MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Topic=Mathematical Physics

143 matches found out of 1153 entries

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

The 39 Steps (1935)
Alfred Hitchcock (director)
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 thriller follows the getaway of Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), a man accused of murder. While Hannay must outsmart the police in his escape, he also finds himself sought... (more)
7 Steps to Midnight (1993)
Richard Matheson
In this unnerving, `Kafka-esque' suspense novel by well known horror author Richard Matheson, a government mathematician sees reality collapse around him as his life is turned into a surrealistic version... (more)
The Adventure of the Russian Grave (1995)
William Barton / Michael Capobianco
Even in the old Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Sherlock Holmes' arch-nemesis was a mathematician. Moriarty was said to be a math professor who (when he wasn't being evil) worked on the binomial theorem and... (more)
The Ah of Life (2010)
Banks Helfrich (Writer and Director)
At the beginning of this film we see various stages in the life of Nigel. We see him as a high school student about to fail math due to lack of interest in the subject. We see him as an old man who enjoys... (more)
Another New Math (2005)
Alex Kasman
A mathematician and his young daughter try to convince a school board to consider teaching advanced mathematics to elementary school children in this short story that appeared in the collection Reality... (more)
Apartheid, Superstrings and Mordecai Thubana (1991)
Michael Bishop
I don't want to get into a debate here about whether superstrings are math or physics. I know mathematicians and physicists who would argue (with some good points on each side) that it is in their area... (more)
Applied Mathematical Theology (2006)
Gregory Benford
Benford, a physicist and science fiction author, wrote this piece about a message hidden in the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMB) for the journal Nature's "Futures" column. It cites (fictional)... (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)
Arcadia (1993)
Highly Rated!
Tom Stoppard
Stoppard's critically successful play includes long discussions of topics of mathematical interest including: Fermat's Last Theorem and Newtonian determinism, iterated algorithms, the second law of thermodynamics, Fourier's... (more)
Artifact (1985)
Gregory Benford
In this novel a team of scientists investigates a mysterious archaeological find. It soon becomes apparent that more than just archaelogy will be needed to understand it, and so a pair of physicists... (more)
Émilie (2010)
Kaija Saariaho (composer)/Amin Maalouf (libretto)
In this opera, a single performer portrays the final days in the life of Émilie du Châtelet, whose promising career as a mathematical physicist in the 18th century was tragically cut short at the age of 42. Émilie du Châtelet's story is also told in two recent plays: see Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight and Legacy of Light . (more)
The Bishop Murder Case (1929)
Highly Rated!
S.S. van Dine (pseudonym of Willard Huntington Wright)
Our hero, Vance, says at the end of this mystery novel: "At the outset I was able to postulate a mathematician as the criminal agent. The difficulty of naming the murderer lay in the fact that nearly... (more)
Blowups Happen (1940)
Robert A. Heinlein
A mathematician discovers that his formulas predict that an important new power station poses an extremely grave risk to humanity, and he must convince others of the danger. reprinted in THE PAST... (more)
Boltzmann's Ghost (1998)
Ken Wharton
A physicist encounters an apparently crazy man who tries to convince him that some beings experience time backwards. His intriguing explanation of this phenomenon depends on theoretical physics, and... (more)
The Bones of Time (1996)
Kathleen Ann Goonan
A young 21st century mathematician named Cen (short for Century) Kalakaua falls in love with a 19th century Hawaiian princess when they meet through an unusual temporal phenomenon. He becomes obsessed... (more)
The Book of Getting Even (2009)
Benjamin Taylor
A brilliant homosexual teenager uses mathematics as an escape from the pressures of everyday life, including his father, a rabbi in 1970's New Orleans. Along the way, he gets to know (and love, in a variety of ways) the family of a Nobel prize winning physicist and he himself becomes a cosmologist. (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)
Buried Alive at the End of the World (2011)
Blair Bourrassa
A completely paralyzed mathematician receives congratulations from colleagues and other hospital visitors on the culmination of his research in a large scale physics experiment that is about to be conducted..but... (more)
Calculating God (2000)
Robert J. Sawyer
Though it is considerably less mathematical than Factoring Humanity, it holds together a bit better as a novel. Here, we encounter aliens who view the existence of god (a creator of the universe) as a... (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 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)
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)
Coyote Moon (2003)
John A. Miller
Well, this book is hard to describe! It's certainly different and not easily categorizable. It is a novel that addresses the question "What if a young, nerdy, MIT mathematics professor died of cancer... (more)
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)
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)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Robert Wise (director) / Harry Bates (story) / Edmund H. North
One must wonder how aliens might communicate with humans when and if they arrive on Earth. In the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, the extraterrestrial Klaatu (Michael Rennie) introduces himself... (more)
A Deadly Medley of Smedley (2003)
Feargus Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Paradox Patrol officer Julie Anne Callender, with the help of her brother Gregorian and her uncle Newgate, track down yet again the timecrime master of evil Smedley Faversham (and atrocious punmeister)... (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)
The Devil You Don't (1970)
Keith Laumer
The devil (who is not such a bad guy after all) seeks help from a quantum physics expert to fight off some aliens (who are not so evil either) that happen to disrupt the "Randomness Field". This disruption... (more)
The Devouring Tide (1944)
John Russell Fearn (under the pseudonym Polton Cross)
Another horridly written story by JRF, this time about an all-consuming, universe-destroying frontier of “non-spacetime” dubbed “Black Infinity”, a shock wave from the original big bang which... (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)
Dirac (2006)
Dietmar Dath
The protagonist tries to write a novel about the mathematician and physicist Paul Dirac. Excerpts from Dirac's works and Geoffrey A. Landis' novel "Ripples in the Dirac Sea" are implemented in the plot, so you can learn a lot about mathematics and quantum physics. (As far as I know, this novel is currently only available in the original German. Please correct me if I'm wrong.) (more)
The Disposessed (1974)
Ursula K. Le Guin
A utopian novel in which theories of time in mathematical physics ("chronotopology", "sequency and simultaneity", "general temporal theories") play an important role. I have not yet read this book,... (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)
Distress (1995)
Highly Rated!
Greg Egan
My friends and I are all in agreement on this one: this book starts out great (at a mathematical physics conference where people are talking about the latest theories of quantum gravity) but then it degenerates... (more)
Divergence (2007)
Tony Ballantyne
This is the third novel of a trilogy that began with RECURSION and CAPACITY. Set in the 23rd century, the nannying of humanity by government and computers is the cause of some discomfort and rebellion. Along... (more)
Drode's Equations (1981)
Richard Grant
When this story takes place, the fictional "Drode's Equations" have been lost for so long that they have become practically mythological. And so the historian protagonist is surprised to find them in... (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 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)
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)
Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight (2010)
Lauren Gunderson
This play allows Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet, who was a successful mathematical physicist until her tragic death at age 42 in the year 1749, to analyze her own life... (more)
The Exception (2005)
Alex Kasman
Written in the form of a dialogue between a man in a nursing home and his grandchild, this short story describes an undergraduate research project that produces a surprising answer to one of the most famous... (more)
The Fairytale of the Completely Symmetrical Butterfly (2003)
Dietmar Dath
I have long thought that Emmy Noether deserved to be the heroine of a work of mathematical fiction. I had even begun writing a story of my own to fill this gap. But, have no fear, since Dietmar Dath... (more)
The Fatal Equation (1933)
Arthur Strangeland
This is a very well-crafted murder mystery executed quite ingeniously. A mathematical physicist - Jan Friede - sets up a system of 20+ equations which eliminate the time variable from Einstein's equations... (more)
Feigenbaum Number (1995)
Nancy Kress
A postdoc who perceives reality different than other people (he sees something like the Platonic ideals people ought to be) works with a professor on combining chaos theory with particle physics. I'm... (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 Flight That Disappeared (1961)
Reginald Le Borg (Director)
An unsuspecting mathematician and some scientists are taken to another dimension where they stand trial for their involvement in the creation of horrible weapons. Perhaps during the Cold War and before... (more)
A Game of Consequences (1998)
David Langford
Two reckless researchers at "The Mathematics Institute" undertake dangerous "quantum" research based on mathematical mumbo-jumbo like "translating her mathematical intuitions into appropriate quasi-shapes... (more)
The Gates of Heaven (1984)
Paul Preuss
The plot concerns a mathematician whose career has been monotone decreasing. But he comes alive again when a SETI project finds a human message coming from 12 light years away. It seems somebody must have fallen into something like a black hole and our hero tries to understand what happened. (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)
God and Stephen Hawking (2000)
Robin Hawdon
Although most people know him as a "scientist", Stephen Hawking is probably the best known living mathematician. (Technically, he is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.) This play examines his life and work. (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)
Good Benito (1994)
Highly Rated!
Alan P. Lightman
This novel presents many instances in the life of mathematical physicist Bennett Lang, the "Benito" of the title. The different scenes, presented non-chronologically, cover most of his life from early... (more)
The Gostak and the Doshes (1930)
Highly Rated!
Miles J. Breuer (M.D.)
In this classic science fiction story, a mathematical physicist convinces his friend to try to travel into another dimension by merely altering the way he thinks about things. The friend finds himself... (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)
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 Hollow Man (1993)
Dan Simmons
A psychic mathematician is driven to the edge of insanity as his life partner approaches death. The mathematician's research is described explicitly -- as are some of the horrific events that befall... (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 Imaginary (1942)
Isaac Asimov
As Asimov notes in his afterword to it (in THE EARLY ASIMOV), it is mostly about the idea of applying mathematical formulae to psychology, which he later did with his psychohistory in the "Foundation"... (more)
Improbable (2005)
Highly Rated!
Adam Fawer
A probability expert suffering from epilepsy (with hints of schizophrenia) is in over his head with gambling debts to the Russian mob and a beautiful, renegade CIA agent before discovering that he has the ability to predict the future. A running subplot is the mathematical aspects of determinism (i.e. (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 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)
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)
Intoxicating Heights (Höhenrausch. Die Mathematik des XX. Jahrhunderts in zwanzig Gehirnen) (2003)
Dietmar Dath
Word by word I would translate Dath's "Höhenrausch" as "High-altitude Euphoria. Mathematics of the 20th century in 20 brains". It is a collection of short stories and fictional portraits of (I copy... (more)
Jack of Eagles (1952)
James Blish
Blish bases this novel on a quasi-mathematical explanation of ESP and psycho-kinesis which was really not necessary and doesn’t hold together at all (“the activity of the psi mechanism as a whole... (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 Last Starship from Earth (1968)
Highly Rated!
John Boyd
A mathematician named Haldane IV and a poet named Helix fall in love and try to learn the truth about the famous 19th century mathematician Fairweather I. Unfortunately, both of these things are against... (more)
Legacy of Light (2009)
Karen Zacarías
Two tales of discovery and pregnancy are told in this play. An astrophysicist at the Newton Institute whose team has discovered evidence of a planet in formation feels that she is too old to be pregnant... (more)
Let Newton Be! (2011)
Craig Baxter
The three actors in this play portray Isaac Newton at three different stages of his life, as well as occasionally representing other people. Interestingly, the three Newton's interact with each other,... (more)
Life and Fate (1959)
Vasily Grossman
A Russian nuclear physicist flirts with the wife of his mathematician colleague and makes an important mathematical discovery, all during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. I had not heard of this... (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)
Lines of Longitude (1997)
Stephen Baxter
The story tries to delve into Hawking's idea of imaginary time - how it may occur that at the beginning of the universe, time and space were ambiguously defined, smeared out into each other as a flattened... (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)
Mad Destroyer (1930)
Fletcher Pratt
The story is about a mathematician/astronomer who has discovered an exact solution to the multi-body problem in gravitation i.e. a formula which can easily calculate the positions and velocities of N... (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)
El matemático del Rey (2002)
Juan Carlos Arce
It is a novel about a period in the lives of Juan Lezuza and his friend Luis Obelar during the first years of the rule of Phillip IV of Spain. Juan Lezuza is appointed teacher of the King, but it is... (more)
The Mathematician (1967)
Will Manson
Despite the title, there is almost no math in this pulpy spy story. Its Cold War nationalism and sexism date it somewhat, but it is fine as light entertainment, with danger, romance, and a "twist ending". The... (more)
The Mathematician’s Nightmare: The Vision of Professor Squarepunt (1954)
Bertrand Russell
This short story by [renowned philosopher and mathematician Bertrand] Russell is a mild satire on numerology, taking [Sir Arthur] Eddington’s obsession with it and spinning it as a “nightmare”... (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)
Maths on a Plane (2008)
Phil Trinh
This story, about a student flirting with the attractive woman in the seat next to him on a plane, won the student category of the 2008 New Writers Award from Cambridge University's ``Plus+ Magazine''.... (more)
A Matter of Mathematics (2005)
Tony Ballantyne
A story about the attempt by the British to change the tilt of Earth's axis to create a more suitable environment for themselves and how the Americans foil it. The British have been launching incessant... (more)
Maxwell's Equations (2005)
Alex Kasman
James Clerk Maxwell was the 19th century theoretician who discovered electro-magnetic waves. He is often described as a "physicist", but I would argue that he was a mathematician. Certainly some of his... (more)
The Memory of Whiteness (1985)
Kim Stanley Robinson
Far in the future of the human race, the brilliant mathematician Holywelkin discovers a new physical theory that allows us to understand particle physics and build the amazing "whitsuns" which in turn... (more)
The Monopole Affair (2003)
Ken Wharton
This short story in the May 2003 issue of Analog by physicist Wharton includes references to the role of higher dimensions in string theory. References to string theory, but much more about physics than math (which gets a passing mention). (more)
Mozart on Morphine (1989)
Gregory Benford
A mathematician nearly loses his life to appendicitis. While sedated in the hospital, he describes the loony stuff that flits through his head, and how it relates to the subjective and personal processes... (more)
Mrs. Einstein (1998)
Anna McGrail
It's a wonderful novel that invents a history for Einstein's illegitimate daughter, about whom little is known. In the novel, she's a mathematician who becomes obsessed with her father's refusal to acknowledge... (more)
The Music of the Spheres (2001)
Elizabeth Redfern
A highly praised (a la Caleb Carr) historical thriller set in Europe in 1795, involving lots of astronomy. This includes Laplace musing over his theorem that gravitational perturbations are bounded, and his wondering if a similar theorem applies to history. (more)
N Day (1943)
Philip Latham
An astronomer's observations of the sun lead him to predict the sun will go nova in just a few days. The formula that he used for his prediction is included explicitly. "Philip Latham" is the pseudonym of Robert Shirley Richardson. (more)
Napier's Bones (2011)
Derryl Murphy
In the fantasy/SF world of this novel, numerates are special people who are aware of the fact that numbers themselves are alive and can be coaxed or controlled into doing seemingly magical things for them.... (more)
Newton's Hooke (2004)
David Pinner
A play about Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke which presents "the dark side" of Newton. Emphasis is put on his egotism (not only does he think that he is incomparably brilliant, but he also seems to think... (more)
Nice Girl with Five Husbands (1951)
Fritz Leiber
A man is unwittingly swept by a time wind 100 years into the future. He and the people he meets in the future--including the nice girl of the title--talk at cross purposes, but no one realizes... (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)
Numbers Don't Lie (2005)
Terry Bisson
This novel is actually just a compilation of three Wilson Wu short stories ("The Hole in the Hole", "The Edge of the Universe" and "Get Me to the Church on Time") which were previously published in Asimov's... (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)
On the Quantum Theoretic Implications of Newton's Alchemy (2007)
Highly Rated!
Alex Kasman
A postdoc at the mysterious "Institute for Mathematical Analysis and Quantum Chemistry" is surprised to learn that his work on Riemann-Hilbert Problems is being used as part of his employer's crazy alchemy... (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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
PreVision (1936)
John Pierce
The story hangs its hat on a clever observation made long ago by many physicists, including Einstein, about the nature of solutions of Maxwell's equations. Since the equations are time-symmetric, they... (more)
Primary Inversion (1996)
Catherine Asaro
In this first book in her "Skolian Saga" series, Asaro explains how faster-than-light speeds are attainable by using imaginary numbers, and hence frequent mentions of "imaginary space" occur throughout... (more)
Problems for Self-Study (2002)
Charles Yu
The life of a mathematical physicist -- from earning his PhD, through marriage, fatherhood and into a midlife crisis -- presented in the form of homework exercises from a math book. We first meet... (more)
Professor and Colonel (1987)
Ruth Berman
In this unusual story, we get to see another side to Sherlock Holmes' arch enemy, the brilliant but evil mathematician Professor Moriarty. Here, rather than perpetrating a crime, Moriarty is merely visiting with his brother, discussing the significance of his research into asteroid dynamics. (See also Asimov's take on this same subject.) (more)
Properties of Light (2000)
Rebecca Goldstein
This is a beautifully written novel about a theoretical physicist who hates the daughter of a more senior physicist whose work he admires. The real plot of the novel revolves around why he hates her,... (more)
Psychohistorical Crisis (2001)
Donald Kingsbury
In the far future, a group of "psychohistorians" controls the fate of humanity using the mathematical theory of "the founder" in this unauthorized "sequel" to Asimov's Foundation series. Kingsbury's lengthy... (more)
Ratner's Star (1976)
Highly Rated!
Don DeLillo
Billy Terwilliger (aka Twillig) is not your typical 14 year old boy. True, he is beginning to get interested in sex and thinks that the word "fart" is entertaining, but he is also a number theorist and... (more)
Reality Conditions (2005)
Highly Rated!
Alex Kasman
The title story in the collection of the same name, this short story follows a mathematics grad student to a workshop at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. Although the story contains no supernatural... (more)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Sad Strains of a Gay Waltz (1997)
Irene Dische
Like many other mathematicians in fiction (and in real life too?), the protagonist in this novel is brilliant when it comes to calculations but has difficulty with the most commonplace examples of human... (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)
Schwarzschild Radius (1987)
Connie Willis
Connie Willis' short-story ``Schwarzschild Radius'' is based on events in the life of Karl Schwarzschild, who gave the first exact solutions to the equations of general relativity. The historical aspects... (more)
Security (1953)
Poul Anderson
A top secret project uses some mathematical physics to create a new material. As the title makes clear, the secrecy (and what the head of the project is willing to do to achieve it) is really the point... (more)
Shaffery Among the Immortals (1972)
Frederik Pohl
A funny yarn about one Jeremy Shaffery, an astronomer who idolizes Einstein and his methods and who wants to achieve immortal fame by doing something just as famous. The problem is that he is not built... (more)
Singleton (2002)
Greg Egan
This story involves a physicist and a mathematician who have a child -- well, sort of -- that they have specially designed to remain in a "classical" state (as opposed to a quantum superposition of states)... (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)
Spherical Harmonic (2001)
Catherine Asaro
As a child, Dyhianna Selei created a transformation, just a mathematical construct, mapping the real world into an abstract space of "thoughts" (whatever that means) spanned by an infinite set of spherical... (more)
The Star (1897)
Herbert George Wells
Although some of the science is a bit off -- for example, the idea that the rotation of planets has something to do with their ability to orbit the sun or that the "star" formed by the collision of Neptune... (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)
Straw Dogs (1971)
Sam Peckinpah (Director)
Dustin Hoffman stars as an astrophysicist in this violent Peckinpah film. Before the violence starts, Hoffman's wife plays a trick on him by changing some signs (+/-) in an equation he is working with.... (more)
Tau Zero (1970)
Poul Anderson
Special relativity takes center stage in this classic science-fiction novel. So much so that the number tau, by which one must divide an object's rest mass to determine its apparent mass when travelling... (more)
The Theory of Everything (1991)
Lisa Grunwald
Theoretical physicist Alexander Simon is on the verge of making a mathematical discovery of tremendous importance. By collapsing the hidden dimensions in string theory to a 2-dimensional manifold, he... (more)
The Three Body Problem (2004)
Highly Rated!
Catherine Shaw
A cleverly titled novel that uses a historical mathematical contest and several characters based on real mathematicians as the basis for a murder mystery. Of special interest is the novel's presentation... (more)
Timescape (1979)
Gregory Benford
On the positive side, we have a clever idea that shows some of the flavor of modern mathematical physics, some positive comments about mathematics and mathematical name-dropping, and even some mathematical... (more)
Topsy-turvy (Sans Dessus Dessous) (1889)
Jules Verne
The members of the Gun Club want to use a giant cannon's recoil to change the Earth's rotation axis, so they can exploit the presumed coalfields at the North Pole. An unfortunate side effect is that... (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)
The Ultimate Crime (1976)
Isaac Asimov
We all know that Sherlock Holmes' arch enemy was a mathematician, right? (If not, check out Sherlock Holmes.) In fact, his second famous paper was on the dynamics of an asteroid. Now, you may ask,... (more)
The Unknown Quantity (1933)
Hermann Broch
"Here the main character is a mathematician who learns, through love and tragedy, that the `unknown quantity' of life resists mathematical formulation." (more)
White Mars : or, the mind set free : a 21st Century Utopia (2000)
Brian Wilson Aldiss / Roger Penrose
It's not everyday that a mathematician of Penrose's calibre is listed as a coauthor on a science fiction novel. Although he is probably best known to the general public for the Penrose Tiling (a set... (more)
The Woman in Schrödinger's Wave Equations (2005)
Eugene Mirabelli
The artist girlfriend of a grad student working in theoretical physics becomes interested in determining something about the mysterious woman with whom Erwin Schrödinger supposedly had an extra-marital... (more)
The Wonderful Visit (1895)
Herbert George Wells
"An angel, who normally inhabits a fourth dimensional world (with curvature instead of gravitation!) falls into our three dimensional world." (more)
The Writing on the Wall (2005)
Steve Stanton
When he was eight years old, David was visited by an image of his future self, causing him to write mathematical formulas on the wall. (Unfortunately, his parents paint over it before he has a chance... (more)
Ylem (1994)
Eliot Fintushel
Another Fintushel Big-Bang-And-Back Totally-Weird adventure, the plot concerns a business conflict in the helium market. Somebody dickered with the primordial nucleosynthesis, and ... (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)