
1 to 999 (1981) 
 Isaac Asimov 

When cryptologists try to break a simple code, one of the key clues is
the frequency with which letters appear. In English, the letter "a"
is one of the most frequently used letters. It is therefore... (more) 


Algorithms and Nasal Structures (1998) 
 Lois H. Gresh 

This short story appears "in Aboriginal Science Fiction, Summer 1998.
CS grad student is having trouble programming sheep odors.
The story competently uses real programming terminology
(stacks, queues, etc). Includes a wee bit of trigonometry.
(more) 


Antibodies (2000) 
 Charles Stross 

P vs NP is perhaps the greatest problem of theoretical computer science,
and has attracted attention of a range of mathematicians, from logic
to topology. It's one of the seven Clay Millennium Prize... (more) 


As Above, So Below (2009) 
 Rudy Rucker 

An LSD of a story  in typical Rucker style  where a computer programmer working with the Mandelbrot set is visited upon by a living UFO in the form of the Mset; the UFO named Ma explains to him how... (more) 


The Atrocity Archives (2004) 
 Charles Stross 

"The Laundry" is a British spy organization which is responsible for suppressing certain dangerous math research. The occult implications of mathematics became clear with Alan Turing's paper "Phase Conjugate... (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) 


BLIT (1988) 
 David Langford 

Goedelian incompleteness is encoded in graphic images that
kill viewers. A new kind of infoterrorism spreads.
Originally published in INTERZONE #25 Sept/Oct 1988.
See also a fake FAQ... (more) 


Breaking the Code (1986) 
 Hugh Whitemore (playwright) 

This biography of Alan Turing is a "character study" of this
fascinating mathematician. Although we do see some mathematics (including
an especially nice description of Gödel's Theorem and its mathematical
significance)... (more) 


The Cambridge Quintet (1999) 
 John L. Casti 

A group of famous historical figures, including Wittegenstein,
Schrödinger, J.B.S. Haldane, and Alan Turing meet at the home of
C.P. Snow to discuss the question of whether machines can think.
John... (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 Catalyst (1991) 
 Desmond Cory 

Mathematics professor John Dobie gets caught up in a truly mindboggling
mystery when one of his former students, his wife's best friend, and then
his own wife wind up dead, and the police consider him to be a prime
suspect.
This is the first, my personal favorite, of the three "Professor Dobie
Mysteries" written by British author Desmond Cory. (See also "The Mask of Zeus" and " (more) 


Christmas at Cardwell Ranch (2013) 
 B.J. Daniels 

In keeping with my expectations of a Harlequin Romance novel, Christmas at Cardwell Ranch does have an improbable love affair, between a modernday cowboy and a female mathematician. However, this one... (more) 


Completeness (2011) 
 Itamar Moses 

This play, currently in production at New York's Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater, tells the story of a romance between a biology graduate student and a computer science graduate student. Having... (more) 


Conceiving Ada (1997) 
 Lynn HershmanLeeson


Bizarre, lowbudget 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) 


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) 


The Crimson Cipher (2010) 
 Susan Page Davis 

A code breaker seeks to solve the mystery of the murder of her father, a math professor who had been working on an encryption device at the beginning of World War I in this "Christian adventure/romance". (more) 


Cryptology (2003) 
 Leonard Michaels 

You know how The New Yorker likes to publish vaguely bizarre short
stories that happen to take place in New York City? You know how lots of
authors who want to show a character who is afraid of "real... (more) 


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) 


Cyberchase (2002) 
 Educational Broadcasting Corporation 

Three kids go inside "cyberspace" to help the maternal Mother Board
fight the evil Hacker. Each episode, in addition to learning about
computers, the kids have to develop their mathematical skills to... (more) 


The Da Vinci Code (2003) 
 Dan Brown 

The last act of a dying curator at the Louvre is an attempt to pass on, in code, a secret that he did not want to take to the grave. Among the things needed to "decode" this secret message is a recognition... (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) 


Decoded (2002) 
 Mai Jia 

This novel tells the story of Rong Jinzhen, a mathematical genius who becomes a cryptographer in Mao's secret intelligence agency.
The author, who is a wellknown awardwinning author in China, supposedly... (more) 


Deep Lay the Dead (1942) 
 Frederick C. Davis 

This is a decent but familiar and unremarkable murder mystery, the kind in which an odd assortment of people are trapped together in a house, not knowing which of them is the killer. In this case, they... (more) 


The Difference Engine (1991) 
 William Gibson / Bruce Sterling 

Two of the innovators of the cyberpunk novel  famous for showing how messed up the future will be because of technology  turn everything around and show us instead how great the past would have been... (more) 


Digital Fortress (1996) 
 Dan Brown 

In a final act of defiance, a young Japanese genius threatens to make
public his "unbreakable code" if the NSA does not confess that it has been
reading even encrypted emails. The heroine of the story... (more) 


Doing our Babbage (1992) 
 Ira Slobodien 

The mind of 19th century mathematician Charles Babbage is brought back to life in electronic/mechanical form, becomes involved in a kinky "love rectangle" with the three scientists responsible (two women... (more) 


Electric (2004) 
 Chad Taylor 

Three of the characters in this novel are mathematicians. Sam is a former statistician who now works at a successful Auckland data retrieval company. Because he is attracted to the hydrodynamic equations... (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 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) 


Factoring Humanity (1998) 
 Robert J. Sawyer 

There is certainly a lot of deep mathematics discussed in this `first
contact' novel, as well as a good deal of controversial physics and
psychology. Still, in the end, I did not find it especially
satisfying.... (more) 


False Witness (2007) 
 Randy D. Singer 

An espionage novel (with an embedded Christian religious message) about a mathematician's decryption algorithm with the potential to disrupt internet security.
(more) 


Fatous Staub (1991) 
 Christian Mähr 

This surrealistic science fiction novel about parallel worlds, computers, and the mathematics of Pierre Fatou (who laid the foundations for the theory of fractals) has appeared only in German. Since I... (more) 


Fifty Million Monkeys (1943) 
 Raymond F. Jones 

The story is set sometime around 12,000 AD. The use of interstellar rockets over 15 years creates a "polarization of space" which leads to a "Pioneer anomaly"like deviations in flight paths of spacecraft.... (more) 


Flame War: A Cyberthriller (1997) 
 Joshua Quittner / Michelle Slatalla 

A brilliant math professor invents a code that even the government will not be able to break. When he dies in an explosion, his daughter and the law student who (unknowingly) delivered the bomb that killed him work together to bring the killers to justice. (more) 



Four Brands of Impossible (1964) 
 Norman Kagan 

In the futuristic 1980's, a math student graduates from multiversity and gets a job with a megacorporation which is trying to do the impossible, literally. Along with his friends (a psychologist and an... (more) 


Gödel's Doom (1985) 
 George Zebrowski 

What if Gödel was wrong? That is the question asked in this well
written but very confused short story. The characters in this story
decide to test Gödel's theorem by running a computer
program... (more) 


Gödel Numbers (1969) 
 J.W. Swanson 

The story revolves around an ancient stone artifact found near Cairo which has engraved markings of slanted lines. In an incredible nonsequitor, one of the characters in the story guesses that the numbers... (more) 


Georgia on My Mind (1995) 
 Charles Sheffield 

The story has to do with Babbage's
Analytical Engine and a remote region of Antarctica (the "Georgia"
of the title). The mathematics bit, aside from Babbage, consists
of a nonlinear optimization... (more) 


Go, Little Book (1972) 
 Isaac Asimov 

Combinatorics is used to break a "matchbook code".
One of the "Black Widower" mysteries written for Ellery Queen magazine.
See also these [2, 3] other BW stories. (more) 


The God Equation (2007) 
 Michael A.R. Co 

The angel Azrael is ordered to kill a Philippine mathematician who is using the Internet to create a mathematical proof of the existence of God.
In this story, Azrael is presented as a hitman who kills... (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) 


The GoldBug (1843) 
 Edgar Allan Poe 

Not only does this very famous Poe story contain a (very little) bit of mathematics in the form of a probabilistic approach to cryptography and a geometric description of the treasure hunt on the ground... (more) 


Hickory Dickory Shock! The Tale of Techies (2010) 
 Sundip Gorai 

This novel, which the author tells me is a bestseller in India, is a mystery thriller whose protagonist is a young man named "210". In the first chapter, which is available for free at the book's official... (more) 


The Imitation Game (2014) 
 Morten Tyldum (director) / Graham Moore (screenplay) 

I do not yet know much about this film other than that Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, Keira Knightley is Joan Clark and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey) is a spy. The title, presumably, is a reference to the Turing Test.
(more) 


In The Country of the Blind (1990) 
 Michael Flynn 

Sarah Beaumont escaped from the modern American ghetto to become a successful journalist, programmer and real estate investor. However, while investigating an idea for developing her latest real estate... (more) 


The Ingenious Mr. Spinola (1924) 
 Ernest Bramah 

Max Carrados is a blind amateur detective genius, quite popular in the early 20th century, but mostly forgotten since then. (Such is also the fate of E.B.'s Kai Lung fantasy stories.)
... (more) 


Inherit the Stars (1977) 
 James P. Hogan 

50,000 old human remains are found on the moon, along with lots of
documentation. The entry point to deciphering the totally unknown
language is mathematical tables and formulae."
(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 Labyrinth Key (2004) 
 Howard V. Hendrix 

In the near future, the US and China engage in a race involving
the ultimate quantum computer and quantum cryptography. Along
the way, numerous mathematical concepts are cited and sometimes
discussed,... (more) 


The Lady's Code (2006) 
 Samantha Saxon 

The third in a series of romance novels about intelligent, confident women, The Lady's Code features Lady Juliet Pervell, who has ruined her reputation in social circles but earned an honorary degree in... (more) 


The Last Enemy (2008) 
 Peter Berry (Screenplay) / Iain B. MacDonald (Director) 

In this BBC TV series, mathematician Stephen Ezard returns home from China for his brother's funeral but finds himself caught up in two simultaneous stories of high level espionage. In one subplot, he... (more) 


The Living Equation (1934) 
 Nathan Schachner 

A mathematician invents a machine that provides abstract mathematical objects ("vectors" and "tensors") a certain reality. His goal is to allow them not to solve equations but to create new ones. However,... (more) 


Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land (2005) 
 John Crowley 

This book is made up of notes and email messages from a feminist historian interspersed with chapters from a previously unknown novel by Lord Byron which she has discovered while researching his daughter,... (more) 


The Lost Books of the Odyssey (2008) 
 Zachary Mason 

The introduction to this novel is a work of pseudoscholarship, explaining how the chapters to follow were decoded by an NSA cryptographer with the help of the author. The intro contains references to... (more) 


Lovesong of the Electric Bear (2005) 
 Snoo Wilson (playwright) 

This play about Alan Turing, told from the point of view of Porgy, his teddy bear, was produced as part of the Summer 2005 season at the Potomac Theater Project in Maryland. Turing certainly had both... (more) 


A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines (2006) 
 Janna Levin


This novel about Alan Turing and Kurt Gödel contains much that has already been said many times before, and occasionally "tries too hard" artistically. Still I very much enjoyed reading it, and even... (more) 


The Math Code (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

A friend of mine once told me that he believes that mathematicians invented intentionally confusing notations to keep others from understanding what they were saying. I'm sure this is not true. We mathematicians... (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) 


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) 


Mr. Churchill's Secretary (2012) 
 Susan Elia MacNeal 

A woman who has just earned a degree in mathematics from Wellesley turns down a graduate school offer from MIT to go work under Winston Churchill. However, due to the usual prejudices (see quote below)... (more) 


Ms Fnd in a Lbry (1961) 
 Hal Draper 

Hal Draper took a break from his life's work of promoting Marxism,
and wrote one science fiction story. The information explosion, and
associated storage and retrieval problems, is humorously examined
in... (more) 


The Mystery of Khufu's Tomb (1935) 
 Mundy Talbot 

A rapidread, reasonably entertaining novel about the real location of the Pharaoh Khufu’s (Cheops) tomb and the fabulous treasury buried therein. An old, Chinese mathematician spends decades decoding... (more) 


The Mystic Cipher (2009) 
 Dennis Mangrum 

When an exArmy Ranger finds a mysterious coded document on his farm purporting to be the key to the location of a hidden treasure, he enlists the aid of his daughter, a math student. There is stereotypical... (more) 


The Nine Billion Names of God (1953) 
 Arthur C. Clarke 

As much about computers as it is about mathematics, we join two
programmers hired by a Buddhist sect seeking to find all true names of
God by exhausting a combinatorial library of possibilities.
Appears... (more) 


No Regrets (2007) 
 Shannon Butcher 

This is an espionage thriller in which a cryptographer reluctantly helps the military break a mathematical code. It gets high ratings from those who enjoy this sort of cloakanddagger stuff. Moreover,... (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) 


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) 


Ouroboros (1997) 
 Geoffrey A. Landis 

The question of whether what we call "reality" could be nothing other than a simulation run on a computer gets a mathematically sophisticated treatment in this story. In addition to a vague reference... (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) 


Palimpsest (2007) 
 Howard V. Hendrix 

A very short story with strong shades of Clarke's "Nine billion Names of God" and "Genesis", coupled with the general idea that our reality is a Turing machine in danger of being subverted by the Great... (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) 



PopCo (2004) 
 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) 


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 Eagle & the Music of the Spheres (2003) 
 Anne Carse Nolting 

A very wellwritten, 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) 


Quarantine (1977) 
 Arthur C. Clarke 

For safety's sake, all organic life on the planet Earth has been
wiped out by automatic defenses. The investigator looking into
this regrettable turn of affairs in an otherwise promising species
discovers... (more) 


Quicksilver: The Baroque Cycle Volume 1 (2003) 
 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) 


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) 


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 Rose Acacia (1995) 
 Ralph P. Boas, Jr. 

"A computer makes a deal with the devil, with the
usual escape clause: if it can ask a question the devil cannot answer, the
computer gets the information for free. As the devil puts it, no logical
paradoxes,... (more) 


The Rule of Four (2004) 
 Ian Caldwell / Dustin Thomason 

There is an enigmatic book from the late 15th century called Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, written by an Italian monk, Francesco Colonna (available at gutenberg.org for download). The book chronicles the... (more) 


Sebastian (1968) 
 David Greene (director) 

A film about a British mathematician trying to break the German codes during World War II. (So, add this to the growing list of works of mathematical fiction inspired by Alan Turing!) I must admit that I have not yet seen the film, but you've got to love its tagline:
We can't tell you what he does (it's an international secret) but he does it with 100 girls... and does it the best!
(more) 


Sekret Enigmy (1979) 
 Roman Wionczek


Although Alan Turing tends to get much of the credit for breaking the Nazi "Enigma" codes during World War II, three Polish mathematicians did preliminary work that was equally brilliant and equally important. This film tells their story, featuring some real acts of heroism.
(more) 


Shooting the Sun (2004) 
 Max Byrd 

Historical mathematicians Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage play supporting roles in this novel about an expedition into uncharted Indian territory to capture the first photograph of a solar eclipse at... (more) 


Signal to Noise (1999) 
 Eric S. Nylund 

The protagonist in this science fiction novel, Jack Potter, is a tenure track math professor in a future where San Francisco has sunk under the ocean, all nonacademic employment in the United States... (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) 



Sneakers (1992) 
 Phil Alden Robinson (director) 

Complex espionage story, more about computers than mathematics.
However, mathematics is clearly an underlying theme and in one scene
the mysterious mathematician Gunter Janek lectures on mathematical
aspects... (more) 


Souls in the Great Machine (1999) 
 Sean McMullen 

Souls in the Great Machine is apparently a
postecologicalapocalypse SF novel in which a powerful
multiprocessing computer is built out of human beings manipulating
abaci. Has anyone out there read... (more) 


Spacetime Donuts (1981) 
 Rudy Rucker 

The story is set in a chaotic setting (it's a Rucker novel!) of an allprovidingbutoppressive society. The society is controlled in large parts by a supercomputer, PhizWhiz, and its political masters.... (more) 


Summer Wars (2009) 
 Mamoru Hosoda (Director) 

Kenji is a parttime computer programmer from a poor family who has never had a girlfriend. Aside from the fact that he was almost selected to represent Japan in the Mathematics Olympiad he considers... (more) 


The Tale of the Big Computer (aka The End of Man?) (1966) 
 Hannes Alfven (writing as Olof Johannesson) 

"Alfven, the Swedish physicist and astrophysicist who was
awarded the Nobel prize for his development of plasma physics
and magnetohydrodynamics (but is perhaps better remembered
... (more) 


Transition Dreams (1993) 
 Greg Egan 

Transition dreams, an old man learns in this story, are dreams that your new, robotic brain has as it is being "filled up" with the patterns copied from your old, organic brain. There is a good deal of... (more) 


Travelling Salesman (2012) 
 Andy Lanzone (writer) / Timothy Lanzone (director and writer) 

This film is a lowbudget intellectual thriller about a Fields Medalist who, while working for the NSA, helps to prove that P=NP and takes part in the deliberations to decide what to do with it. "Travelling... (more) 


Turing (A Novel About Computation) (2003) 
 Christos Papadimitriou 

The four vertices of an unlikely love "rectangle" are (a) a dying, maverick cryptographer, (b) a pregnant Internet wiz, (c) a romantic middleaged Greek archaeologist and (d) Turing, an artificially intelligent... (more) 


Turing's Apples (2008) 
 Stephen Baxter 

Story about a faraway civilization transmitting a complex message in all directions, containing a software program (“Turing machine”) which ends up creating von Neumann machines with one specific... (more) 


Turing's Delirium (2007) 
 Edmundo Paz Soldan 

This is a hackercounterhacker story set in Bolivia, where the newly resurrected president hires an NSA official to set up the country's counterespionage / cybersecurity unit ("Black Chamber"). The... (more) 


Villages (2004) 
 John Updike 

The protagonist of this novel is Owen Mackenzie, a character who earned a degree in mathematics in the 1950's and went on to work with computers. His first lover, as well, was a mathematician. They... (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) 


Wang's Carpets (1995) 
 Greg Egan 

This short story about a life form based on Wang Tiles first appeared in 1995 in Greg Bear's New Legends collection but was later expanded into an entire novel. For more information, see my entry on the... (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 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) 
