MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Motif=Anti-social Mathematicians

98 matches found out of 1141 entries

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

After Math (2013)
Denise Grover Swank
This is a young adult novel about a college math major, a typical nerd with some apparent neuroses, who learns to be much more "normal" when she is forced to tutor a popular male soccer player. Thanks to my student, Madeline Goodman, for bringing this book to my attention. (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)
Antonia's Line (1995)
Marleen Gorris
About three or more generations of strong and self-sufficient women who live on a farm and the people around them. Antonia's granddaughter is a genius, namely a mathematician and a musician. But she... (more)
The Arnold Proof (2002)
Jessica Francis Kane
This short story begins with a quote from Philip E.B. Jourdain's essay "The Nature of Mathematics". In the quote, he explains how in the process of carrying out a complicated computation, one may want... (more)
The Axiom of Choice (2009)
David Corbett
An extremely well-crafted short story in which math professor coldly recounts for a detective how the bloody bodies of his wife and his student came to be in his house. It is not really a murder mystery,... (more)
Batorsag and Szerelem [a.k.a. Beautiful Ohio] (2006)
Ethan Canin
A very sensitively written story about a child, William, who grows up in the shadow of his brother, Clive, who is a math prodigy. Clive, in addition to his strong mathematical skills, is also a very... (more)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Sylvia Nasar / Akiva Goldsman
Although the book A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr. is not fictional, Ron Howard's film (released December 2001) most certainly is. (I say this not as a complaint, but just to justify... (more)
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)
The Bird with the Broken Wing (1930)
Agatha Christie
The Harley Quin stories (this collection, plus two later stories) are amongst the most peculiar mysteries ever written. (They certainly are Dame Agatha's most peculiar. They were also her personal... (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)
Brain Dead (1990)
Charles Beaumont (writer) / Adam Simon (director)
A nightmarish, reality bending horror movie about a brain surgeon whose services are obtained to retrieve corporate secrets from the mind of a mathematician who has become a homicidal maniac. (more)
Cantor's War (1974)
Christopher Anvil
In my opinion, this story is slanderous and the author should be ashamed. The plot involves a science fiction scenario in which the human military is battling aliens in "tau space". Whenever we send... (more)
The Capsule (2010)
Miceal Og O'Donnell (writer and director)
A former mathematician who has tape on his glasses, a sleeping bag on his back and talks just like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Main is ordered by his doctor to be more social (to get out of his "capsule").... (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)
Cryptology (2003)
Leonard Michaels
You know how The New Yorker likes to publish vaguely bizarre short stories that happen to take place in New York City? You know how lots of authors who want to show a character who is afraid of "real... (more)
The Devotion of Suspect X [Yôgisha X no kenshin] (2005)
Keigo Higashino
Reclusive high school math teacher Tetsuya Ishigami is "devoted" to two things: his math research and his neighbor, Yasuko Hanaoka. When Hanaoka and her daughter kill her abusive ex-husband, they are... (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)
Doctor Who: The Algebra of Ice (2004)
Lloyd Rose (pseudonym of Sarah Tonyn)
Lloyd Rose (pen name for Sarah Tonyn) has a “Doctor Who” book called “The Algebra of Ice”. It describes the attempted invasion of our universe by mathematical beings from another dimension. These... (more)
The Elusive Bullet (1931)
John Rhode (aka Cecil John Charles Street)
Dr. Priestly is a professor whose hobby is "the mathematical detection of crime". In this story, he must convince the police inspector that the man he plans to accuse of murder is, in fact, innocent. The... (more)
Falling Umbrella (2002)
Julia Whitty
In this short story, an aging mathematician witnesses a woman with an umbrella jumping (falling?) off of the Golden Gate bridge. Mathematical terminology is tossed around reasonably well ("proofs by contradiction",... (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 Five Hysterical Girls Theorem (2000)
Rinne Groff
I think this play about a number theory conference at the British seaside at the turn of the 20th century may be misunderstood. The plot revolves around the neuroses of the senior researcher, Moses Vazsonyi,... (more)
FYI (1961)
James Blish
This story contains a brief explanation of the transfinite cardinals and their arithmetic as part of a scary bit of science fiction. Why, you may ask (and the character in the story does), do the transfinite cardinals... (more)
Gauntlet (2009)
Richard Aaron
Autistic mathematician, Hamilton Turbee, helps stop a terrorist plot. The book has received praise for its portrayal of an autism and as a thriller. Of course, I like to see mathematicians portrayed... (more)
The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009)
Stieg Larsson
In this sequel to the stunningly popular The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the self-taught, nearly autistic, young genius, Lisbeth Salander, once again becomes involved in a thrilling mystery allied with... (more)
The Gold Cup (2000)
Lucas Reiner
A character study of the patrons in a Los Angeles coffee shop, including Jack, a mathematician. Jack is widowed, anti-social, and spends his time trying to "penetrate zero". (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)
Heavy Weather (1994)
Bruce Sterling
Tornado weather in Texas gets worse over the coming decades, and a team headed by a supergenius mathematician confronts the ultimate tornado. Includes explicit summaries of his mathematical prowess (surprisingly, not chaos theory) and of his complete social incompetence (not a surprise, I suppose). (more)
Hell of a Fix (2009)
Matthew Hughes
When an actuary's exclamation upon hitting his thumb with a hammer summons a demon, he unwittingly causes a general strike of the workers in Hell. With the help of a theologian with a bizarre theory to... (more)
Hole in the Paper Sky (2008)
Howard Kingkade (Screenplay) / Bill Purple (Director)
An anti-social mathematics graduate student is forced to take a job in his university's psychology department where he gets to know a dog used for laboratory experiments. In risking all to save the dog,... (more)
The Hollow Man (1993)
Dan Simmons
A psychic mathematician is driven to the edge of insanity as his life partner approaches death. The mathematician's research is described explicitly -- as are some of the horrific events that befall... (more)
The Housekeeper and the Professor (Hakase No Aishita Sushiki) (2004)
Highly Rated!
Yoko Ogawa
In the Japanese novel Hakase No Aishita Sushiki, a young single mother is hired to care for an older mathematician who is suffering from anterograde amnesia caused by a car accident. The professor, who... (more)
The Imitation Game (2014)
Morten Tyldum (director) / Graham Moore (screenplay)
I do not yet know much about this film other than that Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, Keira Knightley is Joan Clark and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey) is a spy. The title, presumably, is a reference to the Turing Test. (more)
The Indian Clerk (2007)
David Leavitt
Acclaimed author, Leavitt, presents a fictionalized version of one of the most famous "human interest stories" in mathematical history: the short life and career of Srinivasa Ramanujan. Focusing largely... (more)
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)
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)
An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000)
Aimee Bender
Mona Gray is a second grade math teacher for whom math is not only a job, but a beloved friend, an obsession and a security blanket. In this first novel we learn about the events that have shaped her... (more)
Journey into a Dark Heart (1998)
Peter Hoeg
This story appears in the collection Tales of the Night made up of stories by Hoeg that are all set on the evening of March 19, 1929. In this one, a depressed young Danish mathematician takes a train... (more)
Kapitoil (2010)
Teddy Wayne
It is 1999 and Karim Issar is a Qatari programmer who has just moved to NYC to work on Wall Street. Karim understands the world through mathematics and equations, and wishes others did as well. He does... (more)
Killing Time (2000)
Frank Tallis
In this noir thriller, a British math grad student discovers antique lab equipment which allows him to see into the past and winds up murdering his girlfriend. Sex (explicitly described) and interpersonal... (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 Last Enemy (2008)
Peter Berry (Screenplay) / Iain B. MacDonald (Director)
In this BBC TV series, mathematician Stephen Ezard returns home from China for his brother's funeral but finds himself caught up in two simultaneous stories of high level espionage. In one subplot, he... (more)
Leaning Towards Infinity (1996)
Sue Woolfe
Tells the story of an Australian woman who wins a contest for the best mathematical theory from an amateur mathematician. The prize is a trip to a math conference in Athens. The theory proposed by... (more)
Leeches (2011)
David Albahari
Serb author David Albahari's avant-garde novel about a newspaper columnist caught up in a Kabbalistic plot is notable in that it is written as a single, unbroken paragraph. It is also sort of interesting,... (more)
Life After Genius (2008)
M. Ann Jacoby
Although his family would normally expect him to stay in their small town and take over the family business (a combination of a furniture store and funeral home), Mead Fegley's "genius" gives him the unprecedented... (more)
Long Division (2003)
Michael Redhill
The title of this short story refers both to arithmetic, a beloved subject of the school age child at its center, and the separation that his mother feels from him and his father due to the child's extraordinary... (more)
The Lure (2007)
Bill Napier
Irish mathematician Tom Petrie is called in as an expert to analyze a mysterious stream of particles that appears to be a message from aliens. The math never gets very deep. Petrie is supposed to be... (more)
A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines (2006)
Janna Levin
This novel about Alan Turing and Kurt Gödel contains much that has already been said many times before, and occasionally "tries too hard" artistically. Still I very much enjoyed reading it, and even... (more)
Maid of Murder (2010)
Amanda Flower
Like the author of this murder mystery, protagonist India Hayes is a librarian at a small midwestern college. Presumably unlike the author, Hayes must prove the innocence of her mathematician brother... (more)
Mailman (2000)
J. Robert Lennon
The title character, called Mailman, is a mentally ill mailman with criminal and deviant behavior with respect to the mail that he handles. It turns out that Mailman had once been a mathematics graduate... (more)
Math is Murder (2012)
Robert C. Brigham / James B. Reed
This is a murder mystery co-written by an emeritus math professor and a retired crime scene investigator. The victim was an egotistical and (almost unbelievably) unpleasant mathematics department chair... (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)
The Mathematician (1997)
George Weinberg
“Peter K was the first person on earth ever to invert a skew symmetric matrix by pressing a button”. So begins the story, set in the years where computers had just started making a foray into the... (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)
Measuring the World (2006)
Daniel Kehlmann
Two famous Germans of the 19th Century, mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and explorer/geologist Alexander von Humboldt, are irreverently presented in this novel which topped the sales charts in Germany... (more)
Moment of Madness (2002)
Una-Mary Parker
When her father, a brilliant but somewhat twisted mathematical statistician, dies unexpectedly, a woman is forced by his will to distribute valuable jewels to all of the women with whom he has cheated... (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)
Mozart and the Whale (2005)
Petter Næss (Director)
A romance about two people with Asperger's Syndrome based on a true story. I have not seen the film, but understand that the male character is obsessed with numbers and statistics but works as a cab driver.... (more)
The N-Plus-1th-Degree (1968)
Stephen Barr
A mathematician is accused of murdering a man who flirted with his wife. Her faith in him (which is so strong, she describes it as being to the n-plus-1th degree) allows her to figure out how and by... (more)
Nachman at the Races (1999)
Leonard Michaels
In Michaels' third Nachman story, we learn that the UCLA mathematician enjoys attending horse races -- apparently his only emotional outlet besides his mathematics research. There is discussion of the... (more)
Nachman Burning (1998)
Leonard Michaels
In this story, the reclusive UCLA mathematician Nachman, a recurring character in stories by Leonard Michaels, gets a haircut. He chooses a barber he knows to be terrible at cutting hair, but he goes... (more)
Nachman from Los Angeles (2002)
Leonard Michaels
This second "Nachman" story by Leonard Michaels is a flashback to a time when the UCLA mathematician was a graduate student and hired by a rich Arabian prince to ghostwrite a philosophy paper for him.... (more)
Newton's Hooke (2004)
David Pinner
A play about Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke which presents "the dark side" of Newton. Emphasis is put on his egotism (not only does he think that he is incomparably brilliant, but he also seems to think... (more)
The Odd Women (1893)
George Gissing
This is one of many Victorian novels about romance, gender and class, but it has aged well. Among the several relationships it considers is one between a mathematician, the author of "A Treatise on Trilinear... (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)
Of Mystery There Is No End (2002)
Leonard Michaels
Leonard Michaels' recurring character of UCLA mathematician Nachman faces questions of infidelity when he learns of the extra-marital affairs of his friend Norbert and Norbert's wife. It is somewhat... (more)
Only Say the Word (2005)
Niall Williams
This novel about loss and grief includes a minor character (the protagonist's brother) who has mathematical talent and "retreats" into numbers. He believes that "for every problem there is a true and perfect solution" and eventually applies his skills to gambling (apparently providing the perfect solution to the problems of his life.) (more)
Orpheus Lost: A Novel (2007)
Janette Turner Hospital
This book is simultaneously a beautiful love story with frequent allusions to the myth of Orpheus, a political thriller, and a gut wrenching tear jerker about people whose lives are destroyed by war. ... (more)
The Penultimate Conjecture (1999)
Leonard Michaels
This is the most mathematical of Leonard Michaels' seven stories about the brilliant but anti-social UCLA mathematician, Nachman. In it, Nachman attends a conference in San Francisco at which a Swedish... (more)
A Person of Interest (2008)
Susan Choi
Professor Lee, an older math professor at a small mid-western university becomes a suspect when a package bomb kills the young and popular professor in the office next to his. More of a serious psychological... (more)
Pieces of Pi (2006)
David Bartell
A socially inept cubicle worker becomes obsessed with making sense of the controversial Biblical passage (I Kings 7:23-26) which many interpret as claiming that the value of π is exactly three (therefore... (more)
Probabilities (1995)
Michael Stein
Sixteen year old Will Sterling is the protagonist of this "coming of age story" that throws just a little math in with the usual teen-angst and sexual exploration. The author is very good at letting you... (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)
Proof (2000)
Highly Rated!
David Auburn (playwright)
This Pulitzer Prize winning play (now also a film) focuses on a daughter who took care of her father after his mental disorder forced him to give up his successful career as a mathematician. After the... (more)
Reality Conditions (2005)
Highly Rated!
Alex Kasman
The title story in the collection of the same name, this short story follows a mathematics grad student to a workshop at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. Although the story contains no supernatural... (more)
Sad Strains of a Gay Waltz (1997)
Irene Dische
Like many other mathematicians in fiction (and in real life too?), the protagonist in this novel is brilliant when it comes to calculations but has difficulty with the most commonplace examples of human... (more)
The Sand-Reckoner (2000)
Highly Rated!
Gillian Bradshaw
In this historical novel whose title is copied from one Archimedes' own works, the famous Greek mathematician is your typical math nerd, always so wrapped up in his computations that he is barely aware... (more)
Satisfactory Proof (2005)
Cynthia Morrison Phoel
A Master's degree student pouts and complains about the people around him as he earns his Master's degree in mathematics at a Bulgarian university. Although the titular phrase "satisfactory proof" appears... (more)
Secrets to the Grave (2011)
Tami Hoag
Mathematician Zander Zahn is suspected of having murdered an artist in this follow-up to the novel "Deeper than the Dead". Almost no mathematics is actually discussed, not even the tiny amount one often... (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)
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)
Snow (1998)
Geoffrey A. Landis
An apparently schizophrenic, homeless woman sells her body to get herself and her infant off the street on a cold night. Only at the end of this extremely short story do we realize that the imaginary... (more)
The Solitude of Prime Numbers [La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi] (2008)
Paolo Giordano
The novel "La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi" (2008), written by a physics grad student, sold over a million copies in Italy and appeared in English as ``The Solitude of Prime Numbers'' (2010). It tells... (more)
The Song of the Geometry Instructor (1985)
Ralph M. Berry
While snowed in at his home, a geometer writes to his former lover about his students, his discoveries and how much he misses her. This is one of those literary art pieces by an author for whom mathematics... (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 Stargazers (1986)
Barbara Susan Lefever
An historical novel based on Mason and Dixon. (Includes references!) It was self-published in a first printing of 700, and a second printing of 200. The author is/was a member of the Pennsylvania Society... (more)
Straw Dogs (1971)
Sam Peckinpah (Director)
Dustin Hoffman stars as an astrophysicist in this violent Peckinpah film. Before the violence starts, Hoffman's wife plays a trick on him by changing some signs (+/-) in an equation he is working with.... (more)
Those Who Can, Do (1965)
Bob Kurosaka
In this short-short classic, a mathematics professor ends the first day of a Differential Equations class asking for questions. One student is irksome, even peculiar, in his wish to know what practical... (more)
The Three Body Problem (2004)
Highly Rated!
Catherine Shaw
A cleverly titled novel that uses a historical mathematical contest and several characters based on real mathematicians as the basis for a murder mystery. Of special interest is the novel's presentation... (more)
Threshold (2006)
Bragi F. Schut/ Brannon Braga / David S. Goyer / Dan O'Shannon
This science fiction TV series featured a sarcastic dwarf mathematician character. According to Mathematics Goes to the Movies, mathematical highlights included a 4-dimensional alien object intersecting our world in the first episode, references to "isomorphic group therapy [sic]", "monotonic null sequences" and "quadratic reciprocity" in the second, and a strange statistical study in the 11th. (more)
Towel Season (1998)
Highly Rated!
Ron Carlson
A mathematician and his wife try to fit in with their suburban neighbors. Perhaps the best description of the feel of what doing mathematical research is really like. Much of the tension of the... (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)
Verrechnet (2009)
Carl Djerassi/Isabella Gregor
With the help of playwright/director Isabella Gregor, Djerassi updated his play Calculus (Newton's Whores). The plot still revolves around the question of priority on the invention of calculus, and especially... (more)
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 Wild Numbers (1998)
Highly Rated!
Philibert Schogt
Most mathematicians dream of proving a terribly important result. In this novel, mathematician Isaac Swift thinks he has done just that: solved "Beauregard's Wild Number Problem". But is his proof... (more)
The Writing on the Wall (2005)
Steve Stanton
When he was eight years old, David was visited by an image of his future self, causing him to write mathematical formulas on the wall. (Unfortunately, his parents paint over it before he has a chance... (more)
Zero (2009)
Buzz Mauro
An awkward, middle-aged math teacher life stumbles (quite literally) into a sexual relationship with an unusual young woman. The character occasionally thinks in mathematical term. Towards the beginning,... (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)