MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Topic=Logic/Set Theory

98 matches found out of 1158 entries

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

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)
Actuarial / The Paradox Paradox (2010)
Buzz Mauro
These two extremely short stories by Mauro, part of his thesis project which consisted entirely of original works of mathematical fiction, appeared in the December 2010 issue of Prime Number Magazine. Actuarial... (more)
The Adventures of the Parrot (2008)
Gary Brown
Gary I. Brown, chair of the math department at CSBSJU in St. Joseph MN, has written two detective stories in which "The Parrot" uses mathematics (specifically, non-zero sum games and fair division problems) to solve the mysteries. The stories appear together in a new book from North Star Press which is available from Amazon.com . (more)
Against the Odds (2001)
Martin Gardner
Luther Washington, a young, African-American 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)
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)
The Atrocity Archives (2004)
Highly Rated!
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 Axiom of Choice (2009)
David Corbett
An extremely well-crafted short story in which math professor coldly recounts for a detective how the bloody bodies of his wife and his student came to be in his house. It is not really a murder mystery,... (more)
The Axiom of Choice (2011)
David W. Goldman
A ``choose-your-own-adventure'' story about a guitarist who must face the consequences of his decision to take a plane ride that ended in disaster. A brief but very nice discussion of The Axiom of Choice... (more)
Battle of the Frog and the Mouse (1984)
John Barrow
This succinct, well-writtten fable captures the polemics between Hilbert and Brouwer related to Hilbert's Formalist position and Brouwer's Constructivist position vis a vis the foundations of mathematics... (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)
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)
Brazzaville Beach (1990)
William Boyd
Main character is a women studying chimpanzees in Africa, but her ex-husband is a set theorist who goes mad because he fails to prove a theorem. One of my favourite authors, and one of his best... (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 Catalyst (1991)
Desmond Cory
Mathematics professor John Dobie gets caught up in a truly mind-boggling 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)
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)
The Chosen (1967)
Chaim Potok
In Chaim Potok's classic novel about two Jewish teenagers growing up in New York City at the end of World War II, one of the two boys expresses an interest in symbolic logic: 'What kind of mathematics... (more)
Conjure Wife (Dark Ladies) (1953)
Fritz Leiber
Norman Saylor, a professor of anthropology/sociology, discovers his wife has been practicing magic for years, and that their house is loaded with charms. Annoyed at her secret superstitious bent, he... (more)
Context (2005)
John Meaney
This is the second book in the Nulapeiron Sequence by John Meaney. The protagonist is still Tom Corcorigan, who in the first novel rose from slavery to royalty in part because of his "logosophical" (read... (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 Cyberiad (1967)
Stanislaw Lem
I was perusing your site and I happened to think of a great addition to your list. It's by Polish philosopher Stanislaw Lem and called "The Cyberiad". It's about the adventures of two super "inventors"... (more)
Dark Integers (2007)
Highly Rated!
Greg Egan
The ``cold war'' between this universe with our mathematical laws and a bordering universe with different ones (which began in "Luminous") heats up when the numerical experiments of a mathematical physicist... (more)
Division by Zero (1991)
Highly Rated!
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)
Domaine (2009)
Patric Chiha (screenplay and director)
This subtle, slow and depressing French film concerns the relationship between a homosexual teenager and his alcoholic aunt. She is a math professor whose research is connected to Gödel's Theorem, and... (more)
The Einstein Enigma (2010)
José Rodrigues Dos Santos
An adventure novel whose MacGuffin is a proof of the existence of God, formulated and hidden by Albert Einstein. There is more talk than action, which may disappoint some readers. For those interested... (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)
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)
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 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)
A Foundation in Wisdom (2012)
Robert Loyd Watson
A hitchhiker named Sheridan captivates the man kind enough to offer him a ride with fantastic tales of the Roman village of Ebon and the hero named Marcus who saved it from a giant dachshund named Dachy. Both... (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)
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)
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, Escher Bach: an eternal golden braid (1979)
Highly Rated!
Douglas Hofstadter
Pulitzer Prize wining book whose chapters alternate between fictional "dialogues" and more standard non-fiction format to present ideas from philosophy, art, music and psychology as well as mathematical... (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 non-sequitor, one of the characters in the story guesses that the numbers... (more)
Gödel's Sunflowers (1992)
Highly Rated!
Stephen Baxter
Far in the future, a human explores a giant fractal construction which is a physical realization of the total knowledge of the creatures which created it long ago. In the process he learns about (more)
Getaway from Getawehi (1969)
Colin Kapp
Colin Kapp has written a few stories which have some good, hard SF mixed up with highly tongue-in-cheek, believable flights of fancy. The present story is set on the single planet, Getawehi, of a rogue... (more)
The Goddess of Small Victories [La déesse des petites victoire] (2012)
Yannick Grannec
A beautifully written novel about the life of Kurt Gödel. In fact, it is not Kurt himself or his math, but his wife Adele who is the focus of attention. The set up of the story is that Adele has refused... (more)
Herbrand's Conjecture and the White Sox Scandal (1993)
Eliot Fintushel
Hi, I'm Eliot Fintushel, the author of HERBRAND'S CONJECTURE AND THE WHITE SOX SCANDAL. The idea is that the mathematical logician Jacques Herbrand who actually did die in a mountaineering accident... (more)
Herr Doctor's Wondrous Smile (1998)
Highly Rated!
Vladimir Tasic
In this short story, a logician who really does not take the superstitions of numerology seriously is invited to a "fringe" conference where he delivers a talk on the mystical implications of Gregory... (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 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 Light of What We Know (2014)
Zia Haider Rahman
The plot of this novel involves the financial industry around the time of the 2008 crash, Afghanistan after the American invasion, and the romance between a very clever man who grew up poor in Bangladesh... (more)
Incomplete Proofs (2012)
John Chu
This unusual piece combines equal parts fashion industry and math research, with a dash of fantasy and just a pinch of homo-eroticism. Grant does a favor for his old partner, Duncan, by modeling his new... (more)
Incompleteness (2004)
Apostolos Doxiadis
A play by the author of Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture on the last, sad days in the life of Kurt Gödel. After a "workshop production" in Athens, Greece (June 24-28, 2003) the show's official... (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 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)
Izzy at the Lucky Three (1996)
Eliot Fintushel
There are two kinds of weird: good weird and bad weird. This story is the third kind. I mean, what can you say about a story in which the Yiddishe mystic Izzy encounters the demon spirit who created... (more)
Journey into a Dark Heart (1998)
Peter Hoeg
This story appears in the collection Tales of the Night made up of stories by Hoeg that are all set on the evening of March 19, 1929. In this one, a depressed young Danish mathematician takes a train... (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)
The Kingdom of Ohio (2009)
Matthew Flaming
Cheri-Anne Toledo, the daughter of the King of Ohio, uses her mathematical skills (and the assistance of Nikola Tesla) to build a device that is supposed to be able transport people instantaneously from... (more)
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 Library Paradox (2006)
Catherine Shaw
Vanessa Duncan returns as the skilled amateur detective of Victorian England in this third mystery novel by "Catherine Shaw". (See The Three-Body Problem and Flowers Stained with Moonlight for the earlier... (more)
The Logic Pool (1997)
Stephen Baxter
The Logic Pool deals with an intelligence that is similar to the meme-minds in Gregory Benford's Foundations Fear. Meme-mind -- I think this means some sort of intelligence whose existence arises... (more)
A Logical Magician (1994)
Robert Weinberg
A very creative romp through the lore of creatures of mythology and their return in modern times. A computer programmer creates a program to decode ancient texts and find the incantations to invoke powerful... (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)
Lucy and David and the God Equation (2011)
Alan McKenzie
Lucy, a freshman at a Scottish University, and David, the graduate student who leads the problem sessions for her physics class, discuss the mathematical and philosophical implications of Gödel's First... (more)
Luminous (1995)
Highly Rated!
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)
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)
A Mathematical Mystery Tour: Discovering the Truth and Beauty of the Cosmos (1999)
Highly Rated!
A.K. Dewdney
A "chicken and the egg"-type question of interest to fans of mathematics is this: "Are mathematical results discovered or invented?" To answer this question, A.K. Dewdney takes a "mathematical" tour... (more)
The Mathematics of Magic (1940)
L. Sprague de Camp / Fletcher Pratt
The "Enchanter Stories" by de Camp and Pratt are a very popular series of SF/fantasy stories whose protagonist, Harold Shea, is able to travel to other universes using symbolic logic. "The Mathematics... (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)
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)
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)
Multi-Colored Dome (1987)
Martin Gardner
A light-hearted, short story about a shy but precocious Math student working on symbolic logic (“he had read “Principia Mathematica” when he was in high school, and understood it, too”). Thesis... (more)
The Mummy and Miss Nitocris: A Phantasy of the Fourth Dimension (1906)
George Griffith
In his presentation entitled "An Examination of Some Supposed Mathematical Impossibilities" before the Royal Society, Professor Marmion demonstrates that he can do three geometric constructions that mathematicians... (more)
Nachman from Los Angeles (2002)
Leonard Michaels
This second "Nachman" story by Leonard Michaels is a flashback to a time when the UCLA mathematician was a graduate student and hired by a rich Arabian prince to ghostwrite a philosophy paper for him.... (more)
Not a Chance (2009)
Peter Haff
A student harangues his physics professor about the possibility that all mathematical proofs are incorrect. His argument is based on the supposed uncertainty about the validity of proofs of the Four Color... (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)
One, True Platonic Heaven: A Scientific Fiction of the Limits of Knowledge (2003)
John L. Casti
A novel about the limits of scientific knowledge set at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Mathematicians Kurt Gödel and John von Neumann are among the principle characters (along with... (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)
The Oxford Murders (2004)
Guillermo Martinez
A young, Argentinian mathematician visiting the UK is drawn into a murder mystery when his landlord (a woman who had worked as a code breaker during World War II) is killed. A clue and the words "The... (more)
Paradox (2000)
Highly Rated!
John Meaney
Young Tom Corcorigan seems to represent the lowest "caste" in the extremely hierarchical human society of the year 3404. However, his mathematical abilities (he is able to figure out a way around Gödel's... (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)
Planck Time (2004)
Michael Iwoleit
The setting is 2036 to 2038. A 140-km long linear collider ("Super Large Hadron Collider") has been installed at one of the L5 points in earth orbit. Some unknown technology must have been discovered... (more)
Planck Zero (1992)
Stephen Baxter
Baxter's hard-SF ideas are often quite stunning in their scope and creativity. "Planck Zero" is no exception to this. An advanced species of aliens - the Ghosts - have started conducting experiments... (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)
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)
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 Shackles of Conviction (2008)
James R. Meyer
This novel intersperses a fictionalized account of the life of Kurt Gödel with the modern tale of an engineer who realizes (and eventually convinces the world) that Gödel's proof was flawed and that his (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)
Space (1911)
John Buchan
This mystical story, as recounted by a lawyer, is about a brilliant mathematician ("an erratic genius who had written some articles in Mind on that dreary subject, the mathematical conception of infinity",... (more)
Spying on My Dreams (2000)
Laurence Howard
In my second novel, Spying on My Dreams, my protagonist, a mathematician working for a computer game company, uses fuzzy logic to integrate Eastern and Western thought, and hence finds the meaning of... (more)
The Symbolic Logic of Murder (1960)
John Reese
Through a combination of biblical mnemonics and Boolean algebra, our heroes are able to solve a mysterious murder. Appears in Mathematical Magpie. (more)
The Sleepwalkers (Schlafwandler) (1931)
Hermann Broch
The third part of this trilogy contains digressions in which Broch talks about logic, mathematical axioms, and projective geometry. According to these digressions, the lack of style of mathematics resembles the style of modernity. (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)
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)
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 non-trivial) mathematician "discovers" that three times zero equal three, and we... (more)
Turing (A Novel About Computation) (2003)
Highly Rated!
Christos Papadimitriou
The four vertices of an unlikely love "rectangle" are (a) a dying, maverick cryptographer, (b) a pregnant Internet wiz, (c) a romantic middle-aged Greek archaeologist and (d) Turing, an artificially intelligent... (more)
Ultima Dea [The Last Goddess] (1994)
Gianni Riotta
Unfortunately this book does not appear to have been translated from the original Italian. One of the central characters in the book, Alfred Diognetus (described as a "saint mathematician") is the... (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)
Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture (1992)
Highly Rated!
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)
Waiting for Citizen Gödel (2005)
Howard V. Hendrix
Short story revolving around Godel's application for US citizenship. There is a well-known episode from Godel's life, where Einstein and Oscar Morgenstern took Godel for his citizenship oath. Godel,... (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)
What Happened at Cambridge IV (1990)
David Langford
This is another BLIT story by David Langford; this time, a brilliant mathematician working on a neuro-mathematical model of the brain finds a type of visual input that doesn't just slow it down but causes... (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)
The World as I Found It (1987)
Bruce Duffy
A fictionalized "biography" of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein including a portrayal of Bertrand Russell. "Very enjoyable, but barely scratches the surface of Wittgenstein's life, work, and character... (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)