MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About


Topic=Geometry/Topology/Trigonometry

187 matches found out of 1151 entries

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

A. Botts and the Moebius Strip (1945)
William Hazlett Upson
William Hazlett Upson wrote a series of pieces for the Saturday Evening Post about a salesman for The Earthworm Tractor Company, written as a dialog of letters and memos between Alexander Botts and his... (more)
The Adventures of Topology Man (2005)
Highly Rated!
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)
Aleph Sub One (1948)
Margaret St. Clair
This is a little known story by a well known author from the Golden Age of Science Fiction. The math content is high, and it's a good story, definitely belongs on your Mathematical Fiction page. From... (more)
Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer (2011)
Ken Liu
One advantage of the human race having been uploaded into a virtual existence, in this post-singularity story, is that it offers a wide variety of decorating choices not normally available to those of... (more)
And He Built a Crooked House (1940)
Highly Rated!
Robert A. Heinlein
A clever architect designs a house in the shape of the shadow of a tesseract, but it collapses (through the 4th dimension) when an earthquake shakes it into a more stable form (which takes up very... (more)
The Appendix and the Spectacles (1928)
Miles J. Breuer (M.D.)
There sometimes seems to be an unlimited supply of stories based on the idea that we may be unaware of extra dimensions around us (just like the inhabitants of Flatland). But, each one has its own special features. Here we see it from a medical perspective: what are the implications for surgery and malpractice? Appears in Mathematical Magpie. (more)
Approaching Perimelasma (1998)
Geoffrey A. Landis
As part of a planned experiment, a man falls into a black hole and escapes through a wormhole. (Don't worry, it is only a backup copy of his mind on an artificial body specifically designed for this task.)... (more)
The Balloon Hoax (1844)
Edgar Allan Poe
This is Poe's account of an alleged balloon trip to the moon, in the spirit of the then infamous moon hoax. The balloon rider describes the Earth as appearing concave when 5 miles up. Later,... (more)
Bill, the Galactic Hero (1965)
Harry Harrison
The famed parody of Asimov and Heinlein. Amongst other issues, the book asks what happens to all the garbage from a one city planet (a la Trantor from FOUNDATION)? It seems to be a losing ... (more)
The Birds (BC414)
Aristophanes
In one scene of this classic Greek play, the geometer Meton appears and...well, it's pretty short. So why should I summarize it when I can simply reproduce it here! (Enter METON, With surveying... (more)
The Blind Geometer (1987)
Kim Stanley Robinson
This short novel lives up to its name: it really is about a blind geometer! Carlos Oleg Nevsky was born blind and ``since 2043'' has been a professor of mathematics at GWU. We get some interesting discussion... (more)
Blinding Shadows (1934)
Donald Wandrei
Story of a mathematics professor who theorizes that 4-dimensional objects should be casting 3-dimensional shadows and such shadows should be viewable by specially made mirrors. Dutifully, element number... (more)
Border Guards (1999)
Greg Egan
In a virtual universe shaped like a 3-torus, 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)
The Boy Who Reversed Himself (1986)
William Sleator
[William Sleator's The Boy Who Reversed Himself is] a book catering to a preteen or early teen audience about three high school students' adventures in 4-dimensional (and higher) space. It includes... (more)
Brave New World (1932)
Aldous Huxley
"Best known for its horrifying utopian vision of a future where children are manufactured for their role in society, the masses are kept happy with their feelies and drugs, ... (more)
The Brothers Karamazov (1880)
Fyodor Dostoevsky
In this classic final masterwork by Dostoevsky, the existence of non-Euclidean geometry is mentioned at one point. Although the theme is not explicitly carried throughout the rest of the novel, it plays... (more)
The Captured Cross-Section (1929)
Miles J. Breuer (M.D.)
Another "extra dimensions" story, with the twist of our hero having to save his fiance (also a mathematician) from terrifying dangers. There is some nonsense at the beginning about rotations and a count of variables/equations that probably had its basis in a reasonable linear algebra class but just comes out sounding kind of silly here. (more)
Cascade Point (1983)
Timothy Zahn
"Cascade Point" by Timothy Zahn (1983, won the 1984 Hugo award) contains fictionalized mathematical analysis of higher-order dimensions of space/time. The novel concerns future space travel whereby... (more)
The Case of the Murdered Mathematician (2001)
Julia Barnes / Kathy Ivey
This story is actually a fictionalized account of the "Murder Mystery" game played by the MAA Student Mathematics Club at Western Carolina University. Clues provide insight into possible motivations... (more)
A Catastrophe Machine (2004)
Carter Scholz
A well-written, vaguely surrealistic story loosely based on the real mathematical field of catastrophe theory and set within the context of the Vietnam War. The title is taken from an invention of mathematician... (more)
A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel (2007)
Highly Rated!
Gaurav Suri / Hartosh Singh Bal
The intertwined stories of Ravi, a Stanford student taking a course on "Infinity" in the 1980's, and his grandfather who was jailed for blasphemy in New Jersey in 1919 constitute a philosophical investigation... (more)
Children of Dune (1976)
Frank Herbert
This third novel in the "Dune" series (which was also made into a TV miniseries) contains a wonderful (but rather brief and not very significant) bit of fictional mathematics. The following quotation... (more)
The Clockwork Rocket (2011)
Highly Rated!
Greg Egan
"The Clockwork Rocket" by Greg Egan is the first in his Orthogonal trilogy. As usual the author is very committed with the writing and goes the extra mile (or miles in this case) in order to achieve... (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)
The Dangerous Dimension (1938)
L. Ron Hubbard
"The Dangerous Dimension" is L. Ron Hubbard's first science fiction story, written at editor F Orlin Tremaine's request for something light, easy-reading, and humorous. In the story, Professor Henry... (more)
Dante Dreams (1998)
Stephen Baxter
There is an interpretation of Dante's "Divine Comedy" as a mystical description of the universe as a hypersphere (see "Dante and the 3-sphere" American Journal of Physics -- December 1979 -- Volume... (more)
Death and the Compass (La Muerte y La Brujula) (1968)
Highly Rated!
Jorge Luis Borges
This is considered one of Borges' greatest short stories, and was even made into a film by "RepoMan" director Alex Cox. The following review from Alejandro Satz explains the mathematical content, but... (more)
Deception (2003)
Eric Altman
The differential geometer who has discovered a formula for the lifetime of tiny black holes is the only decent character in this book. That is not to say that the others are poorly written, just that... (more)
Delicious Rivers (2006)
Ellen Maddow
This collage of absurd and entertaining scenes at a NYC post office (and the music and choreography to which they are performed) were all inspired by the mathematics of Penrose Tilings. In particular,... (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)
Diaspora (1998)
Highly Rated!
Greg Egan
"This is the only science-fiction book I have ever read to define the term fiber bundle." said contributor David Moews of this book. The same for me, though I was disappointed to see that it was... (more)
The Discovery of Heaven (1992)
Harry Mulisch
This novel is considered to be the magnum opus of one of the greats of Dutch postwar literature. (Original Dutch title _De Ontdekking van de Hemel_, English translation 1996, film version in 2001) _The... (more)
Distances (2008)
Vandana Singh
Most members of Anasunya's species have "a gift". Since she has a gift of mathematics, she leaves her aquatic home and begins working at the Temple of Mathematical Arts. She has a gift that allows... (more)
The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (1963)
Norton Juster
This picture book describes the love story of two geometrical figures. It was also made into a cartoon by Chuck Jones (available on YouTube). I have loved this book ever since my wonderful mathematical... (more)
Eifelheim (2006)
Michael Flynn
In this award winning science fiction novel, Tom and Sharon have a lot in common. They share an apartment, both use sophisticated mathematics in their research, and both become completely obsessed with... (more)
The Eighth Room (1989)
Stephen Baxter
The story forms part of the Xeelee-sequence of stories and novels. In far distant future, the Xeelee decide to lock away the human race in a world hidden in hyperspace (as the pale, atavistic remnants... (more)
The Einstein See-Saw (1932)
Miles J. Breuer
This is another of the hyperspace stories by Miles Breuer. This time, a mathematical physicist discovers that mattter can be tossed around in and out of space(-time) [see his papers, "A Preliminary Report... (more)
The Embalmer's Book of Recipes (2009)
Ann Lingard
An unusual and intimate novel that follows three women: a widowed sheep-farmer, a mathematician who studies quasicrystals, and a taxidermist (whose included blog entries explain the title of the book).... (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)
An Episode of Flatland (1907)
Charles H. Hinton
Hinton, whose biography is a little too weird for me to believe and whose essays on the fourth dimension (see for example A New Era of Thought) leave me wondering how much he really believed that the fourth... (more)
The Escher Twist (2002)
Jane Langton
Part of the author's Homer/Mary Kelly series of mysteries based in Concord MA. The plot centers on a crystallographer falling in love with a stranger at an exhibit of Escher work, and... (more)
Euclid Alone (1975)
William F. Orr
An administrator in the math department of a major research institute has to decide how to handle a paper which proves the inconsistency of Euclidean geometry. Math is definitely central to this... (more)
Euclid and His Modern Rivals (1879)
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll)
I have long known that mathematician Charles Dodgson, who wrote the famous Alice stories under the pseudonym "Lewis Carroll", also wrote a book defending Euclid's ancient text as the best for teaching... (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)
Factoring Humanity (1998)
Highly Rated!
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)
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)
The Fifth-Dimension Catapult (1931)
Murray Leinster
This short novel, originally published in the January 1931 ASTOUNDING, and republished by Damon Knight in SCIENCE FICTION OF THE 30'S (1975), involves a mathematical physicist whose theories get applied... (more)
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884)
Highly Rated!
Edwin Abbott Abbott
This is the classic example of mathematical fiction in which the author helps us to think about the meaning of "dimension" through fictional example: a visit to a world with only two spatial dimensions.... (more)
Flatterland: like Flatland, only more so (2001)
Highly Rated!
Ian Stewart
In this "sequel" to Flatland, popular mathematics writer Ian Stewart lets us accompany the granddaugther of the original "A. Square" who starred in original classic, as she learns about fractal dimensions,... (more)
The Four-Color Problem (1971)
Barrington J. Bayley
A story written in a psychedelic, stream-of-consciousness style a la William S. Burroughs concerning the discovery of previously unknown countries on the Earth whose existence provides a counter-example... (more)
The Fourth-Dimensional Demonstrator (1935)
Murray Leinster
Uses the fourth dimension as geewhiz terminology to explain a matter duplicator/unduplicator. Includes a tesseract. But if you ignore the story's explanation involving time as ... (more)
A Frayed Knot (2009)
Felix Culp
Culp takes a classic mystery by Poe and retells it with knotted ropes taking the place of people. For example: Tyler Trefoil was a Bowline knot....Salty-fibered seafaring knots such as Trefoil - as... (more)
G103 (2006)
Highly Rated!
Oliver Tearne (director)
This short film "shows a surreal day in the life of a mathematics undergraduate" taking the math course G103 at the University of Warwick. In fact, the Website makes it sound as if it is an informational... (more)
The Gangs of New Math (2005)
Robert W. Vallin
This humorous short story about a brawl in a pub of mathematicians appeared in the November 2005 issue of Math Horizons magazine. There is quite a bit of "mathematical name-dropping" in the form of quick... (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)
The Gate of the Flying Knives (1979)
Poul Anderson
For his contribution to the first "Thieves' World" collection, Poul Anderson contributed a fantasy story about an illustrated scroll which forms a gateway between dimensions. As the story progresses,... (more)
The Geometrics of Johnny Day (1941)
Nelson Bond
Old MacDonald had a firm, and in that firm he had a young mathematician who wanted to win his daughter's hand in marriage. MacDonald was skeptical: ""Ye want a job, eh? And just what is it that ye... (more)
Geometry in the South Pacific (1927)
Sylvia Warner
A chapter from Warner's novel (more)
The Geometry of Love (1966)
John Cheever
An engineer is inspired by a passing truck from "Euclid's Dry Cleaning" to apply geometric principles to his own marital problems. He finds that interpreting his family as a triangle has the advantage... (more)
The Geometry of Narrative (1983)
Hilbert Schenck
This story begins with a character who is a graduate student of English proposing to his professor a new geometric approach to literary analysis. As he points out, this has been used to some limited degree... (more)
The Girl with the Celestial Limb (1990)
Pauline Melville
Although recognized as mathematically talented in school, Jane Cole hid from all things intellectual after having a frightening epiphany regarding infinity. Math, however, seemingly exacts its revenge... (more)
Global Dawn (2007)
Deborah Gelbard
Geometry, especially the notion of the "tilted square", plays a mathematical as well as a spiritual role in the ambitious project undertaken in this novel. According to the author, "The protagonist aims... (more)
Globión's Whimsical Shape (La Caprichosa Forma de Globión) (1999)
Alejandro Illanes Mejía
It is a tale about the quest of the inhabitants of Globión to find the true shape of their home planet. It also explains in a crystal-clear way some very abstract notions of topology of surfaces, and... (more)
The Gold-Bug (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)
Gospel Truths (2007)
J.G. Sandom
Another novel in the same genre as The Da Vinci Code – an Earth-shaking secret which can destroy the Roman Catholic Church (as a character says, “Can you imagine the headline? ‘Christ found to... (more)
The Grass and Tree (2003)
Eliot Fintushel
The Banach-Tarski paradox is invoked repeatedly as the underlying explanation for shapeshifting. And higher-dimensional generalizations prove crucial to the plot. The author goes so far as to cite... (more)
Gulliver's Posthumous Travels to Riemann's Land and Lobachevskia (1947)
William Pepperell Montague
In this sequel to Swift's classic Gulliver's Travels (which is also mathematical), Barnard College philosopher Montague tells us of his dreams in which Gulliver shares with him the non-Euclidean geometry... (more)
Gut Symmetries (1997)
Jeanette Winterson
Two love affairs: one between a pair of physicists and the other between the female physicist and her lovers wife. (The author presents this analogy: A love triangle reduced to a line.) It is often... (more)
Hapgood (1988)
Tom Stoppard
A brief discussion of Euler's solution to the Königsburg Bridge Problem appears in Stoppard's play about espionage and quantum physics. When a British physicist double-agent is accused of giving... (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)
Hidden in Glass (1931)
Paul Ernst
A murder mystery involving a mathematical physicist. One Professor Brainard, who is claimed to have mastered "the secret of the fourth dimension" (haven't they all in the pulps?), has a serious professional... (more)
The Holmes-Ginsbook Device (1969)
Isaac Asimov
A scientist recounts how, stung by his former professor hogging all the credit for figuring out a way to safely light cigarettes and girlwatch at the same time, he and ... (more)
The Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin (1927)
Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoi
Written by a distant relative of the more famous author Count Tolstoy, by one of the first Russian science fiction writers, this tells the story of a mad scientist who tries to take over the world,... (more)
The Ifth of Oofth (1957)
Walter Trevis
[This] is a short, zany, tall-tale reminiscent of Heinlein's "And He Built A Crooked House". Someone ends up making a 3-dimensional, unfolded projection of a 5-dimensional hypercube, a Penteract. The... (more)
In Fading Suns and Dying Moons (2003)
John Varley
There is an explicit reference not only to mathematics, but to mathematical fiction in this scary short story. When strange creatures with an unusual interest in butterflies begin appearing on the Earth, it takes a mathematician and familiarity with Abbott's Flatland to understanding what is going on. (more)
In Good King Charles's Golden Days (1939)
George Bernard Shaw
Considered by many to be Shaw's worst play, this late example of his witty writing may be of special interest to visitors to this site. It takes place at the home of Sir Isaac Newton where he is joined... (more)
Incandescence (2008)
Greg Egan
This "hard SF" novel focuses on the scientific progress of aliens living on a planet near the galactic center. Presumably because the curvature of space was obvious to them from the start (while it took... (more)
The Infinite Plane (1981)
Paul J. Nahin
As a student, Richard Mackley discussed some philosophical aspects of the mathematical abstraction of an infinite plane with his math professor. For instance, they noted that the plane would look the... (more)
Inside Out (1987)
Rudy Rucker
The story itself is quite disturbing IMO but has the usual zaniness of his other writings. Features quarks as "hypertoroidal vortex rings/loops of superstring", a "cumberquark", "hypertorii with fuzzy... (more)
Into Thin Air (2000)
Colin Adams
This was the first of Colin Adams' ``Mathematically Bent'' columns for the Mathematical Intelligencer, published back in Vol.22, No. 1, 2000. It combines many of the analogies between mountain climbing... (more)
The Inverted World (1974)
Christopher Priest
About a mobile city that must tap its power from a mysterious `optimum point', which is less effective for their engines as it gets more distant. Weird distortion of the surrounding world is based... (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)
The Island of Five Colors (1952)
Highly Rated!
Martin Gardner
In this sequel to The No-sided Professor, our heroes tackle the Four Color Theorem, which was unproved at the time. (See here for a brief summary of a recent proof.) Included are some historically... (more)
It was the Monster from the Fourth Dimension (1951)
Al Feldstein
I found a story from a Weird Science issue of 1951 (i believe it's # 7) titled It Was the Monster From the Fourth Dimension. It's written and drawn by Al Feldstein. It is about a farmer whose farm... (more)
Journey into Geometries (1997)
Marta Sved
It is styled after a frequently-used device: "Alice in X", where X can be any kind of space which you wish to explain to the gentle reader. In this instance, Alice, along with Lewis Carroll and a Doctor... (more)
Journey to the Center of Mathematics (2006)
Colin Adams
A parody of the classic Jules Verne tale, which reads like what Woody Allen would have written if he had taken math instead of philosophy at NYU: The next day, we booked travel on a steamer across the... (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)
The Kissing Number (1992)
Ian Stewart
Published as part of his "Mathematical Recreations" column in Scientific American (February 1992), this story concerns human colonists on Mars who are trying to figure out how many non-overlapping "circular"... (more)
Lambada (1990)
Joel Silbert (Director and Writer) / Sheldon Renan (Screenplay)
A blend of "Stand and Deliver" with "Dirty Dancing" with a high school math teacher who spends his evenings doing lambada dance moves in night clubs. He appears to be a very dedicated teacher, and in... (more)
The Land of No Shadow (1931)
Carl H Claudy
Claudy's regular characters, the brilliant Alan Kane and the brawny Ted Dolliver, journey into the fourth dimension in this pulpy SciFi story. The tennis balls that journey into this trans-dimensional... (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 Last Magician (1952)
Bruce Elliott
Science-fiction story about a magician performing for aliens using a Klein bottle as a prop. (more)
Left or Right (1951)
Martin Gardner
Originally published in Esquire magazine in 1951, this story about a space ship "flipping" through the fourth dimension has rarely been seen because Gardner later worried that it was physically inaccurate.... (more)
The Library of Babel (1941)
Highly Rated!
Jorge Luis Borges
Years ago, I read The Library of Babel in a volume of collected short stories by [Argentinian] Jorge Luis Borges, published under the title, Labyrinths and translated from the [Spanish]. Like many... (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)
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)
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)
Lost in the Funhouse (1968)
John Barth
According to the "foreward to the Anchor Books Edition", this collection of short stories is "strung together on a few echoed and developed themes and [circles] back upon itself; not to close a simple... (more)
The Magic Staircase (1946)
Nelson Slade Bond
A Mathematics professor develops a theory of "intra-dimensional" spaces, hypothesizing that the vast, empty spaces in atoms form a parallel dimension in which alternative histories of "what might have... (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 Mathenauts (1964)
Highly Rated!
Norman Kagan
A hilarious story that plays with the mind-blowing idea that it may not be that mathematics describes reality, but instead that reality is mathematics. In the future presented by this story, only those... (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)
Message Found in a Copy of Flatland (1983)
Rudy Rucker
This is the story that answers the age old question: "What if Flatland was in the basement of a Pakistani restaurant in London?". The answer is scarier than you might think, especially when you realize... (more)
Milo and Sylvie (2000)
Eliot Fintushel
"Shapeshifting is treated as a form of Banach-Tarski equidecomposition. And part of a Zorn's Lemma proof is given explicitly." This story appeared in the March 2000... (more)
Moebius (1996)
Gustavo Daniel Mosquera R.
In this Argentinian film, a mathematician discovers a bizarre topological explanation for the disappearance of a train in the labrynthian Buenos Aires subway system. Although based on the short story... (more)
Moebius Trip (2006)
Janny Wurts
Featuring an aging mirror-maker who is asked to create a mirror which acts like a moebius strip and shows a reflection of the past and the future. Frankly, I did not think it was done well at all and... (more)
Murder, She Conjectured (2005)
Alex Kasman
A police psychologist attending a conference in Cambridge, England is pulled into an unsolved murder mystery by her mathematician boyfriend. An important theme of the story is the oppresive sexism that... (more)
The Murdered Mathematician (1949)
Harry Stephen Keeler
This book is probably the least believable thing I've ever read, but lots of fun! Quiribus Brown is a 7 1/2 foot tall man who was raised by his father on a farm in Indiana. His father was a math professor... (more)
Musgrave Ritual (1893)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
A tiny bit of mathematics is used by Sherlock Holmes to solve this mystery. In it, he ties together the disappearance of a housemaid, the discovery of the dead body of the chief butler and a strange poem... (more)
Music of the Spheres (2011)
Ken Liu
The short stories in the anthology Mirror Shards all focus on augmented reality (AR), the idea that our perception of the world around us will be fundamentally changed by the use of advanced technology.... (more)
Narrow Valley (1966)
R.A. Lafferty
This is a madcap story about a tract of land which is topologically folded through a shamanic incantation. Contains descriptions of some physical effects but explicitly states that the topological defect... (more)
Naturally (Double Whammy) (1954)
Fredric Brown
Fredric Brown, a prolific and acclaimed writer of mystery and science fiction stories and novels, was an extraordinary master of the short-short. "Naturally" is a one-pager about Henry... (more)
The Next Dimension (1947)
Vladimir Karapetoff
"A Mathematical Play in Five Dialogs". Once again, we are treated to the Flatland notion of two-dimensional creatures pondering a "hypothetical" three dimensional existence. Many of the usual concerns... (more)
No-Sided Professor (1946)
Highly Rated!
Martin Gardner
We all know that among the surprising things you learn when you first make a Mobius strip is the fact that out of a two sided piece of paper you can make an object with only one side. Why should this... (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)
Nuremberg Joys (2000)
Charles Sheffield
A mathematician is on trial for war crimes, regarding his role in developing an absolutely horrendous killing weapon based on sophisticated new physics. Guilt or ... (more)
The Object (2005)
Alex Kasman
This is a mathematical horror story, written by someone who doesn't like horror stories. Since I'm the author, I can honestly (and humbly) admit that the result is kind of weird. The plot concerns... (more)
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)
The One Best Bet (1911)
Samuel Hopkins Adams
The story is about an amateur detective who uses some elementary geometric triangulation to foil an assassination. The last paragraph is a great touch, “Why, Governor, you’re giving me too much credit.... (more)
Operation Chaos / Operation Changeling (1969)
Poul Anderson
Part of a series of stories about detectives who use magic and religion published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine in the 1960s, Operation Changeling (later published in novelized form in Operation... (more)
The Ore Miner's Wife (2003)
Karl Iagnemma
A miner who spends his spare time secretly working on geometry problems arouses the suspicions of his God fearing wife when she comes upon his cryptic writings and follows him to a meeting with a visiting... (more)
Our Feynman Who Art in Heaven... (2007)
Paul Di Filippo
A religious cult based on the Standard Model (of high energy physics) has its headquarters in a tesseract. This story, which is certainly more physical than mathematical, appears in the "Plumage from Pegasus" column in the February 2007 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction and is available for free at their website. (more)
The Pacific Mystery (2006)
Stephen Baxter
This starts as an alternate history short story, in which Lord Halifax became Prime Minister of England in 1940 and reaches an accommodation with Germany; Germany holds sway over Europe and Russia, Japan... (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)
Papos (2007)
Alex Rose
A short piece which mixes up historical facts/pseudo-facts from Greek history with rich imagination to discuss the discovery of irrational numbers (Pythagoras, Hippasus), the vanishing point in perspective... (more)
Les Particules élémentaires [Elementary Particles] (1998)
Michel Houellebecq
The following description is based on material sent to me by Annie-Michel Pajus (IREM PARIS 7) in French. Any error below is likely to be a mistake that I made in attempting to translate it. This novel... (more)
Paul Bunyan versus the Conveyor Belt (1949)
William Hazlett Upson
A clever "twist" on the usual Mobius band story. Answers the age old question: How can you win lots of money betting against poor saps who don't understand topology? I use this story with children... (more)
Perelman's Song (2008)
Highly Rated!
Tina Chang
This story by Tina Chang appears in the February 2008 issue of Math Horizons magazine (see also JSTOR). It uses a conversation between gods manipulating universes in their hands to poetically inform... (more)
A Piece of Justice (1995)
Jill Paton Walsh
The mathematics of tilings and quilting play background roles in this mystery in which a graduate student attempts to write a biography of the (fictitious) mathematician Gideon Summerfield. Summerfield... (more)
Pieces of Pi (2006)
David Bartell
A socially inept cubicle worker becomes obsessed with making sense of the controversial Biblical passage (I Kings 7:23-26) which many interpret as claiming that the value of π is exactly three (therefore... (more)
Plane People (1933)
Wallace West
A space-operatic story which implements Edwin Abbott's world of Flatland. A perfectly flat comet strikes earth at a glancing angle and sheers off a very small part, including a few people, who discover... (more)
The Planiverse: computer contact with a two-dimensional world (1984)
A.K. Dewdney
In this modern take on the "Flatland" theme, some academics investigate the virtual two-dimensional world they have created inside a computer. The sophisticated simulation includes sentient beings, one... (more)
Pop Quiz (2005)
Alex Kasman
An algebraic geometer is called in when messages from an alien spacecraft appear to be asking questions about projective varieties. Though it may at first appear to be another "mathematics as a common... (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)
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)
Highly Rated!
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)
Q.E.D. (1984)
Bruce Stanley Burdick
The "Q.E.D." from the title of this short story published in Analog (volume 104 #12, December 1984, pp. 96-112) is the latin expression "quod erat demonstratum" that is meant to conclude a proof and... (more)
The Rapture of the Nerds (2004)
Cory Doctorow / Charles Stross
This story is set in Stross's "Accelerando" series, due for publication in novel form in 2005, offering a worm's eye view of the "Vinge singularity", the supposed moment in the coming decades... (more)
The Remarkable Case of Davidson's Eyes (1895)
Herbert George Wells
Rather than seeing what is actually around him in England, Davidson sees events occurring on a rock off of the Antipodes Island. The explanation offered includes the notion of non-flat geometries for... (more)
Resolution (2006)
John Meaney
This is the third and apparently final novel in the Nulapeiron sequence. In the first two we see Tom use his skills at fighting and mathematics (called "logosophy" in the book) as well as knowledge gained... (more)
Riding the Crocodile (2005)
Greg Egan
A couple from the race of “Amalgam” wanted to carry out one project before choosing to die after a life spanning tens of thousands of years: Establishing contact with the elusive race called “Aloof”.... (more)
The Rithmatist (2013)
Brandon Sanderson
Geometric chalk drawings have magical power in this Harry Potter-like book for teens. In fact, it takes place in an "alternate universe" where Earth's history is different. Since "Rithmatics" was discovered... (more)
Robbins v. New York (2008)
Colin Adams
The author of the Mathematical Intelligencer's "Mathematically Bent" column has a talent for making me laugh, and this piece which has the US Supreme Court justices debating higher math and modern physics... (more)
The Romance of Mathematics: Being the Original Researches of a Lady Professor of Girtham College... (1886)
Peter Hampson Ditchfield
The Reverend Peter Hampson Ditchfield (1854-1930) was the author of many novels and histories, including this odd piece that claims to be compiled from the lecture notes and diaries of a "lady professor",... (more)
Rough Strife (1980)
Lynne Sharon Schwartz
This is the story of the courtship, marriage and affairs of Ivan (who works on the business side of the art world) and Caroline (a math professor). Although there are plenty of clues to the knowledgeable... (more)
Round the Moon (1870)
Highly Rated!
Jules Verne
This early science fiction novel about space travel (published originally in French, of course) contains two chapters with explicit (and very nice) mathematical content. In Chapter 4 (A Little Algebra)... (more)
Schild's Ladder (2002)
Highly Rated!
Greg Egan
Far in the future, the mathematical theory of "quantum graph theory" is the theory of physics. Unlike the current theories of relativity and quantum physics, which are obviously approximations that... (more)
The Secret Life of Amanda K. Woods (1998)
Ann Cameron
(A preteen novel, obscurely set in the 50s, only skimmed by me. I was attracted by the Moebius strip on the cover of the Scholastic edition. It was a National Book Award finalist, I presume... (more)
Shell (1987)
Stephen Baxter
Humanity, trapped and quarantined by the Xeelee in hyperspace (see "Stephen Baxter - The Eighth Room"), live on a spherical world apparently surrounded by a huge shell. The Shell harbors life and a group... (more)
Simpsons (Episode: Homer3) (1995)
John Swarzwelder / Steve Tomkins / David S. Cohen
In this segment from an episode of "The Simpsons" cartoon, Homer finds a portal to the third dimension while trying to hide from his sisters-in-law. This is a joke on the fact that they are usually... (more)
Sir Cumference and the... (1997)
Highly Rated!
Cindy Neuschwander
These are pun filled picture books. To be honest, they do not appeal to me at all; I would give them low ratings for both literary quality and mathematical content. However, as you can see from the comments... (more)
The Sirdar's Chess-Board (1885)
Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer
A military bride travelling in Afghanistan is surprised when a mystic is able to cut up a chess board ("with three snips of my scissors") and put it back together so that the number of squares has increased... (more)
Solid Geometry (1976)
Ian McEwan
This short story from McEwan's award winning first collection is about a man who learns some topology from his grandfather's journals...but not your average topology. He learns how to fold surfaces (like... (more)
The Song of the Geometry Instructor (1985)
Ralph M. Berry
While snowed in at his home, a geometer writes to his former lover about his students, his discoveries and how much he misses her. This is one of those literary art pieces by an author for whom mathematics... (more)
Sorority House (1956)
Jordan Park (Cyril M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl)
Sorority House is a lesbian pulp novel written in 1956 by Cyril M. Kornbluth (1923-1958) and Frederik Pohl (1919- ) under the pen name "Jordan Park". The main character is a mentally unstable young... (more)
Space Bender (1928)
Edward Rementer
This is another story which uses the convenient device of the fourth dimension for rapid spatial transport. This time, Prof. Jason Livermore is the one who disappears entirely from the face of the earth... (more)
Spaceland (2002)
Rudy Rucker
Yet another Flatland "sequel" in which silicon valley genius Joe Cube (an obvious reference to characters A. Square and A. Cube in Abbott's original) gets caught up in a war between four-dimensional beings... (more)
Spacetime Donuts (1981)
Rudy Rucker
The story is set in a chaotic setting (it's a Rucker novel!) of an all-providing-but-oppressive society. The society is controlled in large parts by a supercomputer, PhizWhiz, and its political masters.... (more)
The Spacetime Pool (2008)
Catherine Asaro
Janelle, recently graduated from MIT with a degree in math, is pulled through the "branch cut" between two universes to an alternate Earth where two sword wielding brothers rule half the world. There,... (more)
Sphereland: A Fantasy About Curved Spaces and an Expanding Universe (1965)
Highly Rated!
Dionys Burger
This "sequel" to Flatland deals in a very simplistic sense with the notion of intrinsic curvature (curvature of space itself) in the same way that the original dealt with dimension. (See also the more... (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)
Starman Jones (1953)
Robert A. Heinlein
These adventures of Max Jones, a boy who runs away from Ozark home and works his way up the ranks of a starship is a nice example of classical science fiction as well as being a bit mathematical. The... (more)
Sticks (2002)
Joan Bauer
Fifth grader Mickey Vernon gets help from his "math whiz" friend in beating a bully at pool in this novel for children. Some reviewers complained that the plot was slow and that the harping on mathematics... (more)
Strange Attractors (1993)
Highly Rated!
Rebecca Goldstein
"Strange attractors: Collection of short stories, some of which have mathematical content. Two stories (the geometry of soap bubbles and impossible love and strange attractors) figure the same main... (more)
A Subway Named Moebius (1950)
Highly Rated!
A.J. Deutsch
When the MBTA (Boston's Public Transportation authority) introduces a new line, the topology of the network become so complex that a train vanishes...lost in some fourth dimensional properties of the... (more)
Surfing through Hyperspace (2001)
Clifford Pickover
FBI agents investigate the disappearance of people abducted into the fourth dimension. Along the way, the agents learn about degrees of freedom, quaternions, nonorientable surfaces, mathematics of hyperspheres, and numerous other mathematics relating to higher spatial geometries. (more)
Sword Game (1968)
H.H. Hollis
A topologist manages to create a time-smeared tesseract whose interior moves extremely slowly through time (from our perspecctive) while the exterior moves at the normal pace. He uses the tesseract to... (more)
Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893)
Lewis Carroll
The sequel to his somewhat popular book "Sylvie and Bruno" never achieved the popularity of the original. This lack of success may or may not be related to Chapter VII (entitled "Mein Herr") of the... (more)
Technical Error (1946)
Arthur C. Clarke
During the last phases of construction, a huge supercooled superconducting generator is accidentally given a surge of current. At that moment, an engineer is at the center of its field and is somehow... (more)
The Siege Of The "Lancashire Queen" (1906)
Jack London
Describes how the capture of illegal shrimp-poachers becomes a problem of triangular geometry and relative speeds of chase. In particular, the pirates, trapped on a ship, the chasing posse and the point... (more)
Three Cornered Wheel (1963)
Poul Anderson
Sometimes a surprising mathematical fact will inspire a science fiction story to illustrate it. I suspect that is what happened with this story that comes up with a contrived circumstance in which the... (more)
Tiger by the Tail (1951)
A.G. Nourse
A pocketbook contains a gateway to another universe, and a group of unlikely heroes tries to save ours from the aliens there by reaching in and grabbing it. This is a cute short story, with a not-particularly-sound... (more)
Tigor (aka The Snowflake Constant) (1991)
Peter Stephan Jungk
In this novel, a mathematics professor is emotionally wounded to the point of temporary insanity by the lack of acceptance of his geometric theory of snowflakes and runs away. His journey takes him to... (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)
Touch-Me-Not (2010)
Cynthia Riggs
In this installment of a series of mystery novels set on Martha's Vineyard, an electrician accidentally murders an employee who was blackmailing him and then is killed himself. Throughout most of the... (more)
The Tower of Babylon (2002)
Ted Chiang
There really is almost no mathematics in this bizarre story that hauntingly combines religion with science fiction. However, the "punchline" is entirely topological in nature. This story can be... (more)
The Translated Man (2009)
Chris Braak
Since the horrific Excelsior disaster, the subject of aetheric geometry has been banned. The ethical dilema for a young psychic is whether he should reveal to the detective he is assisting the tremendous... (more)
Turnabout (1955)
Gordon R. Dickson
It's a story about a physics professor who is investigating a device that creates planar force-fields. In its first run, an explosion destroys the device and the physicist is trying to obtain an answer... (more)
Twisters (1988)
Paul J. Nahin
A medical doctor stumbles onto a dangerous trap in this short story which was published in Analog (Vol CVIII No 6, May 1988). The twisted donuts sold by the new shop he passes on the way to work turn out to be Klein bottles (a topological oddity like the Mobius strip). (more)
Two Moons (2000)
Thomas Mallon
A historical novel set in Washington DC of the late 19th century in which astronomers and the Naval Observatory (aided by the "computer" Cynthia May) deal with scientific and political matters of the... (more)
Vanishing Point (1959)
C.C. Beck
The short story is another take on the true nature of reality and one man's quest to unmask it. It is more an idea piece than a full-fledged development. An artist, Carter, who is a trained mathematician... (more)
A Victim of Higher Space (1917)
Algernon Blackwood
This is another of the John Silence tall-tales, this time involving a man who learns to visualize 4-dimensional space and then starts slipping in and out of the hyperspace. As he describes it, "This... (more)
Visitors from Oz : The Wild Adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodsman (1999)
Martin Gardner
You wouldn't believe it, but the famous popular math writer produced a sequel to the Oz books in which Dorothy travels to New York City through a Klein bottle (built out of two Mobius strips by the same fellow who built the Tin Man). I have not read the book, but it apparently involves a mathematical puzzle of some sort. (more)
The Wall of Darkness (1946)
Highly Rated!
Arthur C. Clarke
In a universe consisting of one star and one planet, there is a mysterious impenetrable wall surrounding the entire planet in the deep freezing southlands. Two men, one with money, the other... (more)
What Dead Men Tell (1949)
Theodore Sturgeon
A supergenius discovers a secret society amongst us that is guarding the secret of immortality. He elects to take their entry examination, which has immediate death as the price... (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)
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)

Home All New Browse Search About

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)