematician who have a child -- well, sort of -- that they have specially designed to remain in a "classical" state (as opposed to a quantum superposition of states)... (more)
The Sirdar's Chess-Board (1885)
Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer
A military bride travelling in Afghanistan is surprised when a mystic is able to cut up a chess board ("with three snips of my scissors") and put it back together so that the number of squares has increased... (more)
Six Thought Experiments Concerning the Nature of Computation (2005)
Rudy Rucker
These are six very short stories, a few of which have mathematical themes. In the first story, Lucky Number, a game programmer spots some "lucky numbers" spray painted on a train. On a whim, he uses... (more)
Space (1911)
John Buchan
This mystical story, as recounted by a lawyer, is about a brilliant mathematician ("an erratic genius who had written some articles in Mind on that dreary subject, the mathematical conception of infinity",... (more)
The Spacetime Pool (2008)
Catherine Asaro
Janelle, recently graduated from MIT with a degree in math, is pulled through the "branch cut" between two universes to an alternate Earth where two sword wielding brothers rule half the world. There,... (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 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)
Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893)
Lewis Carroll
The sequel to his somewhat popular book "Sylvie and Bruno" never achieved the popularity of the original. This lack of success may or may not be related to Chapter VII (entitled "Mein Herr") of the... (more)
The Siege Of The "Lancashire Queen" (1906)
Jack London
Describes how the capture of illegal shrimp-poachers becomes a problem of triangular geometry and relative speeds of chase. In particular, the pirates, trapped on a ship, the chasing posse and the point... (more)
Tiger by the Tail (1951)
A.G. Nourse
A pocketbook contains a gateway to another universe, and a group of unlikely heroes tries to save ours from the aliens there by reaching in and grabbing it. This is a cute short story, with a not-particularly-sound... (more)
The Time Axis (1949)
Henry Kuttner
This was published as an Ace paperback in 1965. I don't think I have a copy of the paperback in my collection, but I have the original magazine publication, in the January 1949 issue of Startling Stories.... (more)
The Time Machine (1895)
Herbert George Wells
This famous early science fiction novel opens with a clever (and, if you think ahead to the role of Minkowski Space in special relativity, prophetic) lecture on "the fourth dimension". Of course, discussions... (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)
Turing's Apples (2008)
Stephen Baxter
Story about a far-away civilization transmitting a complex message in all directions, containing a software program (“Turing machine”) which ends up creating von Neumann machines with one specific... (more)
Twenty-seven Uses for Imaginary Numbers (2009)
Buzz Mauro
A teenage boy's discovery of the joys of Euler's formula coincides with the awakening of his homosexual desires. The author's mathematical understanding is very good, and the story reminded me of young... (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)
Until Tomorrow, Then (2010)
Shaun Hamill (writer and director)
A short film about a young mathematician obsessed with working out the "rate the universe is running down" so that he can determine time that the universe will end. One of the two other characters... (more)
The Valley of Fear (1916)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Having introduced Sherlock Holmes' most famous enemy, Professor Moriarty, as a mathematician in an earlier story, Doyle provides us with just a small glimpse of his mathematical genius (as opposed to... (more)
Vanishing Point (1959)
C.C. Beck
The short story is another take on the true nature of reality and one man's quest to unmask it. It is more an idea piece than a full-fledged development. An artist, Carter, who is a trained mathematician... (more)
A Victim of Higher Space (1917)
Algernon Blackwood
This is another of the John Silence tall-tales, this time involving a man who learns to visualize 4-dimensional space and then starts slipping in and out of the hyperspace. As he describes it, "This... (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)
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)
The Wonderful Visit (1895)
Herbert George Wells
"An angel, who normally inhabits a fourth dimensional world (with curvature instead of gravitation!) falls into our three dimensional world." (more)
Zilkowski's Theorem (2003)
Highly Rated!
Karl Iagnemma
This is a story of a love triangle with a definite mathematical twist. Henderson's roommate, Czogloz, steals away his girlfriend, Milla, when all three were math graduate students. Years later, seeking... (more)

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)