MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Motif=Prodigies

68 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.)

36 Arguments for the Existence of God (2010)
Rebecca Goldstein
This new novel by Rebecca Goldstein, whose Strange Attractors is one of my favorite works of mathematical fiction, features as two main characters a woman known as "the goddess of game theory" and a Hasidic... (more)
Against the Odds (2001)
Martin Gardner
Luther Washington, a young, African-American boy in Butterfield, KS must overcome several kinds of prejudice to become a mathematician. First, he must face the prejudices of his father that his interest... (more)
Alex Detail's Revolution (2009)
Darren Campo
A teenage genius uses (among other things) knowledge of the Golden Ratio to defeat an alien invasion. Campo handles the description of the math a bit better than some other authors ([cough]...Dan Brown...[cough]) but in the end it is nothing other than a bit of unbelievable mumbo jumbo in an otherwise math-free Sci-Fi adventure. (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)
Arcadia (1993)
Highly Rated!
Tom Stoppard
Stoppard's critically successful play includes long discussions of topics of mathematical interest including: Fermat's Last Theorem and Newtonian determinism, iterated algorithms, the second law of thermodynamics, Fourier's... (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)
The Book of Getting Even (2009)
Benjamin Taylor
A brilliant homosexual teenager uses mathematics as an escape from the pressures of everyday life, including his father, a rabbi in 1970's New Orleans. Along the way, he gets to know (and love, in a variety of ways) the family of a Nobel prize winning physicist and he himself becomes a cosmologist. (more)
Brain Wave (1954)
Poul Anderson
This debut novel from SF superstar Anderson explains that the human intelligence is far more powerful than we have thus far seen. In fact, once we escape from the effects of a force field that is limiting... (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)
Catching Genius (2007)
Kristy Kiernan
A novel about a pair of sisters, one of whom is a "math genius". The title refers to the fact that she thinks "eyecue" is a disease when she first hears as a child that she has a high one and warns her... (more)
The Clueless Girl's Guide to Being a Genius (2011)
Janice Repka
An excellent book for 4th – 5th graders but one I would recommend for all teachers and students. Written as an interlaced, first-person account of two young girls – Aphrodite, who is a math prodigy... (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)
Disciple of the Masses (2008)
Xujun Eberlein
A pathos-filled short story set in rural China toward the end of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. It captures beautifully the sense of loss inherent in a centrally-directed and enforced revolution, with... (more)
Erasmus with Freckles [aka Dear Brigitte] (1963)
John Haase
The novel Erasmus with Freckles (1963) about a college English professor who hates math and science whose son is a math prodigy, was adapted into the film Dear Brigitte (1965) and re-released as a novel... (more)
Evil Genius (2005)
Catherine Jinks
I am pleased to report that the titular "evil genius" in this children's novel is not the stereotypical cold mathematician in so many other works of mathematical fiction. In fact, the title character... (more)
Eye of the Beholder (2005)
Highly Rated!
Alex Kasman
Shortly after a stunning success in her research, personal tragedy forces a math professor to change careers and begin work at the NSA where her work on cryptography involves some difficult ethical decisions.... (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)
Forgotten Milestones in Computing No. 7: The Quenderghast Bullian Algebraic Calculator (1990)
Alex Stewart
A very creative story about a mathematician which History has entirely forgotten - one "Thaddeus Q. Quenderghast III, of Nettlebend, Wyoming". Born around 1821, a contemporary of Charles Babbage and... (more)
The Four-Color Puzzle: Falling Off the Map (2013)
Lior Samson
A math professor becomes intrigued with a high school student he meets at an online tutoring site when she presents him with what appears to be a short and very clever proof of the four-color theorem.... (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 Ganymede Club (1995)
Charles Sheffield
A group of space explorers attempt to protect the secret that they are no longer aging in this well written SF novel. Although these (essentially) immortal characters are not especially mathematical,... (more)
Geek Abroad (2008)
Piper Banks
Miranda Bloom, the mathematical prodigy first introduced in Geek High returns in another novel for teenagers, this time emphasizing her participation in mathematical competitions. For instance, we see... (more)
Geek High (2007)
Piper Banks
Miranda Bloom is a mathematically talented girl trying to deal with normal teenage problems (family, boys, etc.) Although mental calculations have always come easy to Miranda, she does not appear to be... (more)
The Geometry of Sisters (2009)
Luanne Rice
Young Beck hopes her mathematical skills will somehow bring back her dead father. Other reviewers have mostly complained that this novel does not work as the serious family drama it intends to be. From... (more)
Gifted: A Novel (2007)
Nikita Lalwani
This novel tells the coming-of-age story of a girl whose Indian father is a professor of mathematics in Wales. She is talented at mathematics and even uses sophisticated math in her everyday life (e.g.... (more)
A Girl Named Digit (2012)
Annabel Monaghan
A girl nicknamed "Digit" by her classmates because of her mathematical abilities and interests discovers a terrorist plot and begins working with the FBI to catch a double agent in this adventure aimed... (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 God Patent (2009)
Ransom Stephens
After his life falls apart, an engineer tries to revive a collaboration with the fundamentalist Christian with whom he once wrote two patents based on the Bible. While he viewed these patents for what... (more)
Gomez (1954)
Cyril M. Kornbluth
this story is about a physics prodigy, but a mathematical equation appears in it -- the first time I read story the equation didn't make any sense to me, but eventually I realized that it was a... (more)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Gus Van Sant (director) / Matt Damon (Screenplay)
A young janitor at MIT solves a (supposedly) difficult problem left on a black board by a Fields medalist. This successful film did make many more people aware of the existence of the Fields medal.... (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 Infinite Tides (2012)
Christian Kiefer
A somber novel about an astronaut whose daughter dies tragically and wife leaves him while he is in space. Since he and his daughter were both mathematical prodigies, for whom math was not only a beloved... (more)
The Ishango Bone (2012)
Paul Hastings Wilson
Amiele becomes the first female student at Trinity College and goes on to disprove the Riemann Hypothesis at the age of 26, but is denied the Fields Medal. Written as if it were her life story recorded... (more)
It's My Turn (1980)
Claudia Weill (director)
About a mathematician who writes a proof of the Snake Lemma at the speed of light. Her love interest was Michael Douglas, some sort of athlete. One mathematician I know claims he wrote a paper just... (more)
Lepel (2005)
Willem van de Sande Bakhuyzen (director) / Mieke de Jong (screenplay)
In this charming family film from the Netherlands, a boy who believes his name is "Lepel" runs away from the mean button thief who has watched over him since his parents disappeared. If you have come... (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)
The Long Chalkboard (2006)
Jenny Allen / Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)
Allen's book is a collection of three short-short stories spread out over book length with illustrations on every page, in the usual style of children's literature, complete with charmingly simple... (more)
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)
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)
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)
Mefisto: A Novel (1986)
John Banville
Although the mathematics is only discussed in this novel in the vaguest terms, it is of the greatest importance to the book. Gabriel Swan, the main character/narrator is so focused on numbers and equations... (more)
Mercury Rising (1998)
Harold Becker (director)
Bruce Willis is an FBI agent trying to protect an autistic child whose mathematical abilities allow him to break the government's top secret codes. Now, it is true that some of the most frequently used... (more)
Misfit (1939)
Robert A. Heinlein
A crew of misfits ships out to the asteroid belt. One member turns out to be a misfit among the misfits: he's a mathematical prodigy. His skills prove to be very valuable. reprinted in THE PAST... (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)
No One You Know (2008)
Michelle Richmond
Having felt overshadowed by her mathematician older sister when she was alive, the main character becomes obsessed with her murder after the sister is killed. Using her sister's notebook describing her... (more)
Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) (2006)
Justina Chen Headley
This is a novel for young adults about a half Asian teenager who is sent to a summer Math Camp at Stanford by her overprotective mother. She enjoys the camp more than she expected to, until her mother... (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)
Numberland (1987)
George Weinberg
The co-author (with John Schumaker) of STATISTICS: AN INTUITIVE APPROACH, and practicing psychotherapist, tells a charming little fable about Numberland. Peace, harmony,... (more)
Numbers (2009)
Dana Dane
Hip Hop artist Dana Dane wrote this novel about a NYC youth with mathematical talent who gets caught up in a life of crime. There is no actual mathematics discussed. Rather, it appears in a few brief comments only to justify the protagonist's nickname of "Numbers" and presumably to convince us that he had the potential for a bright future under the right circumstances. (more)
Prince of Mathematics: Carl Friedrich Gauss (2006)
Margaret B.W. Tent
A fictionalized account of the life and achievements of one of history's greatest mathematicians, told in a style which is appropriate for children but also maintains the interest of adult readers. (I'm... (more)
Pythagoras' Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery (2009)
Arturo Sangalli
Freelance science journalist Sangalli has written a book which presents some historical information about Pythagoras and his beliefs in the form of a novel of the detail driven conspiracy theory adventure... (more)
Ratner's Star (1976)
Highly Rated!
Don DeLillo
Billy Terwilliger (aka Twillig) is not your typical 14 year old boy. True, he is beginning to get interested in sex and thinks that the word "fart" is entertaining, but he is also a number theorist and... (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)
Regarding Roderer (1994)
Guillermo Martinez
A short novel about Gustavo Roderer, a brilliant but troubled young man in Argentina. Mathematics is not a central theme, but arises as Roderer's friend (the narrator) talks with him about the philosophical... (more)
A Rite of Spring (1977)
Fritz Leiber
Leiber has stretched out a very flimsy story line into a 50-page trivia-fest on the number seven. A genius of a mathematician yearns for his childhood ability to visualize and play with mathematics as... (more)
Simple Genius (2007)
David Baldacci
A small child with an inexplicable ability to factor large numbers threatens the security of the Western world in this political thriller from popular author Baldacci. Although it is nice to see mathematics... (more)
Sophie's Diary (2004)
Highly Rated!
Dora Musielak
Sophie Germain famously studied mathematics at night by candlelight despite her parents' insistence that she give up this unfeminine discipline. She then went on to become one of the great mathematician's... (more)
Star, Bright (1952)
Highly Rated!
Mark Clifton
How would you feel if your daughter could make deep mathematical discoveries, even when she was a toddler? If you were the parent of little Star in this story, you'd feel a combination of pride and... (more)
Tangents (1986)
Greg Bear
There are far too many mathematical stories about finding a way to travel into "other dimensions". Still, this one is one of my favorites. Not only do we see a clever approach to this "old" storyline,... (more)
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels (2007)
Jasper Fforde
As Vijay Fafat points out, the eponymous heroine of this series of humorous, fantasy mysteries has a daughter who is a math prodigy. Among other things, in this novel she finds a counter-example to Fermat's... (more)
Time, Like an Ever Rolling Stream (1992)
Judith Moffett
The aliens have come to save us from ourselves (which they do by passing environmental laws and sterilizing all humans to prevent overpopulation). One of the aliens, as a pet project, recruits eight young... (more)
Without a Trace (Episode: Claus and Effect) (2007)
David Amann (writer) / Alicia Kirk (writer) / Bobby Roth (Director)
In this Christmas special episode of the TV crime drama, a department store Santa turns out to be a mathematical prodigy who has quit his job as a mathematician/programmer due to ethical concerns that his work will cause others to lose their jobs. He becomes involved in a scheme to make money by applying mathematics to gambling. (more)
The Wizard (1989)
C.S. Godshalk
A mathematically talented youth in a bad neighborhood becomes a drug dealer and may not be able to take advantage of his genius by attending the private school which has offered him a scholarship. In... (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)
WWW: Wake (2009)
Robert J. Sawyer
A blind math prodigy uses her ability to "see" what is going on in the Internet (watch out for the pun: Websight) to discover the emergence of a virtual life form. This is a solid and very readable hard... (more)
Young Archimedes (1924)
Aldous Huxley
A couple vacationing in Italy meet a peasant boy with strong mathematical abilities. The most mathematical portion of the text is a discussion of a proof of the Pythagorean theorem which the boy develops.... (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)