MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About


Motif=Insanity

73 matches found out of 1158 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)
According to the Law (1996)
Solvej Balle
Four interconnected stories are told which wrap around onto themselves like a M¨bius strip. But, it is not only the structure of the story that is mathematical. In the first we meet a biochemist... (more)
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)
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)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Sylvia Nasar / Akiva Goldsman
Although the book A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr. is not fictional, Ron Howard's film (released December 2001) most certainly is. (I say this not as a complaint, but just to justify... (more)
The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or the Segregation of the Queen (1994)
Laurie R. King
A retired Sherlock Holmes, now tending bees in Sussex Downs, develops a friendship with a 15 year old orphan named Mary Russell. By all accounts, Mary proves to be a great partner for Holmes as they attempt... (more)
Belonging to Karovsky (2002)
Kathryn Schwille
This short story, published in the literary magazine Crazyhorse concerns the boring and lonely Mr. Digby who was the downstairs neighbor of Karovsky, the brilliant (but of course, seriously insane) mathematician... (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 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)
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)
Brazzaville Beach (1990)
William Boyd
Main character is a women studying chimpanzees in Africa, but her ex-husband is a set theorist who goes mad because he fails to prove a theorem. One of my favourite authors, and one of his best... (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)
Context (2005)
John Meaney
This is the second book in the Nulapeiron Sequence by John Meaney. The protagonist is still Tom Corcorigan, who in the first novel rose from slavery to royalty in part because of his "logosophical" (read... (more)
Continuums (2008)
Highly Rated!
Robert Carr
The decisions we make and the difficulty in accepting the consequences is the main focus of this book about a Romanian mathematician who leaves her country and her daughter to be in a place that she could... (more)
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)
A Disappearing Number (2007)
Highly Rated!
Simon McBurney
Scenes of Srinivasa Ramanujan's collaboration with G.H. Hardy around the time of World War I are mixed in with modern storylines including an Indian physicist who has applied Ramanujan's work to String... (more)
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)
Domaine (2009)
Patric Chiha (screenplay and director)
This subtle, slow and depressing French film concerns the relationship between a homosexual teenager and his alcoholic aunt. She is a math professor whose research is connected to Gödel's Theorem, and... (more)
Drunkard's Walk (1960)
Frederik Pohl
A number theorist is suffering from frequent and inexplicable suicide attempts, the latest victim of a small epidemic among academia. In between lectures on Pascal's triangle and the binomial theorem... (more)
Enigma (1995)
Robert Harris / Tom Stoppard
In this this espionage story set in England's Bletchley Park at the height of the Second World War, Tom Jericho is a clever mathematician at the famous code breaking facility who -- either despite or because... (more)
The Fairy Chessmen (1951)
Henry Kuttner
A mathematician whose research involves a type of chess played with variable rules ("fairy chess") is the only one able to solve an "equation from the future" in which the constants are treated as variables... (more)
Fermat's Room (La Habitacion de Fermat) (2007)
Luis Piedrahita / Rodrigo Sopeña
In this Spanish thriller, four mathematicians are invited to a booby trapped room where they must solve mathematical puzzles to prevent the walls from closing in and crushing them. This leaves them little... (more)
Flea Circus: A Brief Bestiary of Grief (2012)
Mandy Keifetz
A mathematically inclined woman deals with her grief over the suicide of her lover, an entomologist who runs a flea circus, in this award winning novel. Although the cover summary describes her as a... (more)
The Fringe (Episode: The Equation) (2008)
J.R. Orci (Screenplay) / David H. Goodman (Screenplay)
The ``Fringe Team'' (an FBI agent, a mad scientist and his son) investigate a series of kidnappings in which the victim is hypnotized with red and green lights. In each case, the victim was about to... (more)
The Ghost from the Grand Banks (1990)
Arthur C. Clarke
The topics change from the Titanic to a giant octopus but a central one is the Mandelbrot set. We are introduced to mathematician-cum-computer wizard Edith Craig who invents software to fix the Y2K... (more)
Good Benito (1994)
Highly Rated!
Alan P. Lightman
This novel presents many instances in the life of mathematical physicist Bennett Lang, the "Benito" of the title. The different scenes, presented non-chronologically, cover most of his life from early... (more)
Habitus (1998)
James Flint
There is no doubt that this novel is a work of mathematical fiction, but I'm not sure how to describe it. I think the best word for it may be "uneven". It does some great things, both presenting some... (more)
Hannah, Divided (2002)
Highly Rated!
Adele Griffin
The story of a 13 year old girl living in rural Pennsylvania in 1934, "Hannah" presents us with yet another fictional account of someone who is not only talented in mathematics but also psychologically... (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)
Homage (1995)
Ross Kagan Marks (director) / Mark Medoff (screenplay)
This film (and the 1994 play "The Homage that Follows" on which it was based) explores the mind of a murderer, who in this case happens to be a man with a Ph.D. in mathematics. He turns down a position... (more)
Immune Dreams (1978)
Ian Watson
A creepy but interesting story that combines the genetics of cancer, the neurology of dreaming, immunology, and the mathematics of catastrophe theory (a precursor of what we now call "chaos theory"). ... (more)
Improbable (2005)
Highly Rated!
Adam Fawer
A probability expert suffering from epilepsy (with hints of schizophrenia) is in over his head with gambling debts to the Russian mob and a beautiful, renegade CIA agent before discovering that he has the ability to predict the future. A running subplot is the mathematical aspects of determinism (i.e. (more)
Incompleteness (2004)
Apostolos Doxiadis
A play by the author of Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture on the last, sad days in the life of Kurt Gödel. After a "workshop production" in Athens, Greece (June 24-28, 2003) the show's official... (more)
Inflexible Logic (1940)
Russell Maloney
There is a famous example of probability which (in one of its many forms) states that six chimpanzees randomly typing at six typewriters would eventually reproduce all of the books in the British museum.... (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)
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)
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)
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)
Logicomix (2008)
Highly Rated!
Apostolos Doxiadis / Christos Papadimitriou
A graphic novel on the history of mathematical logic by the authors of Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture and Turing. In an interview (available online here) Papadimitriou says: It is really... (more)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 Oxford Murders (2004)
Guillermo Martinez
A young, Argentinian mathematician visiting the UK is drawn into a murder mystery when his landlord (a woman who had worked as a code breaker during World War II) is killed. A clue and the words "The... (more)
Pi (1998)
Highly Rated!
Darren Aronofsky (director)
A mathematician discovers a new relationship between chaos theory and the number Pi which makes him a target of a dangerous religious sect and a greedy investor. The references to mathematics and its... (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)
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)
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)
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)
Shakespeare Predicted it All (2003)
Dietmar Dath
An artistically composed piece about Georg Cantor, inventor of the theory of transfinite cardinals, in the form of a dialogue between the characters "1" and "2", both of whom are either Cantor or Hamlet.... (more)
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 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)
Strange Attractors (2013)
Charles Soule (author) / Greg Scott (Illustrator)
This is is graphic novel in which a mathematics student seeks the help of a seemingly insane genius who claims he has been using chaos theory to save the city of New York from disaster for decades. Heller... (more)
Strip Search (2007)
William Bernhardt
A detective is aided by an autistic child in capturing a serial killer who leaves equations written in the blood of his victims at the scenes of the grisly crimes. In your MathFiction entry for William... (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)
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)
Tigor (aka The Snowflake Constant) (1991)
Peter Stephan Jungk
In this novel, a mathematics professor is emotionally wounded to the point of temporary insanity by the lack of acceptance of his geometric theory of snowflakes and runs away. His journey takes him to... (more)
Touch-Me-Not (2010)
Cynthia Riggs
In this installment of a series of mystery novels set on Martha's Vineyard, an electrician accidentally murders an employee who was blackmailing him and then is killed himself. Throughout most 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)
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)
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)
Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture (1992)
Highly Rated!
Apostolos Doxiadis
This novel, recently (2000) translated from Greek, follows the attempts of fictional mathematician Petros Papachristos to prove Goldbach's Conjecture (that every even number greater than two is the sum... (more)
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)
Waiting for Citizen Gödel (2005)
Howard V. Hendrix
Short story revolving around Godel's application for US citizenship. There is a well-known episode from Godel's life, where Einstein and Oscar Morgenstern took Godel for his citizenship oath. Godel,... (more)
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)

Home All New Browse Search About

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)