MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Motif=Time Travel

53 matches found out of 1150 entries

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

The Accidental Time Machine (2007)
Joe Haldeman
A few mathematical ideas are tossed around casually in this light and entertaining science fiction story about a lab assistant who realizes before his boss that the device they are working on can be used... (more)
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall (2012)
Nancy Kress
The last 26 humans alive resort to kidnapping children from the past in order to save themselves from the oppressive aliens who keep them in "The Shell". Mathematics enters in the form of Julie Kahn,... (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 Better Mousetrap (2008)
Tom Holt
The Better Mousetrap is the fifth book in Tom Holt's series that began with The Portable Door. The first four books told the adventures of Paul Carpenter, a fairly boring nobody who joined the... (more)
The Blue Door (2006)
Tanya Barfield
A successful African-American mathematics professor who has tried to ignore racism and its implications for his life is visited by his ancestors during a sleepless night in this critically acclaimed new... (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)
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 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)
Conceiving Ada (1997)
Lynn Hershman-Leeson
Bizarre, low-budget film in which a female computer programmer from the 20th century accesses the memories of Ada Lovelace, the 19th century mathematician and daughter of the poet Lord Byron. The film... (more)
The Curve of the Snowflake (1956)
William Grey Walter
A beautiful and brilliant woman organizes a team of scientists (and a mathematician) who together make fusion energy efficient and invent a flying submarine...and perhaps a time-machine as well. When... (more)
A Deadly Medley of Smedley (2003)
Feargus Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Paradox Patrol officer Julie Anne Callender, with the help of her brother Gregorian and her uncle Newgate, track down yet again the timecrime master of evil Smedley Faversham (and atrocious punmeister)... (more)
Dear Abbey (2003)
Terry Bisson
This novel, which has not received many good reviews and appears only to have been published in Britain, involves a math professor who is a terrorist for environmentalist causes. (That the author chose... (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)
Drode's Equations (1981)
Richard Grant
When this story takes place, the fictional "Drode's Equations" have been lost for so long that they have become practically mythological. And so the historian protagonist is surprised to find them in... (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 Lost Theorem (1994)
Jerry Oltion
This is a neat little story which plays on the fancy that one has found a very simple proof for Fermat's last theorem...if only one can write it down before the epiphany passes. A young mathematician... (more)
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010)
Charles Yu
Fans of mathematical fiction are likely to love the self-referential nature of this novel about a time-machine repairman whose future self travels back in time to give him a novel about a time-machine... (more)
In the Courts of the Sun (2009)
Brian D'Amato
A modern descendant of the Mayans and his former mentor (a game theorist) realize that the famous Mayan prediction that the world will end in the year 2012 is based on some seemingly reasonable math, and... (more)
Infinities (2002)
John Barrow
This play, written by Cambridge cosmologist John Barrow, has been produced and performed in Italy (Milan and Valencia). It is made up of five separate vignettes several of which touch on the deep mathematics... (more)
The Janus Equation (1980)
Steven G. Spruill
In an alternate reality where John Kennedy survived the assassination attempt and replaced all national governments with five all-powerful corporations, an award-winning mathematician tries to invent a... (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 Kingdom of Ohio (2009)
Matthew Flaming
Cheri-Anne Toledo, the daughter of the King of Ohio, uses her mathematical skills (and the assistance of Nikola Tesla) to build a device that is supposed to be able transport people instantaneously from... (more)
The Last Starship from Earth (1968)
Highly Rated!
John Boyd
A mathematician named Haldane IV and a poet named Helix fall in love and try to learn the truth about the famous 19th century mathematician Fairweather I. Unfortunately, both of these things are against... (more)
The Light of Other Days (2000)
Arthur C. Clarke / Stephen Baxter
Using the WormCam (a camera sent through a wormhole in space-time), it is possible to witness any event that is taking or has taken place in the universe. This makes privacy essentially an obsolete... (more)
A Little Mathematician - Katie (2002)
Tadashi Miura
A sweet little book by an author who wanted to be a math teacher and hopes he can "introduce the joy of learning mathematics to every student in this world through this story". A little girl named Katie... (more)
The Loom of God: Mathematical Tapestries at the Edge of Time (1997)
Clifford Pickover
A group of time travelers journey back to the time of Pythagoras in an effort to see the origins of mystical mathematics. The journey continues as they explore numerous links between mathematics, nature and mysticism. Concepts featured: pentagonal numbers, perfect numbers, oblong numbers, the golden ratio, and fractals. Religious implications are also discussed. (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)
Mimsy Were the Borogoves (1943)
Highly Rated!
Lewis Padgett (aka Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore)
Far in the future, humans have not only improved their digestive tracts (eliminating the appendix and shortening their large intestine) and invented a time machine, but they have also invented educational toys... (more)
Nanunculus (1997)
Ian Watson
A mathematician wishes to commit suicide, but is pestered by an automated visitor from the future programmed to make certain that the mathematician discovers the key to time travel before he does. Appears in the collection The Great Escape and first published in Interzone January 1997. (more)
Newton's Gift (1979)
Paul J. Nahin
Time traveller Wallace John Steinhope believes that he will be able to help his hero, Isaac Newton, avoid the tedium of computation by bringing him an electronic calculator that can do simple arithmetic.... (more)
Nice Girl with Five Husbands (1951)
Fritz Leiber
A man is unwittingly swept by a time wind 100 years into the future. He and the people he meets in the future--including the nice girl of the title--talk at cross purposes, but no one realizes... (more)
The Number of the Beast (1979)
Robert A. Heinlein
Engineer and physicist Jacob Burroughs invents a time machine which lets him travel to what we might consider "alternate universes". The underlying mathematics involves the notion that there are in... (more)
Numbercruncher (2013)
Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
A recently deceased mathematician "cracks the recirculation algorithm" and thus is able to control his own reincarnation in the hope of being able to spend more time with the woman he loves. It ends up... (more)
Numbers Don't Lie (2005)
Terry Bisson
This novel is actually just a compilation of three Wilson Wu short stories ("The Hole in the Hole", "The Edge of the Universe" and "Get Me to the Church on Time") which were previously published in Asimov's... (more)
Occam's Razor (1956)
David Duncan
This story involves the concept of discontinuous time embedded in a sort of “Meta-Time”. Essentially, Duncan proposes the idea that True Reality evolves along Meta-Time which is broken up into smaller... (more)
Oracle (2000)
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)
Panda Ray (1996)
Michael Kandel
This science fiction novel is about a dysfunctional family of superbeings (aliens? mutants? humans from the future?) in modern America. It reminds me a bit of the writings of Stanislaw Lem, which is not... (more)
The Planck Dive (1998)
Greg Egan
This short story describes a bizarre experiment in which researchers are cloned (quantum cloning, not the genetic kind; these researchers aren't "fleshers") and sent into a black hole. Their goal is to... (more)
PreVision (1936)
John Pierce
The story hangs its hat on a clever observation made long ago by many physicists, including Einstein, about the nature of solutions of Maxwell's equations. Since the equations are time-symmetric, they... (more)
Ripples in the Dirac Sea (1988)
Highly Rated!
Geoffrey A. Landis
A time machine story based on a combination of Hilbert's Hotel analogy and the "Fermi Sea". We read of the travels of the main character to the ancient past, to the San Francisco earthquake and to the... (more)
River of Gods (2006)
Ian McDonald
A science fiction novel about artificial intelligence, politics, cellular automata, climate change and alternate universes that takes place in India of 2047. Math plays only a very small role in this... (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)
The Shiloh Project (1993)
David R. Beaucage
This is a Christian science fiction novel with mathematical undertones written by an author with a doctorate in mathematics. In it, a Jewish math teacher falsely accused of sexually abusing a student... (more)
Stamping Butterflies (2004)
Jon Courtenay Grimwood
A "going back to change the timelines" SF story involving a reclusive rock star, a suspected terrorist being subjected to harsh tactics by US intelligence, and the young Chinese emperor who rules thousands... (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)
Strange Attractors (1990)
William Sleator
Time-travel story for young adolescents with a little bit of chaotic dynamical systems thrown in. The plot follows Max, a high school student with an interest in math and science, as he becomes involved... (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)
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 Say Nothing of the Dog (1998)
Connie Willis
Travelling through time, as we all know, is a dangerous business. One small change in the past and you could mess up the future! In this science fiction novel, Willis proposes a (vaguely mathematical)... (more)
A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
Madeleine L'Engle
In this classic children's adventure story, "time travel is explained as a tesseract, a five dimensional figure. By traveling along the tesseract, one bypasses the space in between." Usually,... (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)
Ylem (1994)
Eliot Fintushel
Another Fintushel Big-Bang-And-Back Totally-Weird adventure, the plot concerns a business conflict in the helium market. Somebody dickered with the primordial nucleosynthesis, and ... (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)