
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) 


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) 


The Adventures of Topology Man (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

Parody is easy....topology is hard!
In this short story, I made use of (and made fun of) the classic superhero comic book genre to illustrate some ideas from topology. So, we end up seeing a battle... (more) 


Against the Day (2006) 
 Thomas Pynchon 

This novel, set in the time frame 1890s to 1920s interleaves several
plots and styles, from boys' adventures to peacetime spies to gunslingers'
revenges. The forces of progress stomp over all the... (more) 


Against the Odds (2001) 
 Martin Gardner 

Luther Washington, a young, AfricanAmerican 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) 


The Algebraist (2005) 
 Iain M. Banks 

Fassin Taak is a human in the year 4034 who has the job of communicating with the alien species known as "the dwellers". Since the dweller culture is billions of years old, they have accumulated tremendous... (more) 


Alphabet (2002) 
 Chelsea Spear 

A silent, short film which shows intertwined clips of a young girl playing the french horn and answering a question at the board in her algebra class. Reviews of the film that I've read suggest that she... (more) 


Another New Math (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

A mathematician and his young daughter try to convince a school board to consider teaching advanced mathematics to elementary school children in this short story that appeared in the collection Reality... (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 Bed and the Bachelor (2011) 
 Tracy Anne Warren 

Although it involves cryptography and the Napoleonic wars, this novel is really more of a romance than it is historical fiction or espionage.
Sebastianne Dumont is the daughter of a French mathematician... (more) 


The Bees of Knowledge (1975) 
 Barrington J. Bayley 

It's a story about a traveller marooned on a planet, part of which is populated by giant bees which collect the "nectar of knowledge" and make "honey of experience" out of that nectar. The story has a... (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) 


Blue Tigers (1977) 
 Jorge Luis Borges 

The protagonist, a Scotsman, chases down reports of a blue species of tigers sighted in village in Punjab, Pakistan. He never finds a blue tiger but ends up obtaining some magical stones on a hillside... (more) 


The Book of Irrational Numbers (1999) 
 Michael Marshall Smith 

The protagonist of this short story views everything through the filter of numerology. His journal entries detail his considerations of digital roots, perfect numbers, irrational numbers, and even Wilson’s... (more) 


Book of Knut: a novel by Knut Knudson (2012) 
 Halvor Aakhus 

Halvor Aakhus, who has an undergraduate degree in math and an MFA in writing, wrote this unusual work of fiction that takes the form of a novel by an apparently dead author named Knut Knudson which has... (more) 


Border Guards (1999) 
 Greg Egan 

In a virtual universe shaped like a 3torus, free from disease and death, Jamil is easily depressed but enjoys playing a game of quantum soccer with his old friends, and one new friend. The new friend... (more) 


Borzag and the Numerical Apocalypse (2006) 
 Jason Earls 

I must warn you that I am a trained mathematician, but NOT a trained expert on literature. Among other consequences, this means that I sometimes have trouble telling the difference between brilliant,... (more) 


The Calculus of Love (2011) 
 Dan Clifton (Writer and Director) 

A professor who is obsessed with proving Goldbach's Conjecture challenges a class of graduate students to make any progress on it. But, is he truly motivated by a love of pure mathematics and its search... (more) 


Cardano and the Case of the Cubic (2005) 
 Jeff Adams 

This parody of early 20th century "Hard Boiled Private Detective" novels is instead a short story about 16th century mathematician Gerolamo Cardano.
Its opening paragraphs clearly set the tone:
It... (more) 


Case of Lies (2005) 
 Perri O'Shaughnessy 

An old, unsolved casino murder becomes mathematical when three of the witnesses turn out to have been math students using their skills to win at gambling. Quite a bit of detailed discussion of number... (more) 


The Cat in Numberland (2006) 
 Ivar Ekeland (author) / John O'Brien (illustrator) 

This picture book uses the idea of a hotel with infintely many rooms for introducing some advanced concepts about numbers and infinity to children. The hotel, run in the book by "Mr. and Mrs. Hilbert",... (more) 


The Center of the Universe (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

This short story was intended to serve two different purposes. On the one hand it is a glimpse into the lives and interactions of mathematics graduate students. And, on the other, it addresses the philosophical... (more) 


Child's Play (1986) 
 Isaac Asimov 

Young Griswold uses something he just learned
in elementary school math class to solve a minor stumper. (Be
warned: the problem has a minor bug. Change "mix" to "nix".)
Published in the... (more) 


Coconuts (1926) 
 Ben Ames Williams 

The story is a very nicely written tale of one man, Wadlin, whose only passion in life is mathematics  numbers, puzzles, Diophantine equations ("indeterminates"), statistics. As the author describes... (more) 


Cocoon of Terror (2008) 
 Jason Earls 

The protagonist in the latest novel by Jason Earls spends his time hunting down the evil and semimystical artist Zelian, and much of his spare time finding integers with interesting aesthetic and number... (more) 


Code to Zero (2000) 
 Ken Follett 

This thriller is set in 1958, with backdrop the first successful launching
of a US satellite. Several of the characters are mathematicians turned
rocket scientists. They frequently muse rather explicitly... (more) 


Confusions of Young Torless (1906) 
 Robert Musil 

A semiautobiographical novel set in a military
academy in a desolate corner of the AustroHungarian empire, is the
story of the intellectual awakening of an intelligent adolescent, and
contains several... (more) 


Contact (1985) 
 Carl Sagan 

This is a fantastic novel; don't skip it just because you saw the
movie. Mathematics plays an important role in the book, much more so
than in the film. In both, Ellie Arroway detects a message from... (more) 


Continuums (2008) 
 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) 


Coyote Moon (2003) 
 John A. Miller 

Well, this book is hard to describe! It's certainly different and not easily categorizable. It is a novel that addresses the question "What if a young, nerdy, MIT mathematics professor died of cancer... (more) 


Cryptonomicon (1998) 
 Neal Stephenson 

This "cult" novel of mathematics, computer science, espionage and
warfare follows a mathematician through World War II and his grandson
through the creation of a (less than ordinary) silicon valley startup
company.... (more) 


Cube (1997) 
 Vincenzo Natali (Director) 

This [film] concerns the attempt of six individuals to escape from a vast network
of interlocking cubes, each room, and each wall, floor and ceiling
identical. The rooms vary in colour. Some are harmless;... (more) 


The Cube Root of Conquest (1948) 
 Rog Phillips 

An evil dictator's plan to destroy and conquer the world is based on the
work of one of his scientists, which allows travel into complex components
of time. In order to do this, one is required to solve... (more) 


Dark as Day (2002) 
 Charles Sheffield 

Alex Ligon, though unbelievably rich, chooses to work voluntarily at a government
agency where his predictive models for the future of the human race (based,
he claims, on the principles of statistical... (more) 


The Devil a Mathematician Would Be (1962) 
 A.J. Lohwater 

This clever short story that captures the feeling of a math problem that "gets under your skin" was printed in
The Mathematical Magpie
and was said to have been "collected" by A.J. Lohwater. Well, I... (more) 


The Devil and Simon Flagg (1954) 
 Arthur Porges 

Mathematicians know the feeling of trying to prove something you
really believe to be true, but has never been proven. There is
pleasure in doing this, like solving a puzzle, but also frustration
and... (more) 


Diamond Dogs (2001) 
 Alistair Reynolds 

This novella by a trained astrophysicist who has worked for the European Space Agency features an alien designed "death trap" that challenges people with difficult mathematical puzzles. In an interview,... (more) 


Diary of a Bad Year (2007) 
 John Maxwell Coetzee 

J.M. Coetzee has a Nobel Prize in literature (2003) and an undergraduate degree in mathematics (University of Cape Town, 1961). It is therefore not too surprising to find him included in my list of mathematical... (more) 


A Disappearing Number (2007) 
 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) 


Disciple of the Masses (2008) 
 Xujun Eberlein 

A pathosfilled short story set in rural China toward the end of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. It captures beautifully the sense of loss inherent in a centrallydirected and enforced revolution, with... (more) 


Division by Zero (1991) 
 Ted Chiang 

Answers the question: what would happen if we found out that
mathematics is inconsistent? This is a great piece of
mathematical fiction. (Thanks to Frank Chess who pointed it out to
me.)
Renee... (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) 


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) 


Elegantly, In the Least Number of Steps (2012) 
 Monica McFawn 

A young man named Aaron who works at a company that releases butterflies at events is attacked and seriously wounded right after he finally finds a proof of the Birch and SwinnertonDyer Conjecture. That... (more) 


Empire of the Ants (1991) 
 Bernard Werber 

This is a fascinating first novel. Published in France under the title "Les Fourmis" in 1991 and translated into English as "Empire of the Ants" (not to be confused with the H G Wells story
or movie... (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 Eternal Flame [Orthogonal Book Two] (2012) 
 Greg Egan 

This second novel in Egan's "Orthogonal Trilogy" continues to follow the scientific and mathematical discoveries of creatures on a space ship hoping to find a way to save their home world. That plot and... (more) 


Evariste Galois (1965) 
 Alexadre Astruc (writer and director) 

Short film about the romantic and tragic death of Galois, the young mathematician whose research laid the foundation for Group Theory. I haven't actually seen the film, but the following quote (stolen... (more) 


The Exception (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

Written in the form of a dialogue between a man in a nursing home and his grandchild, this short story describes an undergraduate research project that produces a surprising answer to one of the most famous... (more) 


The Expert (1999) 
 Lee Gruenfeld 

A technolegal thriller centered on a trial over cryptographic
exportation. The chip in question uses properties of large Mersenne
primes to provide an unbreakable code. This explanation seems to... (more) 


Eye of the Beholder (2005) 
 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) 


A Fable for Moderns (1955) 
 Lord Dunsany 

A bank employee becomes bored with the restrictions of arithmetic and decides to let his mathematical computations enjoy the freedom of "modern" poets and artists. Although he loses his job at the bank,... (more) 



Für immer in Honig (Forever in Honey) (2005) 
 Dietmar Dath 

Site visitor Hauke Reddmann writes from Germany to tell me about this experimental German novel which includes diagrams from category theory. (For those who might not know, category theory is an abstract... (more) 


The Feeling of Power (1957) 
 Isaac Asimov 

An advanced society rediscovers the joys
of multipying numbers BY HAND, a forgotten art. It's a
gem.
The
author probably did not realize how quickly the premise of this story
(people so dependent... (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) 


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) 


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) 


Fermat's Last Tango (2000) 
 Joanne Sydney Lessner / Joshua Rosenblum 

Fermat's Last Tango is an intelligently written, hilarious fantasia
based on Andrew Wiles' 1993 proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. The main plot consists of a love triangle between Daniel
Keane... (more) 


The Fibonacci Confessions (2010) 
 Graham Wade 

A historical novel telling the life story of Leonardo Pisano, perhaps the most famous European mathematician of the Middle Ages, better known today as Fibonacci.
We know very little of the historical... (more) 


Fillet of Man (1995) 
 Eliot Fintushel 

A first contact short short. Prime numbers are the way humans
and the aliens recognize each other. And the alien spaceship
"looked like a topologist's diagram of an exploded torus".
Published in ASIMOV'S (Sept 95) pp112115.
(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) 


The Flight of the Dragonfly (aka Rocheworld) (1984) 
 Robert L. Forward 

A crew of humans travel to a distant planet to meet the intelligent
lifeform we have discovered there. They turn out to be a race largely
interested in mathematical problems (sounds very reasonable... (more) 


Flowers Stained with Moonlight (2005) 
 Catherine Shaw 

In this sequel to The ThreeBody 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) 


The Fourth Dynasty (1936) 
 R.R. Winterbotham 

A confused story of a couple (Victor and Georgiana) who go into
cryogenic suspended animation for a million and a half years and wake
up in the era of the Fourth Dynasty, the age of the Kora (first... (more) 


The French Mathematician (1998) 
 Tom Petsinis 

A fictionalized account (in first person) of the life and untimely
death of Evariste Galois, originator of the mathematical subject now
known as group theory.
This is a story about a mathematician,... (more) 


Funes el Memorioso [Funes, His Memory] (1942) 
 Jorge Luis Borges 

Borges’ short story piece, “Funes, His Memory’ (or in other translations, “Funes, The Memorious”) discusses the phenomenal memory of an acquaintance, Ireneo Funes. Funes, at age nineteen,... (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) 



A Gebra Named Al (1993) 
 Wendy Isdell 

In this story, Julie falls asleep on her algebra book after
spending a few frustrating minutes trying to finish her homework. An
imaginary number comes to visit her in her room, and transports her
to... (more) 


Genghis Khan and 888 (2005) 
 Jason Earls 

As one might guess from the title of the literary journal in which it was published ("Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens #4"), this story is a bit strange. According to the author, it is absurdist... (more) 


Getaway from Getawehi (1969) 
 Colin Kapp 

Colin Kapp has written a few stories which have some good, hard SF mixed up with highly tongueincheek, believable flights of fancy. The present story is set on the single planet, Getawehi, of a rogue... (more) 


Getting the Combination (1982) 
 Isaac Asimov 

Griswold figures out a combination by correctly guessing
the next number in a sequence.
AKA "Playing the Numbers". Published originally in the June 1982 issue of Gallery.
(more) 


The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009) 
 Stieg Larsson 

In this sequel to the stunningly popular The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the selftaught, nearly autistic, young genius, Lisbeth Salander, once again becomes involved in a thrilling mystery allied with... (more) 


Good Benito (1994) 
 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
nonchronologically, cover most of his life from early... (more) 


Gospel Truths (2007) 
 J.G. Sandom 

Another novel in the same genre as The Da Vinci Code – an Earthshaking secret which can destroy the Roman Catholic Church (as a character says, “Can you imagine the headline? ‘Christ found to... (more) 


Harvey Plotter and the Circle of Irrationality (2011) 
 Nathan Carter / Dan Kalman 

Harvey Plotter, who has a scar shaped like a radical sign on his forehead, must find all of the rational points on the circularum unititatus before the evil Lord Voldemorphism.
The reader follows... (more) 


The Heroic Adventures of Hercules Amsterdam (2003) 
 Melissa Glenn Haber 

The plot focuses on a three inch tall boy who runs away from humans to live with mice, only to discover that the mice are regularly massacred by rats every seven years. The mice, however, cannot anticipate... (more) 


Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979) 
 Douglas Adams 

Everyone ought to read this trilogy of four (or is it five now?) books that brilliantly combine science fiction with the drollest of British humor. Despite my high regard for it, I've not added it to... (more) 



The Humans: A Novel (2013) 
 Matt Haig 

After Cambridge mathematician Andrew Martin proves the Riemann Hypothesis, he is replaced by an alien whose job it is to prevent news of the discovery from spreading as it is their belief that humans are... (more) 


I of Newton (1970) 
 Joe Haldeman 

In this short story a mathematics professor accidentally summons a demon
by cursing while working on a problem involving integration. The devil
brags
that he is able to disprove Fermat's last theorem,... (more) 


I Sin Every Number (2007) 
 Jason Earls 

This is another work of experimental fiction from Jason Earls that combines some real computational number theory, some mathematical terminology used within nonsense for poetic effect, and a science fiction... (more) 


The Imaginary (1942) 
 Isaac Asimov 

As Asimov notes in his afterword to it (in THE EARLY ASIMOV), it is mostly about the idea of applying mathematical formulae to psychology, which he later did with his psychohistory in the "Foundation"... (more) 


The Imaginary Number (1956) 
 Yizhak Oren 

In this peculiar and humorous story, a complete stranger
shows up at physicist Benjamin's door, with an imaginary
tale of their childhood friendship, marriage to twin sisters,
and his deed to certain... (more) 


In the Shadow of Gotham (2009) 
 Stefanie Pintoff 

A murder mystery in which the victim is a female math grad student at Columbia University working on the Riemann Hypothesis.
Gifted in math, Sarah had just begun her fourth year in Columbia's graduate... (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) 


Into the Comet (1960) 
 Arthur C. Clarke 

When a computer malfunction prevents the crew of a spaceship from being able to determine a trajectory back to Earth, they are forced to resort to using an abacus to aid in the computation. [Note that... (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) 


The Jester and the Mathematician (2000) 
 Alan R. Gordon 

A short historical fiction piece involving Leonardo of Pisa ("Fibonacci"). Interesting story which features Fibonacci talking briefly about his rabbitseries/sequence, his abacusduel with Pisa's foremost... (more) 


Kandelman's Krim: A Realistic Fantasy (1957) 
 John Lighton Synge 

Thanks for Tony Vance for pointing out to me that this novel by mathematical physicist J.L. Synge should be included in my database. It is difficult to find now, but it is clear that at the time of its... (more) 


La formula di Ramanujan (2001) 
 Marco Abate (writer) / P. Ongaro (artist) 

A trip from Berkeley to India via Oxford to recover the lost Ramanujan's notebooks, pursued independently
by two (again, realistic) mathematicians, both driven by revenge, though of different kind.
Along... (more) 


The Last Theorem (2008) 
 Arthur C. Clarke / Frederik Pohl 

Ranjit Subramanian, the protagonist in this science fiction novel, is a young Sri Lankan man who (re)discovers a short and elementary proof of Fermat's Last Theorem while enduring torture during an unjust... (more) 


The Last Theorem (2008) 
 Buzz Mauro 

A depressed music professor ponders Fermat's Last Theorem and the implications of its proof by Andrew Wiles.
Like many of Mauro's other stories, this one is very well written, focusing not so much on... (more) 


Letters to a Young Mathematician (2006) 
 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) 


Lewis (Episode: Reputation) (2006) 
 Russell Lewis (Story) / Stephen Churchett (Screenplay) 

In this pilot episode of the spinoff from the popular Inspector Lewis television series, a female math student is murdered while she participates in a sleep study. Perfect numbers show up in the form... (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) 


life.exe (2006) 
 Jason Rogers 

This work of fiction is not strictly narrative. It is hard to say what is happening since the characters live in the world of "the matrix". Not like the Wachowski Bros.'s epic trilogy of films (though... (more) 


The Light of Other Days (2000) 
 Arthur C. Clarke / Stephen Baxter 

Using the WormCam (a camera sent through a wormhole in spacetime), it is
possible to witness any event that is taking or has taken place in the
universe. This makes privacy essentially an obsolete... (more) 


Little Zero the Seafarer [Captain One's frigate] (1968) 
 Vladimir Levshin 

[This Russian children's novel] is about the titular character (who
appears in the other books [by Levshin]), sailing from the A bay through
arithmetical, algebraical and geometrical seas, learning... (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 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) 


Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers (2010) 
 Pendred Noyce 

This novel for middle school aged children seems at first rather similar to the Phantom Tollbooth, which was apparently a source of inspiration for its author. The plot is familiar: a boy and girl travel... (more) 


Love Counts (2005) 
 Michael Hastings (libretto) / Michael Nyman (score) 

This opera tells the tale of the surprising friendship between a boxer whose career and life are in decline and a mathematics professor who uses arithmetic as a tool to help him out. It premiered in March 2005 at Germany's Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe.
Thanks to Peter Freyd for pointing it out to me. (more) 


Luminous (1995) 
 Greg Egan 

A truly wonderful story in which two math grad students discover that the things we consider to be "truths" in number theory are actually part of a dynamical system, subject to change over time and in... (more) 



The Man Who Dammed the Yangtze: A Mathematical Novel (2011) 
 Alex Kuo 

A story of two number theorists at the opposite ends of the world having similar experiences of strife and disillusionment at times of great turmoil. Ge is a female mathematician teaching in schools in... (more) 


The Mask of Zeus (1992) 
 Desmond Cory 

Math is discussed a lot in this "Professor Dobie Mystery" novel because both the `detective' (Dobie) and the victim (his former Ph.D. student) are mathematicians. Of course, the math doesn't have much... (more) 


Math Girls (2007) 
 Hiroshi Yuki 

Three high school friends work through some difficult mathematical ideas in this book, recently translated into English from the Japanese original.
The author is apparently well known in Japan for his... (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) 



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) 


The Mathematics of Magic Carpets (2013) 
 Sara Maitland 

A story that brings the mathematician Muḥammad ibn Mūsā alKhwārizmī, inventor of what we call "algebra", to life. He talks to his daughter about his goals of adding something new to mathematics... (more) 


The Measure of Eternity (2006) 
 Sean McMullen 

The beautiful servant of an even more beautiful courtesan leaves the palace in an ancient city and finds a beggar proudly shouting "I have nothing" in many different languages. Yet, this beggar seems... (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) 


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) 


Mersenne's Mistake (2008) 
 Jason Earls 

This is a nice piece of mathematical fiction in which the mathematician/monk Marin Mersenne encounters a demon with amazing mathematical skills. Like the other stories by Earls, this seems to be designed to showcase the interesting numbers which he has found using computer algebra tools.
(more) 


The MindBody Problem (1983) 
 Rebecca Goldstein 

A philosophy graduate student seduces and marries a famous mathematician. They do not have a great marriage, but we are presented with some thought provoking passages concerning Princeton University,... (more) 


The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) 
 Barbra Streisand (director) 

Love story with Jeff Bridges and Barbra Streisand as math and English
professors (respectively) at Columbia University. We get a detailed
description of the Twin Prime Conjecture (concerning the number... (more) 


Mister God, This is Anna (1985) 
 Fynn 

Though it is presented as if it were nonfiction, it is generally believed that this account concerning a very thoughtful six year old girl is a work of fiction. It is primarily about the girl's philosophy... (more) 


Monster (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

A story about group theory, plagiarism, the untapped potential of a collaboration between mathematics and marketing, the bleak financial future of academia, and the Monster.
This story talks about... (more) 


Moriarty by Modem (1995) 
 Jack Nimersheim 

A cyberversion of Sherlock Holmes is created to track down an accidently
released cyberversion of Moriarty. The big clue involves both the binomial
theorem and binomial variables.
Published in... (more) 


Napier's Bones (2011) 
 Derryl Murphy 

In the fantasy/SF world of this novel, numerates are special people who are aware of the fact that numbers themselves are alive and can be coaxed or controlled into doing seemingly magical things for them.... (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) 


Night of the Frightening Fractions (2015) 
 Robert Black 

In this sequel to Night of the Paranormal Patterns, teenager Lennie Miller continues to solve mathematical problems to save her town from ghosts and zombies.
I haven't read this young adult novel. I hope to get a chance to do so someday and will post more information here if I do. Or, if you have read it, please write to let me know what you thought of it, and I'll post your review here!
(more) 


Night of the Paranormal Patterns (2014) 
 Robert Black 

A young adult novel that uses the fantasy adventure genre to introduce prealgebra concepts. The protagonist, a seventh grader named Lennie, has been chosen as the "pattern finder" for werewolves, vampires... (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) 


Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less (1976) 
 Jeffrey Archer 

A mathematics professor who lectures at Oxford on group theory is among four clever people who plot to get revenge on the con artist who duped them in this, the first novel by politician and now bestselling... (more) 


Number 9: The Search for the Sigma Code (1998) 
 Cecil Balmond 

A young boy learns about mathematics while trying to solve a mathematical puzzle.
"As a teacher and Education Inspector in England I would rate
this book very highly. It is extremely well written... (more) 


The Number Devil (Der Zahlenteufel) (1997) 
 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) 


Numberland (1987) 
 George Weinberg 

The coauthor (with John Schumaker) of STATISTICS: AN
INTUITIVE APPROACH, and practicing psychotherapist, tells
a charming little fable about Numberland.
Peace, harmony,... (more) 


Oh, Brother (2007) 
 Stanley Hart 

A serious mystery/adventure novella from an author better known as a script writer for the old Carol Burnett show. A professor solicits the help of his brother, a retired police detective, in order to... (more) 


An Old Arithmetician (1885) 
 Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman 

The title character of this short story, which appeared in the September 1885 issue of Harper's Weekly, is an old, uneducated woman who loves computing (with chalk and slate):
You have always been very... (more) 


Old Faithful (1934) 
 Raymond Z. Gallun 

An extended discussion of the use of arithmetic in setting up a twoway communication code comprises the mathematical content of this forgotten classic SF short story.
Gallun (rhymes with balloon)... (more) 


The Pacifist (1966) 
 Arthur C. Clarke 

Clarke, one of the alltime biggest names in serious science
fiction, took time to write a series of humorous science
fiction tall tales. The stories are narrated by one Harry
... (more) 


Papos (2007) 
 Alex Rose 

A short piece which mixes up historical facts/pseudofacts from Greek history with rich imagination to discuss the discovery of irrational numbers (Pythagoras, Hippasus), the vanishing point in perspective... (more) 


The Parrot's Theorem (2000) 
 Denis Guedj 

This is an ambitious novel, a magical fantasy about a talking parrot bought at a flea market in France who, with the help of the personal library of a reclusive mathematical genius, teaches some children... (more) 


Partition (2003) 
 Ira Hauptman 

According to Ken Ribet's review of the San Francisco production in the Notices of the AMS, this play about the interaction between the mathematicians Hardy and Ramanujan explores the "partitions" that... (more) 


Perry Rhodan 2638: Zielpunkt MorpheusSystem (2012) 
 Marc A. Herren 

The longrunning German science fiction series Perry Rhodan recently ran a contest whose winner, a certain Martin Felten, was included in issue number 2638 as a space actuary and inventor of a fivedimensional... (more) 


Pi (1998) 
 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) 


The Pi Man (1959) 
 Alfred Bester 

I found this work in an anthology of Alfred Bester short stories "The Dark Side of the Earth". It is an ironic story of a man that calls himself the Pi Man (irrational) that tries to set a pattern... (more) 


Powerball 310 (2007) 
 K.T. Reid 

The premise of this amusing crime caper is a gang of experts who pull of a successful theft of a $310 million Powerball lottery jackpot by generating a winning ticket just after the numbers have been... (more) 


Progress (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

The mathematics of ancient Egypt can look very strange to us today. For example, although they did not have many fractions, they did know about the number 2/3. Strangely, however, it took a page of computation... (more) 


Pythagoras's Darkest Hour (2007) 
 Colin Adams 

A humorous short story from the author of Mathematically Bent which tells the true story of the discovery of the Pythagorean Theorem. Well, actually, perhaps it isn't exactly true...but it is so good,... (more) 


Pythagorean Crimes (2006) 
 Tefcros Michaelides 

This murder mystery takes place amid the exciting developments occurring in the mathematical and artistic communities in Europe between 1900 and 1931. Much of what one will learn by reading this book... (more) 


Rama II (1989) 
 Arthur C. Clarke /Gentry Lee 

This is the sequel to the novel Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.
Short Summary:
The huge cylindrical Rama spaceship has returned 70 years after it
arrived near Earth for the first time.... (more) 



Reading by Numbers (2009) 
 Aidan Doyle 

Elementary number theory and some superstitious numerology underlie this story, which appeared in the November 11, 2009 issue of the online Fantasy Magazine (though I would never describe this story as... (more) 


Reality Conditions (2005) 
 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) 


Der Rechenmeister [aka The Mathematician] (1999) 
 Dieter Jörgensen 

When I browsed through your list I found one book missing that I have in my library: "Der Rechenmeister" by Dieter Jörgensen is a novel describing the life of Niccolo Tartaglia in Venice and his battle... (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) 


Report from the Ambassador to Cida2 (2008) 
 Clifton Cunningham 

The human selected to communicate with the aquatic aliens of Cida2 is surprised to learn that their number system differs from our own. In particular, although our communication with the extraterrestrials... (more) 


A Rite of Spring (1977) 
 Fritz Leiber 

Leiber has stretched out a very flimsy story line into a 50page triviafest on the number seven. A genius of a mathematician yearns for his childhood ability to visualize and play with mathematics as... (more) 


Round the Moon (1870) 
 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) 


Rumpled Stiltskin (2004) 
 Colin Adams 

Do you remember the old Fractured Fairy Tales segment on Rocky and Bullwinkle in which classic stories were updated with a twist? This is just like those. The old Grimm's Brother tale is retold, but... (more) 


School Scandalle (2004) 
 Marla Weiss 

In 80 short chapters (each of which has the word "First" in its title), this book relates the sordid details in the professional life of a computer science and math teacher at a private school in Florida.... (more) 


The Secret Number (2000) 
 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) 


Silas P. Cornu's Dry Calculator (1898) 
 Henry Hering 

A very hilarious short story about a man who wants to build a mechanical calculator to evaluate logarithms but has success building a machine that can do only addition and multiplication. On the other... (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) 
 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) 


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 (19231958) and Frederik Pohl (1919 ) under the pen name "Jordan Park". The main character is a mentally unstable young... (more) 


The Star Dummy (1952) 
 Anthony Boucher 

I learned duodecimal (and the whole
concept of number bases) from "The Star Dummy," by Boucher, in
Conklin's Omnibus of Science Fiction. The teddybearshaped six
fingered alien was trying to communicate with the koalas in the zoo
until an openminded human showed up and the two traded written
numbers.
Originally published in Fantastic in 1952.
(more) 


The Story of Yung Chang (1900) 
 Ernest Bramah (Ernest Bramah Smith) 

Before the invention of multiplication tables, a Chinese idol merchant must
sell his wares individually, even if someone wishes to purchase a large
amount, since he has no way to determine how much money... (more) 


The Strange Case of Mr. Jean D. (1983) 
 Joao Filipe Queiro 

Published in the Mathematical Intelligencer magazine (Math.Intell. 5, 3 7890 (1983)) this is the story of a mathematician who has a nightmare: Pi is rational! (Thanks to Nuno Crato for the suggestion.) (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) 



Szatan Z Siodmej Klasy (1949) 
 Kornel Makuszynski 

Website visitor David Shay suggested that I add this Polish novel written
for young adults in which one of the characters is an amateur
mathematician attempting to prove Fermat's Last Theorem.
Note... (more) 


Tenet (2012) 
 Lorne Campbell/ Sandy Grierson 

Évariste Galois is one of two characters in this play, whose full title is apparently "Tenet: A True Story About the Revolutionary Politics of Telling the Truth about Truth as Edited by Someone Who is... (more) 


Three Days in Karlikania (1964) 
 Vladimir Levshin 

A children's fantasy novel written in Russian. I have not been able to find much about it but Rob Milson says:
Three children travel to Karlikania, an enchanted land populated by numerals. Here they... (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 counterexample to Fermat's... (more) 


The Trachtenberg Speed System (2014) 
 Buzz Mauro 

Realizing that he is likely to die there, Jakow Trachtenberg fantasizes that the method of mental computation that he has created while at a Nazi concentration camp will live on beyond him. A young guard... (more) 


Tre per zero (1997) 
 T. Sclavi (writer) / B. Brindisi (artist) 

An Italian comic book whose title translates as "Three Times Zero".
A very surreal story where a (stereotypical but nontrivial) mathematician "discovers" that
three times zero equal three, and we... (more) 


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943) 
 Betty Smith 

You may be surprised to see Betty Smith's novel about a girl growing up poor in the early 20th century on this list. In fact, it is a stretch to call this "mathematical fiction". However, the little... (more) 


Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture (1992) 
 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) 


Vault of the Beast (1940) 
 Alfred Elton van Vogt 

"A creature of vast powers is locked up inside a vault made up of
ultimate metal. The key to freeing it turns out to be 'factoring
the ultimate prime number', which procedure is given an extended
pseudomathematical... (more) 


The Visiting Professor (1994) 
 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) 


Whom the gods love: The story of Evariste Galois (1948) 
 Leopold Infeld 

A fictionalized biography of the illfated originator of group theory written by
a collaborator of Einstein (better known today for his joint work with Max Born on electrodynamics).
“No professor... (more) 


The Wild Numbers (1998) 
 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) 


Ylem (1994) 
 Eliot Fintushel 

Another Fintushel BigBangAndBack TotallyWeird adventure,
the plot concerns a business conflict in the helium market.
Somebody dickered with the primordial nucleosynthesis, and
... (more) 


Young Beaker (1973) 
 J.T. Lamberty, Jr. 

A singular individual who knows how to do mental arithmetic triumphs over peers in a future where everyone has become dependent on calculators and computers. That description would apply equally to this... (more) 


Zéro, ou les Cinq vies d'Aemer (2005) 
 Denis Guedj 

This novel traces the history of the number `zero' through the lives of five different women, living in five different eras, but all living in the same place: Mesopotamia/Iraq.
Guedj is already known... (more) 
