MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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49 matches found out of 1149 entries

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

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)
Art Thou Mathematics? (1978)
Highly Rated!
Charles Mobbs
Short story (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, October 1978 Vol. 98 No 10) concerning the very nature of mathematical discovery. It was later rewritten in the form of a play, which the author has... (more)
Been a long, long time (1970)
R.A. Lafferty
It's a very well-written humorous tale (as expected if you're familiar with Lafferty). The mathematical content is a literal interpretation of the six typing monkeys. The angel Boshel, as a punishment,... (more)
The Book of Sand (1975)
Jorge Luis Borges
"The line is made up of an infinite number of points; the plane of an infinite number of lines; the volume of an infinite number of planes; the hypervolume of an infinite number of volumes. .... (more)
The Brink of Infinity (1936)
Highly Rated!
Stanley G. Weinbaum
A mathematics professor is kidnapped by a madman with a grudge against mathematicians, who threatens dire consequences unless the prof can solve a math riddle he has concocted: by asking ten questions,... (more)
Cantor's War (1974)
Christopher Anvil
In my opinion, this story is slanderous and the author should be ashamed. The plot involves a science fiction scenario in which the human military is battling aliens in "tau space". Whenever we send... (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)
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)
Continuums (2008)
Highly Rated!
Robert Carr
The decisions we make and the difficulty in accepting the consequences is the main focus of this book about a Romanian mathematician who leaves her country and her daughter to be in a place that she could... (more)
The Countable (2011)
Ken Liu
An autistic boy finds comfort in Cantor's discovery that the set of fractions is greatly outnumbered by the set of irrationals. (See, for example, Cantor's Diagonal Argument.) I did not much enjoy... (more)
Crunch (2003)
John Gould
A short story in which a man tries to explain to his son, Barry, the relative sizes of things when the child happens to ask, “How small is in-fin-ite-ly small?”. So father and son start exploring... (more)
A Disappearing Number (2007)
Highly Rated!
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)
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)
The Exploration of Space (1972)
Barrington J. Bayley
The author has used - as in some of his other stories like "The problem of Morley's Emission" - a story format to lay out some of his philosophical speculations, in this instance about the nature of... (more)
The Extraordinary Hotel or the Thousand and First Journey of Ion the Quiet (1968)
Highly Rated!
Stanislaw Lem
Here, the famous Polish author toys with the counter-intuitive nature of the countably-infinite by postulating the existence of an intergalactic hotel with rooms indexed by the positive integers. For instance,... (more)
The Face of the Waters (1991)
Robert Silverberg
The novel is set on a water-logged planet called “Hydros”, populated by artificial islands floating on a planet-spanning ocean. A few humans on one of the islands end up offending the local “Dwellers”... (more)
FYI (1961)
James Blish
This story contains a brief explanation of the transfinite cardinals and their arithmetic as part of a scary bit of science fiction. Why, you may ask (and the character in the story does), do the transfinite cardinals... (more)
The Gnome and the Pearl of Wisdom: A Fable (1977)
Highly Rated!
Richard Willmott
A greedy gnome with a countably infinite collection of marbles wants to trade it with Merlin the mathematician for his beautiful "pearl of wisdom". Merlin takes advantage of the gnomes unfamiliarity... (more)
Hilbert's Hotel (1999)
Ian Stewart
Another take on the idea (attributed to lectures by David Hilbert) that the bizarre properties of the countably infinite can best be presented through the analogy of a hotel. Here, Mr. and Mrs. Smith... (more)
The Infinite Assassin (1991)
Highly Rated!
Greg Egan
Originally published in `Interzone #48', June 1991. There are multiple realities. As the narrator puts it, `the number of parallel worlds is uncountably infinite - infinite like the real numbers, not... (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)
The Infinite Tides (2012)
Christian Kiefer
A somber novel about an astronaut whose daughter dies tragically and wife leaves him while he is in space. Since he and his daughter were both mathematical prodigies, for whom math was not only a beloved... (more)
Infinities (2002)
John Barrow
This play, written by Cambridge cosmologist John Barrow, has been produced and performed in Italy (Milan and Valencia). It is made up of five separate vignettes several of which touch on the deep mathematics... (more)
Infinities (2010)
Vandana Singh
A nicely written story about Abdul Karim, a mathematics teacher at the local municipal school, set against the backdrop of the religious turmoil between Hindus and Muslims in India. I couldn’t quite... (more)
The Infinities (2010)
John Banville
As mathematician Adam Godley lies seemingly unconscious and dying in bed, his family and professional rival wander through his home. The title is a reference to the computational anomalies in quantum... (more)
The Infinitive of Go (1980)
John Brunner
John Brunner's novel, "The Infinitive of Go" is a story about teleporting devices based on a "posting" principle affecting living objects in the process of "posting" - the author describes it in terms... (more)
Jack and the Aktuals, or, Physical Applications of Transfinite Set Theory (2008)
Rudy Rucker
As the title suggests, the seemingly completely abstract Continuum Hypothesis is found to be manifested in the physical universe in this bizarre short story. It is very similar in feel and content to... (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 Last Answer (1980)
Isaac Asimov
Physicist Murray Templeton dies and is then surprised to find that he somehow still exists. Murray engages in a conversation with his Creator (who is bemused at being called `God'),... (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)
Logicomix (2008)
Highly Rated!
Apostolos Doxiadis / Christos Papadimitriou
A graphic novel on the history of mathematical logic by the authors of Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture and Turing. In an interview (available online here) Papadimitriou says: It is really... (more)
Long Division (2003)
Michael Redhill
The title of this short story refers both to arithmetic, a beloved subject of the school age child at its center, and the separation that his mother feels from him and his father due to the child's extraordinary... (more)
Lost 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)
Math Girls (2007)
Highly Rated!
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)
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)
Mister God, This is Anna (1985)
Fynn
Though it is presented as if it were non-fiction, 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)
Mortal Immortal (1833)
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
This fantasy story by the author of Frankenstein, about a man who drinks a half dose of a potion that bestows immortality, is only borderline mathematical fiction. The only arguably mathematical part... (more)
Numberland (1987)
George Weinberg
The co-author (with John Schumaker) of STATISTICS: AN INTUITIVE APPROACH, and practicing psychotherapist, tells a charming little fable about Numberland. Peace, harmony,... (more)
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)
Highly Rated!
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)
Ripples in the Dirac Sea (1988)
Highly Rated!
Geoffrey A. Landis
A time machine story based on a combination of Hilbert's Hotel analogy and the "Fermi Sea". We read of the travels of the main character to the ancient past, to the San Francisco earthquake and to the... (more)
Shakespeare Predicted it All (2003)
Dietmar Dath
An artistically composed piece about Georg Cantor, inventor of the theory of transfinite cardinals, in the form of a dialogue between the characters "1" and "2", both of whom are either Cantor or Hamlet.... (more)
Six Thought Experiments Concerning the Nature of Computation (2005)
Rudy Rucker
These are six very short stories, a few of which have mathematical themes. In the first story, Lucky Number, a game programmer spots some "lucky numbers" spray painted on a train. On a whim, he uses... (more)
The Third Party (2004)
David Moles
Two conflicting groups of humans make contact with a forgotten human world. One of the natives turns out to be a brilliant mathematician, independently discovering Cantor's diagonalization argument, and is confused that a colleague considers it obvious. This short story appeared in the September 2004 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. (more)
Touch the Water, Touch the Wind (1972)
Amos Oz
Amos Oz, the famous Israeli author and political activist, wrote this mathematical, musical and mystical novel about a Holocaust survivor who proves a terribly important theorem about "infinity" while... (more)
Uncle Georg's Attic (2002)
Ben Schumacher
This short story appeared in the September 2002 issue of "Math Horizons", published by the Mathematical Association of America. In it, some kids look through an attic containing lots of stuff belonging... (more)
The Universal Library [Die Universalbibliothek] (1901)
Kurd Lasswitz
This early "science fiction" story explores the notion of a library containing every possible five hundred page book and an English translation appears in the classic mathematical fiction collection Fantasia... (more)
The Visiting Professor (1994)
Highly Rated!
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)
White Light, or What is Cantor's Continuum Problem? (1980)
Highly Rated!
Rudy Rucker
I think the best description of this book is Naked Lunch meets The Wild Numbers, with a cameo appearance by Donald Duck's nephews. Happily, this book has recently been rereleased (2001) in a new format... (more)

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Your Help Needed: Some site visitors remember reading works of mathematical fiction that neither they nor I can identify. It is time to crowdsource this problem and ask for your help! You would help a neighbor find a missing pet...can't you also help a fellow site visitor find some missing works of mathematical fiction? Please take a look and let us know if you have seen these missing stories anywhere!.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)