MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Motif=Math as Beautiful/Exciting/Useful

68 matches found out of 1149 entries

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

The 39 Steps (1935)
Alfred Hitchcock (director)
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 thriller follows the getaway of Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), a man accused of murder. While Hannay must outsmart the police in his escape, he also finds himself sought... (more)
7 Steps to Midnight (1993)
Richard Matheson
In this unnerving, `Kafka-esque' suspense novel by well known horror author Richard Matheson, a government mathematician sees reality collapse around him as his life is turned into a surrealistic version... (more)
The Ah of Life (2010)
Banks Helfrich (Writer and Director)
At the beginning of this film we see various stages in the life of Nigel. We see him as a high school student about to fail math due to lack of interest in the subject. We see him as an old man who enjoys... (more)
The Art Student's War (2009)
Brad Leithauser
In this novel, Bea Paradiso is an art student during World War II who makes portraits of wounded soldiers. (Not coincidentally, the author's mother-in-law did the same, and the book is enhanced by the... (more)
The Bones of Time (1996)
Kathleen Ann Goonan
A young 21st century mathematician named Cen (short for Century) Kalakaua falls in love with a 19th century Hawaiian princess when they meet through an unusual temporal phenomenon. He becomes obsessed... (more)
Buried Alive at the End of the World (2011)
Blair Bourrassa
A completely paralyzed mathematician receives congratulations from colleagues and other hospital visitors on the culmination of his research in a large scale physics experiment that is about to be conducted..but... (more)
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (1955)
Highly Rated!
Jean Lee Latham
The life of early American mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch, famous for his work on techniques of navigation, is fictionalized in this novel for young adults. Although the mathematical details are not... (more)
A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel (2007)
Highly Rated!
Gaurav Suri / Hartosh Singh Bal
The intertwined stories of Ravi, a Stanford student taking a course on "Infinity" in the 1980's, and his grandfather who was jailed for blasphemy in New Jersey in 1919 constitute a philosophical investigation... (more)
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)
Distances (2008)
Vandana Singh
Most members of Anasunya's species have "a gift". Since she has a gift of mathematics, she leaves her aquatic home and begins working at the Temple of Mathematical Arts. She has a gift that allows... (more)
Dragon's Egg (1980)
Robert L. Forward
[In this science fiction novel], the crew of the first spaceship to ever visit a neutron star discover that the star is inhabited by a race - the Cheela - whose metabolism is based on nuclear reactions... (more)
Eifelheim (2006)
Michael Flynn
In this award winning science fiction novel, Tom and Sharon have a lot in common. They share an apartment, both use sophisticated mathematics in their research, and both become completely obsessed with... (more)
The End of Mr. Y (2006)
Scarlett Thomas
After her thesis advisor disappears, a graduate students studying "thought experiments" in science and in fiction discovers a copy of the rare (and supposedly cursed) book "The End of Mr. Y". Following... (more)
Evariste and Heloise (2008)
Marco Abate
This contribution to the collection The Shape of Content is difficult to classify. Combining fiction and fact, essay and comic book, fantasy and philosophy, it essentially takes the form of a proposal... (more)
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 Flight That Disappeared (1961)
Reginald Le Borg (Director)
An unsuspecting mathematician and some scientists are taken to another dimension where they stand trial for their involvement in the creation of horrible weapons. Perhaps during the Cold War and before... (more)
Flowers Stained with Moonlight (2005)
Catherine Shaw
In this sequel to The Three-Body Problem, Vanessa Duncan is called upon to save an innocent young woman, falsely suspected of murdering her older and unlikable husband. Although there is no mathematics... (more)
Gallactic Alliance - Translight! (2009)
Doug Farren
A human scientist invents a new branch of mathematics, "continuum calculus", as the basis for a stardrive. At one point, he compares his mathematical constructions with those of an alien species who have... (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)
A Higher Geometry (2006)
Highly Rated!
Sharelle Byars Moranville
A teenage girl in the 1950's pursues her dream of becoming a mathematician in the American midwest over a background of sexism, romance and Cold War politics. This fictional account mirrors some of the... (more)
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)
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)
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)
Letters to a Young Mathematician (2006)
Highly Rated!
Ian Stewart
I listed this one here before I had a chance to read it and am now wondering whether it should be counted as fiction at all. This is an excellent book which provides a lot of useful information about... (more)
Lost (2011)
Tamora Pierce
A mathematically talented little girl from a mystical medieval realm is abused by her anti-intellectual father and unappreciated by a mean math teacher who insists that she show all of her work. However,... (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)
Mathematica (1936)
John Russell Fearn
Using a strange metal which gives them the power to change reality with their thoughts, two humans either summon or create an alien who explains to them that reality is mathematics. Together, they seek... (more)
Mathematica Plus (1936)
John Russell Fearn
In this sequel to Mathematica, the humans, now knowing that everything is mathematics and having been made immortal by the ultimate mathematician, encounter a race of beings somewhere between material... (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)
Maths on a Plane (2008)
Phil Trinh
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)
Maxwell's Equations (2005)
Alex Kasman
James Clerk Maxwell was the 19th century theoretician who discovered electro-magnetic waves. He is often described as a "physicist", but I would argue that he was a mathematician. Certainly some of his... (more)
Mozart on Morphine (1989)
Gregory Benford
A mathematician nearly loses his life to appendicitis. While sedated in the hospital, he describes the loony stuff that flits through his head, and how it relates to the subjective and personal processes... (more)
Music of the Spheres (2011)
Ken Liu
The short stories in the anthology Mirror Shards all focus on augmented reality (AR), the idea that our perception of the world around us will be fundamentally changed by the use of advanced technology.... (more)
The Nature of Smoke (1996)
Anne Harris
Science fiction thriller combining genetic engineering and chaos theory. The math is not presented in a way that conveys any real meaning to the reader, but perhaps some feeling for the beauty of math... (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)
NUMB3RS (2005)
Highly Rated!
Nick Falacci / Cheryl Heuton
This TV crime drama (premiered January 2005) follows the adventures of a pair of brothers, one a mathematics professor and the other an FBI agent, as they combine forces to solve mysteries. Cool effects... (more)
The Number Devil (Der Zahlenteufel) (1997)
Highly Rated!
Hans Magnus Enzensberger
"The title may be translated as The Counting Devil, or maybe The Number Devil, and it has a subtitle that translates to 'a pillowbook for everyone who is afraid of math'. Enzensberger is a respected... (more)
Nuremberg Joys (2000)
Charles Sheffield
A mathematician is on trial for war crimes, regarding his role in developing an absolutely horrendous killing weapon based on sophisticated new physics. Guilt or ... (more)
The Object (2005)
Alex Kasman
This is a mathematical horror story, written by someone who doesn't like horror stories. Since I'm the author, I can honestly (and humbly) admit that the result is kind of weird. The plot concerns... (more)
The Ore Miner's Wife (2003)
Karl Iagnemma
A miner who spends his spare time secretly working on geometry problems arouses the suspicions of his God fearing wife when she comes upon his cryptic writings and follows him to a meeting with a visiting... (more)
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)
Psychohistorical Crisis (2001)
Donald Kingsbury
In the far future, a group of "psychohistorians" controls the fate of humanity using the mathematical theory of "the founder" in this unauthorized "sequel" to Asimov's Foundation series. Kingsbury's lengthy... (more)
Pythagoras Eagle & the Music of the Spheres (2003)
Anne Carse Nolting
A very well-written, highly mathematical novel for 5th – 6th graders. Three children – Shawna, Adin and Tavia – are math aficionados and are trying to crack the Beale Ciphers, a set of 3 documents... (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)
Return from the Stars (1961)
Stanislaw Lem
This book contains some of the most realistic sounding fictional mathematics I have ever read, as well as some very high praise for mathematics (from a fictional character). In this book, an astronaut... (more)
Risqueman (2009)
Mike Wood
A brilliant (and beautiful) French mathematician is distressed by governmental misuse of her algorithm which accurately predicts accidents and disasters that previously were only determined probabilistically.... (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)
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)
Sorority House (1956)
Jordan Park (Cyril M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl)
Sorority House is a lesbian pulp novel written in 1956 by Cyril M. Kornbluth (1923-1958) and Frederik Pohl (1919- ) under the pen name "Jordan Park". The main character is a mentally unstable young... (more)
Starman Jones (1953)
Robert A. Heinlein
These adventures of Max Jones, a boy who runs away from Ozark home and works his way up the ranks of a starship is a nice example of classical science fiction as well as being a bit mathematical. The... (more)
Sticks (2002)
Joan Bauer
Fifth grader Mickey Vernon gets help from his "math whiz" friend in beating a bully at pool in this novel for children. Some reviewers complained that the plot was slow and that the harping on 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)
Timescape (1979)
Gregory Benford
On the positive side, we have a clever idea that shows some of the flavor of modern mathematical physics, some positive comments about mathematics and mathematical name-dropping, and even some mathematical... (more)
To Hold Infinity (1998)
John Meaney
Meaney's first novel, which only saw its US release in 2006, is not quite as mathematical as some of his later books, but the foundations are there. We encounter "mu-space" (additional spatial dimensions... (more)
Torn Curtain (1966)
Alfred Hitchcock (Director)
Professor Armstrong (Paul Newman) pretends to defect to the other side of the iron curtain to learn of the secret "star wars"-like defense plan discovered by the brilliant (by his own account) Dr. Lindt. Fiancee... (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)
Turbulence (2010)
Giles Foden
A British meteorologist is stationed in Scotland during World War II not to simply run a weather station (which is his cover), but to get to know the brilliant Wallace Ryman and learn to use his mathematical... (more)
Turing (A Novel About Computation) (2003)
Highly Rated!
Christos Papadimitriou
The four vertices of an unlikely love "rectangle" are (a) a dying, maverick cryptographer, (b) a pregnant Internet wiz, (c) a romantic middle-aged Greek archaeologist and (d) Turing, an artificially intelligent... (more)
Turjan of Miir (The Dying Earth) (1950)
Jack Vance
The classic fantasy novel "The Dying Earth" is actually more like a collection of short stories, separate vignettes that share some common features but stand entirely alone. The first of these stories... (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)
Two Moons (2000)
Thomas Mallon
A historical novel set in Washington DC of the late 19th century in which astronomers and the Naval Observatory (aided by the "computer" Cynthia May) deal with scientific and political matters of the... (more)
The Ultimate Analysis (1944)
John Russell Fearn
This one is a hurriedly thrown together mish-mash of mathematical statements which make no sense when examined individually but taken together, form a breathless pulp story about a mathematician who... (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)
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)
Voyage of the Shadowmoon (2002)
Sean McMullen
Emperor Warsovran plans to take over the world with Silverdeath, a magical weapon buried centuries ago for fear that its power would be misused. Silverdeath unleashes circles of fiery destruction obeying... (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)