a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Genre=Science Fiction

510 matches found out of 1366 entries

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

Perhaps you want to read my Survey of Mathematics in Science Fiction?
1963 (1993)
Alan Moore
A six-issue series, one of the best of the retro comics out there. this is Moore's ingenious pastiche of Marvel comics in the critical (for Marvel and for the world) year 1963. Strange things... (more)
2+2=5 (2006)
Rudy Rucker / Terry Bisson
A retired insurance adjuster and a math professor who was fired for telling his students that there are "holes" in the number line pass the time by trying to break a world record for counting. To achieve... (more)
3-adica (2018)
Greg Egan
Sentient characters in a horrific video game combining Jack the Ripper and vampires seek to escape to another game called 3-adica where things are strange but peaceful. This is one of a series of stories... (more)
The Accidental Time Machine (2007)
Joe Haldeman
A few mathematical ideas are tossed around casually in this light and entertaining science fiction story about a lab assistant who realizes before his boss that the device they are working on can be used... (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 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)
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall (2012)
Nancy Kress
The last 26 humans alive resort to kidnapping children from the past in order to save themselves from the oppressive aliens who keep them in "The Shell". Mathematics enters in the form of Julie Kahn,... (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)
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)
Alex Detail's Revolution (2009)
Darren Campo
A teenage genius uses (among other things) knowledge of the Golden Ratio to defeat an alien invasion. Campo handles the description of the math a bit better than some other authors ([cough]...Dan Brown...[cough]) but in the end it is nothing other than a bit of unbelievable mumbo jumbo in an otherwise math-free Sci-Fi adventure. (more)
The Algebraist (2005)
Iain M. Banks
Fassin Taak is a human in the year 4034 who has the job of communicating with the alien species known as "the dwellers". Since the dweller culture is billions of years old, they have accumulated tremendous... (more)
Algorithms and Nasal Structures (1998)
Lois H. Gresh
This short story appears "in Aboriginal Science Fiction, Summer 1998. CS grad student is having trouble programming sheep odors. The story competently uses real programming terminology (stacks, queues, etc). Includes a wee bit of trigonometry. (more)
All on a Golden Afternoon (1956)
Robert Bloch
"The title alludes to Alice in Wonderland, and the story is indeed partly set in the two dream books. One Professor Laroc has extended some mathematical work of Charles Dodgson, and by ... (more)
Altar of Eden (2009)
James Rollins
"Fractals" is the buzz word in this adventure novel in which a veterinarian discovers seemingly mutated animals who were unwittingly brought back to the US by Black Market traders. Including vague references... (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)
Anathem (2008)
Highly Rated!
Neal Stephenson
This ambitious novel takes place on a world in which it is the theoretical scientists and mathematicians (rather than the theologians as on our planet) who have cloistered themselves in ascetic communes,... (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)
Aniara (1956)
Harry Martinson
Aniara is considered one of the greatest works of Swedish author Harry Martinson, 1974 Nobel Prize in Literature co-winner "for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos". It is an epic... (more)
Annals of Klepsis (1983)
R.A. Lafferty
A wacky sci-fi adventure comedy featuring space pirates. There is not much math in the book, but the central plot revolves around a mathematical ``doomsday equation'' and the goal of preventing the horrible... (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)
Antibodies (2000)
Charles Stross
P vs NP is perhaps the greatest problem of theoretical computer science, and has attracted attention of a range of mathematicians, from logic to topology. It's one of the seven Clay Millennium Prize... (more)
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)
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)
Applied Scientific Demiurgy I - Entrance Examination Information Sheet (2019)
Mario Daniel Martín
This document is designed to prepare students for an entrance exam into a university program on creating universes. For example: In this practical entrance examination, the basic abilities of creating... (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 (2016)
Iain Pears
As this clever novel is intentionally a hodge-podge of genres, it is a bit difficult to describe. It involves a British spy brought back from retirement in the 1960s to find a mole, a mathematician in... (more)
Archive (Travelers, Season 3 Episode 8) (2018)
Ken Kabatoff / Brad Wright
Math plays a major role in this episode of the Netflix series "Travelers". Following the show's usual format, the episode begins with a person in the present day going about his normal activity when... (more)
The Arrows of Time [Orthogonal Book Three] (2014)
Greg Egan
Egan's "Orthogonal Trilogy" concludes with the final part of the journey of the Peerless and its crew of scientists, mathematicians and engineers hoping to find a way to save their homeworld from destruction.... (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)
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)
As Above, So Below (2009)
Rudy Rucker
An LSD of a story - in typical Rucker style - where a computer programmer working with the Mandelbrot set is visited upon by a living UFO in the form of the M-set; the UFO named Ma explains to him how... (more)
At Ocean (2016)
Oliver Serang
Because she still makes discoveries with her own brain (unlike most scientists in the near future universe of At Ocean whose discoveries are all made by computers), Eun Kim is selected for a dangerous... (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)
Aurora in Four Voices (1998)
Catherine Asaro
Jato is trapped in Nightingale, a city in permanent darkness, inhabited by mathematical artists who mostly ignore him. Soz arrives to repair her ship, meets Jato, and finds... (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)
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)
Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (1982)
L. Ron Hubbard
In the year 3000, the human race has nearly been destroyed by the Psychlos, an evil alien species who dominate thousands of planets in many universes. Although they view the few remaining humans as little... (more)
The Bees of Knowledge (1975)
Barrington J. Bayley
It's a story about a traveller marooned on a planet, part of which is populated by giant bees which collect the "nectar of knowledge" and make "honey of experience" out of that nectar. The story has a... (more)
Beyond Infinity (2004)
Gregory Benford
Cley is one of the few "original" humans left in a future where most of the characters are genetically enhanced. These engineered lifeforms, whether they are Supras (a highly advanced humanoid) or based... (more)
Big Numbers (1990)
Alan Moore / Bill Sienkiewicz
This comic book (written by Moore and illustrated by Sienkiewicz) was planned as a 12 issue series with a mathematics theme. Unfortunately, due to a lack of cooperation by the artist (and also a substitute... (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)
Binti (2015)
Nnedi Okorafor
Binti has left her village, left the planet Earth, and is on her way to study math at the galaxy's most prestigious university. When the ship is attacked by the fearsome alien race called the Meduse,... (more)
The Black Mirror (1983)
Eric Simon
This story (available in "The Black Mirror and Other Stories" and first published in the anthology, "Ways to Impossibility", 1983) is an interesting twist on the idea of one-sided surfaces. Based on... (more)
Blasphemy (2008)
Douglas Preston
Douglas Preston’s novel, “Blasphemy”, contains a few mathematical references that come up when scientists encounter “God” at the (hypothetical) world’s largest particle collider, SSC II.... (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)
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)
Bloom (1998)
Wil McCarthy
In between blooms of a deadly manmade fungus, the humans discuss cellular automata (especially Conway's Game of Life) and complexity theory. Thanks to Rob Milson for suggesting this book. (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 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 Book of Worlds (1929)
Miles J. Breuer
Another story of 4-D from Miles Breuer, this time with Prof. Cosgrave who builds a "hyper-stereoscope" that can combine 3-dimensional views ("geometrical stereograms") from different angles into a 4-D... (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)
Borzag and the Numerical Apocalypse (2006)
Jason Earls
I must warn you that I am a trained mathematician, but NOT a trained expert on literature. Among other consequences, this means that I sometimes have trouble telling the difference between brilliant,... (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)
Brain Wave (1954)
Poul Anderson
This debut novel from SF superstar Anderson explains that the human intelligence is far more powerful than we have thus far seen. In fact, once we escape from the effects of a force field that is limiting... (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)
By a Fluke (1955)
Arthur Porges
A liver fluke describes its life (from hatching from an egg to its final moments) to an alien who is recording it. As it turns out, these trematatode parasites are not as dumb as we think. In fact, they... (more)
A Calculated Life (2013)
Anne Charnock
This novel is about a brilliant mathematical modeler who works for big business finding correlations (such as that corporate reports tend to use nautical terminology when they are in trouble, even if they... (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)
The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel (2018)
Mary Robinette Kowal
This novel, which is the first in a series of prequels by the author for her Hugo Award-winning story "The Lady Astronaut of Mars", is a sort of alternate history version of Hidden Figures. In the world... (more)
The Call of Cthulhu (1928)
H.P. Lovecraft
This is the most famous story by Lovecraft, which spawned it's own sub-genre and RPG, called the Cthulhu Mythos. It concerns the investigations of Prof. Francis Wayland Thurston as he investigates... (more)
Cantor Trilogy (2015)
Harun Šiljak
An intriguing short work of speculative fiction about a future in which nearly all mathematics research is conducted by computers. In fact, in the story, only one journal (The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics),... (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)
Cap and Gown (2011)
Eric Flint
Richard Leamington has an impact on mathematics at Cambridge University in the 17th Century despite his multiple sclerosis. Although Leamington himself is a fictional character, many of the other characters... (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)
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)
Chaos in Wonderland: Visual Adventures in a Fractal World (1995)
Clifford Pickover
Devoted to a society of mathematicians living in a subterranean chamber of Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter. Status in their societies is determined by the beauty of their fractal dreams. Fractal weapons, chaos theory, the Lyapunov exponent, and strange attractors are featured. (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 Circle of Zero (1936)
Stanley G. Weinbaum
Thanks to Vijay Fafat for pointing out this story (with only a little math in it). A character speculates that the laws of probability predict that anything will happen in an infinite amount of time,... (more)
The Clockwork Rocket [Orthogonal Book One] (2011)
Highly Rated!
Greg Egan
Egan's "Orthogonal Trilogy" explains how the Peerless and its crew of scientists, mathematicians and engineers was launched in the hope if find a way to save their homeworld from destruction. A major... (more)
Cocoon of Terror (2008)
Jason Earls
The protagonist in the latest novel by Jason Earls spends his time hunting down the evil and semi-mystical artist Zelian, and much of his spare time finding integers with interesting aesthetic and number... (more)
The Coincidence Engine (2011)
Sam Leith
A tongue-in-cheek, easy-read, quite enjoyable romp of a story about a reclusive mathematician named “Bancharski”, a play on the names of mathematicians Banach and Tarski (unfortunately, Banach-Tarski... (more)
The Cold Equations (1954)
Tom Godwin
This classic science fiction story is a favorite of English teachers because, even after all of these years, it has the ability to get the attention of and provoke discussion amongst otherwise apathetic... (more)
Conceiving Ada (1997)
Lynn Hershman-Leeson
Bizarre, low-budget film in which a female computer programmer from the 20th century accesses the memories of Ada Lovelace, the 19th century mathematician and daughter of the poet Lord Byron. The film... (more)
Contact (1985)
Highly Rated!
Carl Sagan
This is a fantastic novel; don't skip it just because you saw the movie. Mathematics plays an important role in the book, much more so than in the film. In both, Ellie Arroway detects a message from... (more)
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)
Conversations on Mathematics with a Visitor from Outer Space (1998)
David Ruelle
As the title implies, this is a description of (presumably fictional) discussions that the author had with an alien about mathematics and, in particular, the way that Earth mathematics differs from... (more)
Count to a Trillion (2011)
John C. Wright
A team of the world's top mathematicians is sent to examine an alien artifact which seems to have a tremendous amount of knowledge "written" on it. (I've put "written" in quotes because not only is the... (more)
Critical Point (2020)
S.L. Huang
This is the third novel featuring Cas Russell, a private detective with superhuman mathematical abilities that allow her to fight with remarkable precision, and to quickly survey a crime scene. There... (more)
Cryptonomicon (1998)
Highly Rated!
Neal Stephenson
This "cult" novel of mathematics, computer science, espionage and warfare follows a mathematician through World War II and his grandson through the creation of a (less than ordinary) silicon valley start-up company.... (more)
Cube (1997)
Vincenzo Natali (Director)
This [film] concerns the attempt of six individuals to escape from a vast network of interlocking cubes, each room, and each wall, floor and ceiling identical. The rooms vary in colour. Some are harmless;... (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 Curve of the Snowflake (1956)
William Grey Walter
A beautiful and brilliant woman organizes a team of scientists (and a mathematician) who together make fusion energy efficient and invent a flying submarine...and perhaps a time-machine as well. When... (more)
Cyberchase (2002)
Highly Rated!
Educational Broadcasting Corporation
Three kids go inside "cyberspace" to help the maternal Mother Board fight the evil Hacker. Each episode, in addition to learning about computers, the kids have to develop their mathematical skills to... (more)
The 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)
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)
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 Dark Side of the Sun (1976)
Terry Pratchett
This humorous science fiction novel tells the tale of Dom Salabos, who believes he is destined to become "Chairman of the Board of Widdershins and heir to riches untold", but his allies familiar with p-math... (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)
Dear Abbey (2003)
Terry Bisson
This novel, which has not received many good reviews and appears only to have been published in Britain, involves a math professor who is a terrorist for environmentalist causes. (That the author chose... (more)
Death Qualified: A Mystery of Chaos (1992)
Kate Willhelm
The book only becomes science fiction towards the end. For most of it, it follows the format of a mystery in which there are several murders (which remain mysterious to the reader until near to the end)... (more)
Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World (1666)
Margaret Cavendish
Although there is only a short discussion of mathematics, I had to include it because it is just too interesting that this is not only one of the oldest science-fiction stories but moreover the fact 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)
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)
Dichronauts (2017)
Greg Egan
The protagonist(s) in this story are symbiotic creatures who can only see in all directions when they work together because the laws of physics in their world have strange implications for the way that... (more)
The Difference Engine (1991)
William Gibson / Bruce Sterling
Two of the innovators of the cyberpunk novel -- famous for showing how messed up the future will be because of technology -- turn everything around and show us instead how great the past would have been... (more)
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams is best known for his wacky Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. But his two Dirk Gently novels, while maintaining Adams' characteristic high wackiness, also carry ... (more)
The Discrete Charm of the Turing Machine (2017)
Greg Egan
This story is funnier and less mathematical than most of Greg Egan's writing. It concerns the spontaneous evolution of artificial intelligence within the global computer network. But, rather than destroying... (more)
Dispel Illusion (2019)
Mark Lawrence
This third book in the "Impossible Times" series continues telling the story of math prodigy Nick Hayes and the bizarre time loop he experiences/causes. Many of the chapters in this book take place in... (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. . In brief, it is a gem of... (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)
Doctor Who (Episode: Logopolis) (1981)
Christopher Bidmead
This episode of the popular BBC show "Doctor Who" (most famously the last episode featuring the fourth Doctor as played by Tom Baker) involves a city of whispering mathematicians whose computations keep... (more)
Doctor Who: The Algebra of Ice (2004)
Lloyd Rose (pseudonym of Sarah Tonyn)
Lloyd Rose (pen name for Sarah Tonyn) has a “Doctor Who” book called “The Algebra of Ice”. It describes the attempted invasion of our universe by mathematical beings from another dimension. These... (more)
Doing our Babbage (1992)
Ira Slobodien
The mind of 19th century mathematician Charles Babbage is brought back to life in electronic/mechanical form, becomes involved in a kinky "love rectangle" with the three scientists responsible (two women... (more)
Dragon's Egg (1980)
Robert L. Forward
[In this science fiction novel], the crew of the first spaceship to ever visit a neutron star discover that the star is inhabited by a race - the Cheela - whose metabolism is based on nuclear reactions... (more)
The Dreams in the Witch-House (1933)
H.P. Lovecraft
In this story, Walter Gilman, a mathematics graduate student at Miskatonic University in Arkham, Mass, rents a room in the famed haunted "Witch House" of Keziah Mason, a witch who legend says escaped... (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)
Drop (2008)
Lisa Papademitriou
A mathematically talented high school student uses what appears to be psychic powers to beat the casinos in this novel for young adults. However, with the help of a math professor she begins to realize... (more)
Drunkard's Walk (1960)
Frederik Pohl
A number theorist is suffering from frequent and inexplicable suicide attempts, the latest victim of a small epidemic among academia. In between lectures on Pascal's triangle and the binomial theorem... (more)
Dude, can you count? (2010)
Christian Constanda
Utilizing the entertaining contrivance of an extraterrestrial who visits human math conferences to evaluate our intelligence, Constanda tells us what he thinks is wrong with math education today. Following... (more)
Eifelheim (2006)
Highly Rated!
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)
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)
The End of Mr. Y (2006)
Scarlett Thomas
After her thesis advisor disappears, a graduate students studying "thought experiments" in science and in fiction discovers a copy of the rare (and supposedly cursed) book "The End of Mr. Y". Following... (more)
Eon (1985)
Greg Bear
Its been quite a while since I read this, but some info is better than none! Its rather like "Rama" - a big asteroid appears over the earth in the near future. It was obviously made to be inhabited... (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 Eternal Flame [Orthogonal Book Two] (2012)
Greg Egan
This second novel in Egan's "Orthogonal Trilogy" continues to follow the scientific and mathematical discoveries of creatures on a space ship hoping to find a way to save their home world. That plot and... (more)
The Eternal Wanderer (1936)
Nathan Schachner
A magnificently pulpy story of one man, Cliff Haven’s, struggle against the tyranny of a Martian who enslaves the inner planets of the solar system. As a punishment, Cliff is sentenced to become “the... (more)
The Ethical Equations (1945)
Murray Leinster
Mathematics is invoked several times to formalize `what goes round, comes around' as if it were a law of nature. 100% hokey. The only thing worse than the bad math is the bad science. ... (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 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!
Naum Ya. Vilenkin
The 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, the narrator... (more)
Eye of the Beholder (2005)
Highly Rated!
Alex Kasman
Shortly after a stunning success in her research, personal tragedy forces a math professor to change careers and begin work at the NSA where her work on cryptography involves some difficult ethical decisions.... (more)
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)
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)
The Fairy Chessmen (1951)
Henry Kuttner
A mathematician whose research involves a type of chess played with variable rules ("fairy chess") is the only one able to solve an "equation from the future" in which the constants are treated as variables... (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)
Fatous Staub (1991)
Christian Mähr
This surrealistic science fiction novel about parallel worlds, computers, and the mathematics of Pierre Fatou (who laid the foundations for the theory of fractals) has appeared only in German. Since I... (more)
The Feeling of Power (1957)
Highly Rated!
Isaac Asimov
An advanced society rediscovers the joys of multipying numbers BY HAND, a forgotten art. It's a gem. The author probably did not realize how quickly the premise of this story (people so dependent... (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)
Fermat's Lost Theorem (1994)
Jerry Oltion
This is a neat little story which plays on the fancy that one has found a very simple proof for Fermat's last theorem...if only one can write it down before the epiphany passes. A young mathematician... (more)
The Fermata (1994)
Nicholson Baker
This book is certainly more about sex than it is about mathematics. However, I find the one mathematical passage in it so hilarious that I have to include it here. The premise of the book is that the... (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)
Fifty Million Monkeys (1943)
Raymond F. Jones
The story is set sometime around 12,000 AD. The use of interstellar rockets over 15 years creates a "polarization of space" which leads to a "Pioneer anomaly"-like deviations in flight paths of spacecraft.... (more)
Fillet of Man (1995)
Eliot Fintushel
A first contact short short. Prime numbers are the way humans and the aliens recognize each other. And the alien spaceship "looked like a topologist's diagram of an exploded torus". Published in ASIMOV'S (Sept 95) pp112-115. (more)
Finity (1999)
John Barnes
A madcap science fiction adventure involving much bouncing between alternate realities, with vague references to quantum physics and mathematics. The narrator is an astronomer who has developed a mathematical... (more)
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884)
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)
The Flight of the Dragonfly (aka Rocheworld) (1984)
Robert L. Forward
A crew of humans travel to a distant planet to meet the intelligent lifeform we have discovered there. They turn out to be a race largely interested in mathematical problems (sounds very reasonable... (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)
Forbidden Knowledge (1987)
Kathryn Cramer
Mathematical statements can sound pretty strange, practically humorous, when you don't know the technical definitions of the terms. This somewhat frightening story has such a statement as its punchline. Specifically, it all builds up to a quote from Irving Kaplansky's (more)
Foundation (1951)
Isaac Asimov
In this book and its prequels/sequels, we see humanity guided by the work of fictional "mathematician, Hari Seldon, who works out the rules of psychohistory and makes a secret chart that the humankind... (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 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 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)
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)
Fractal Mode (1992)
Piers Anthony
Here, Anthony's usual blend of fantasy and science fiction takes us to an alternate universe where the geometry of worlds themselves take on the form of the Mandelbrot set. Unfortunately, he spends a... (more)
The Fringe (Episode: The Equation) (2008)
J.R. Orci (Screenplay) / David H. Goodman (Screenplay)
The ``Fringe Team'' (an FBI agent, a mad scientist and his son) investigate a series of kidnappings in which the victim is hypnotized with red and green lights. In each case, the victim was about to... (more)
Funes el Memorioso [Funes, His Memory] (1942)
Jorge Luis Borges
Borges’ short story piece, “Funes, His Memory’ (or in other translations, “Funes, The Memorious”) discusses the phenomenal memory of an acquaintance, Ireneo Funes. Funes, at age nineteen,... (more)
Futurama (TV Series) (1999)
David S. Cohen (David X. Cohen) / Ken Keeler / Jeff Westbrook
Another Matt Groening cartoon TV show (like the Simpsons) that includes many mathematical "in jokes". The website includes discussion of these jokes and the mathematical... (more)
The Future Engine (1995)
Byron Tetrick
Charles Babbage's son calls on Sherlock Holmes to investigate the theft of the Analytic Engine from its warehouse. The son gives a description of its importance to mathematical calculations. But it's his mention of the role of the binomial theorem in its working that arouses Holmes's interest. Published in Mike Resnick and M H Greenberg (eds) SHERLOCK HOLMES IN ORBIT. (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)
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)
Galactic Pot-Healer (1969)
Philip K. Dick
Joe Fernwright, mender of broken pottery in some future Earth society, but bored out of his mind after months without any pots to fix, accepts a mysterious invitation to a far planet where... (more)
Galactic Rapture (2000)
Tom Flynn
On a future Earth whose major export to other planets is the Christian religion, mathematician Fram Galbior is a hero for his formula which allows the prediction of the appearance of ``Tuezi''. These... (more)
Gallactic Alliance - Translight! (2009)
Doug Farren
A human scientist invents a new branch of mathematics, "continuum calculus", as the basis for a stardrive. At one point, he compares his mathematical constructions with those of an alien species who have... (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 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 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)
Gödel geht [Gödel's Exit] (1991)
Andreas Findig
Kurt Gödel's reflection steps out of the mirror and joins him at his table in a cafe. (That may seem weird, but the author assures us that such fantastical things are always happening in Vienna.) Since... (more)
Gödel Incomplete (2013)
Martha Goddard (Writer and Director)
A 21st century physicist repeatedly travels back in time for short visits to the 20th century as a result of her experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. For completely unexplained reasons, she always... (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)
Genghis Khan and 888 (2005)
Jason Earls
As one might guess from the title of the literary journal in which it was published ("Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens #4"), this story is a bit strange. According to the author, it is absurdist... (more)
Georgia on My Mind (1995)
Charles Sheffield
The story has to do with Babbage's Analytical Engine and a remote region of Antarctica (the "Georgia" of the title). The mathematics bit, aside from Babbage, consists of a nonlinear optimization... (more)
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)
Ghost Days (2013)
Ken Liu
This short story begins with a very short computer program that computes the Fibonacci numbers which a young student is learning in school. The teacher is one of the human crew of a space ship and the... (more)
The Ghost from the Grand Banks (1990)
Arthur C. Clarke
The topics change from the Titanic to a giant octopus but a central one is the Mandelbrot set. We are introduced to mathematician-cum-computer wizard Edith Craig who invents software to fix the Y2K... (more)
The Gimatria of Pi (2004)
Lavie Tidhar
More ``numerology'' than mathematics, this short story is based on the idea that the decimal expansion of π has predictive value. For example, it is portrayed as predicting the assassination of Yitzhak... (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)
Glory (2007)
Greg Egan
The story talks about a xenomathematician's quest to understand hieroglyphic tablets on an alien planet containing the mathematical knowledge of an extinct civilization. The extinct aliens had apparently... (more)
The God Patent (2009)
Ransom Stephens
After his life falls apart, an engineer tries to revive a collaboration with the fundamentalist Christian with whom he once wrote two patents based on the Bible. While he viewed these patents for what... (more)
The God Wave (2016)
Patrick Hemstreet
A neuroscientist and mathematician team up to boost the intellectual power of some experimental subjects by altering their brain waves in this techno-thriller. Math is frequently mentioned throughout... (more)
The Gold at Starbow's End (aka Starburst / aka Alpha Aleph) (1972)
Frederik Pohl
A short story based on an interesting premise that at some point in the (near) future, mankind will stop making interesting, fundamental discoveries because we have too much knowledge and too much apparatus... (more)
Gomez (1954)
Cyril M. Kornbluth
this story is about a physics prodigy, but a mathematical equation appears in it -- the first time I read story the equation didn't make any sense to me, but eventually I realized that it was a... (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)
The Grand Wheel (1977)
Barrington J. Bayley
This is primarily space opera, but with a mathematical element in the fictional discovery of randomatics: a science which shows that the Gambler's Fallacy is true under certain conditions, enabling random... (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)
Ground Zero Man (The Peace Machine) (1971)
Bob Shaw
A self-described `unimportant mathematician' who works on guidance systems for a British weapons manufacturer discovers, just by playing around with the formulas, a way to cause the explosion of every... (more)
Habitus (1998)
James Flint
There is no doubt that this novel is a work of mathematical fiction, but I'm not sure how to describe it. I think the best word for it may be "uneven". It does some great things, both presenting some... (more)
Hamisch in Avalon (1995)
Eliot Fintushel
This story marks the return of the Yiddishe mystic Izzy and his daughter in-law (now a math professor) Hamisch previously encountered in Izzy at the Lucky Three. There isn't as much math in this story,... (more)
The Heart on the Other Side (1962)
George Gamow
A math professor and his beloved girlfriend try to imagine how they could win the approval of her father for their marriage. She laments that he could only do so by being helpful in her father's profession,... (more)
Heavy Weather (1994)
Bruce Sterling
Tornado weather in Texas gets worse over the coming decades, and a team headed by a supergenius mathematician confronts the ultimate tornado. Includes explicit summaries of his mathematical prowess (surprisingly, not chaos theory) and of his complete social incompetence (not a surprise, I suppose). (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)
The Hidden Girl (2017)
Ken Liu
The daughter of a general during the Tang Dynasty is kidnapped by an assassin who can travel into higher dimensions. She is trained to also be an assassin, but cleverly plans her own escape. Among... (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)
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)
His Master's Voice (1968)
Stanislaw Lem
In this book, we follow the investigations of a team of scientists and mathematicians trying to figure out the meaning of an apparent "message" being sent through space. The novel is written with "tongue... (more)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
Douglas Adams
Everyone ought to read this trilogy of four (or is it five now?) books that brilliantly combine science fiction with the drollest of British humor. Despite my high regard for it, I've not added it to... (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 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)
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010)
Charles Yu
Fans of mathematical fiction are likely to love the self-referential nature of this novel about a time-machine repairman whose future self travels back in time to give him a novel about a time-machine... (more)
The Humans: A Novel (2013)
Matt Haig
After Cambridge mathematician Andrew Martin proves the Riemann Hypothesis, he is replaced by an alien whose job it is to prevent news of the discovery from spreading as it is their belief that humans are... (more)
The Hyland Resolution (2020)
Justin Tarquin
Charles Hyland is the sort of math professor who can be totally distracted by a mathematical question while he and several academic colleagues are under attack by an enemy army on the moon. (Specifically,... (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)
I Sin Every Number (2007)
Jason Earls
This is another work of experimental fiction from Jason Earls that combines some real computational number theory, some mathematical terminology used within nonsense for poetic effect, and a science fiction... (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)
The Image in the Mirror (1933)
Dorothy Leigh Sayers
Lord Peter Wimsey, while staying at an inn, finds a stranger is completely rapt in reading and rereading from a book of Wimsey's. It turns out to be H G Wells' story of a man inverted via the fourth... (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)
Imaginary Numbers : An Anthology of Marvelous Mathematical Stories, Diversions, Poems, and Musings (1999)
Highly Rated!
William Frucht (editor)
Although it is nice to see a more recent collection of mathematical stories (published in 1999), I'm afraid that many of these works seem only tenuously connected to mathematics at best. Stories about... (more)
Immune Dreams (1978)
Ian Watson
A creepy but interesting story that combines the genetics of cancer, the neurology of dreaming, immunology, and the mathematics of catastrophe theory (a precursor of what we now call "chaos theory"). ... (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 Alien Flesh (1978)
Gregory Benford
A human scientist discovers that the Drongheda, a whale-like alien species, do sophisticated mathematics that he can access by climbing inside an orifice and implanting electrodes inside their bodies.... (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 The Country of the Blind (1990)
Michael Flynn
Sarah Beaumont escaped from the modern American ghetto to become a successful journalist, programmer and real estate investor. However, while investigating an idea for developing her latest real estate... (more)
In the Courts of the Sun (2009)
Brian D'Amato
A modern descendant of the Mayans and his former mentor (a game theorist) realize that the famous Mayan prediction that the world will end in the year 2012 is based on some seemingly reasonable math, and... (more)
In the River (2006)
Justin Stanchfield
A female mathematics professor undergoes a surgical procedure to enable her to live and communicate with aquatic aliens. Her goal is to learn to understand their mathematics well enough to reproduce their... (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)
Incident on Simpac III: A Scientific Novel (2018)
Doug Brugge
In this science fiction novel, human colonization of extra-solar planets is guided by "synthesis", mathematical algorithms that make determinations about the best course of action in the future based on... (more)
The Indefatigable Frog (1953)
Philip K. Dick
A parody of science utilizing the old "Zeno's Paradox". Originally appeared in Fantastic Story Magazine (July 1953) and republished recently in The Ascent of Wonder. A funny story where annoyingly... (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 Worlds of H.G. Wells (Episode: The Truth about Pyecraft) (2001)
Chris Harrald (Script) / Clive Exton (Script) / Herbert George Wells (story)
Please correct me if I'm mistaken here, but it seems that the 2001 TV miniseries The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells took the story ``The Truth about Pyecraft'', which has no math in it, and made the main... (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)
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)
Inflexible Logic (1940)
Russell Maloney
There is a famous example of probability which (in one of its many forms) states that six chimpanzees randomly typing at six typewriters would eventually reproduce all of the books in the British museum.... (more)
Inherit the Stars (1977)
James P. Hogan
50,000 old human remains are found on the moon, along with lots of documentation. The entry point to deciphering the totally unknown language is mathematical tables and formulae." (more)
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)
Instantiation (2019)
Greg Egan
In this sequel to 3-adica, the conscious video game characters plan an escape that feels like a cross between Mission Impossible and Inception, but with the addition of famous mathematicians sitting around... (more)
Into Darkness (1992)
Greg Egan
Creepy story about a man who volunteers to rescue people from a worm-hole that randomly appears in cities, killing anyone who is not able to make it to the center of the spacetime-distortion before it disappears.... (more)
Into the Comet (1960)
Arthur C. Clarke
When a computer malfunction prevents the crew of a spaceship from being able to determine a trajectory back to Earth, they are forced to resort to using an abacus to aid in the computation. [Note that... (more)
The 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 Investigation (1959)
Highly Rated!
Stanislaw Lem
In investigating a bizarre case of missing -- and apparently resurrected bodies -- an investigator at Scotland Yard consults mystics, philosophers, and (most significantly to the book as well as to this... (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)
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)
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)
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 Janus Equation (1980)
Steven G. Spruill
In an alternate reality where John Kennedy survived the assassination attempt and replaced all national governments with five all-powerful corporations, an award-winning mathematician tries to invent a... (more)
John Jones's Dollar (1915)
Harry Stephen Keeler
The main mathematical content of this science fiction story is an illustration of the potential of exponential growth in the form of considering how a single dollar invested in a bank would grow in value... (more)
Jurassic Park (1990)
Michael Crichton
Although there is really not much mathematics in this SF thriller at all, the mathematician (played in the film by Jeff Goldbloom) has an important role as the only person smart enough to recognize... (more)
Ker-Plop (1979)
Ted Reynolds
Two branches of humanity meet after 300,000 years without contact. At one point, comparison is made between their different modes of existence via explicit... (more)
Killing Time (2000)
Frank Tallis
In this noir thriller, a British math grad student discovers antique lab equipment which allows him to see into the past and winds up murdering his girlfriend. Sex (explicitly described) and interpersonal... (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)
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)
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 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 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 Last Magician (1952)
Bruce Elliott
Science-fiction story about a magician performing for aliens using a Klein bottle as a prop. (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)
The Last Theorem (2008)
Arthur C. Clarke / Frederik Pohl
Ranjit Subramanian, the protagonist in this science fiction novel, is a young Sri Lankan man who (re)discovers a short and elementary proof of Fermat's Last Theorem while enduring torture during an unjust... (more)
The Law (1947)
Robert M. Coates
In this story, the "law of averages" ceases to apply (so that, for instance, everyone in Manhattan decides to drive across the Triborough Bridge on the same evening). As a result, it is necessary for... (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)
life.exe (2006)
Jason Rogers
This work of fiction is not strictly narrative. It is hard to say what is happening since the characters live in the world of "the matrix". Not like the Wachowski Bros.'s epic trilogy of films (though... (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)
Limited Wish (2019)
Mark Lawrence
In this sequel to One Word Kill, math prodigy Nick Hayes develops the theory of time travel that his future self used to go back in time to meet himself in the first book. The idea, which sounds neat... (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)
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)
The Loom of God: Mathematical Tapestries at the Edge of Time (1997)
Clifford Pickover
A group of time travelers journey back to the time of Pythagoras in an effort to see the origins of mystical mathematics. The journey continues as they explore numerous links between mathematics, nature and mysticism. Concepts featured: pentagonal numbers, perfect numbers, oblong numbers, the golden ratio, and fractals. Religious implications are also discussed. (more)
Luck be a Lady (2009)
Dean Wesley Smith
A seriously bizarre story about how Laverne, the Goddess of Luck, has gone missing, and superheroes Poker Boy, Front Desk Lady, and Screamer go looking for her, only to discover that the Bookkeeper... (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)
The Lure (2007)
Bill Napier
Irish mathematician Tom Petrie is called in as an expert to analyze a mysterious stream of particles that appears to be a message from aliens. The math never gets very deep. Petrie is supposed to be... (more)
Machines Like Me (2019)
Ian McEwan
There are many ways to describe this book without mentioning mathematics: It is a romance between Charlie (a slacker who dabbles in day-trading) and Miranda (the law student who lives in the apartment... (more)
Macroscope (1969)
Piers Anthony
A "hard SF" novel by Piers Anthony, who usually writes fantasy, in which mathematics forms a basis of communication between humans and intelligent aliens. In addition, the topological game "sprouts" is... (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)
Manifold: Time (2000)
Stephen Baxter
After hearing a (rather bogus sounding) mathematical proof that civilization is headed for disaster, mathematician Cornelius Taine "sets in motion" this unusual science fiction novel that takes us through... (more)
The Martian (2014)
Andy Weir
An astronaut is stranded alone on Mars and must figure out how to survive until he can be rescued. My wife and I both loved this "hard SF" novel (soon to be a movie). But, we disagreed about whether... (more)
The Masters (1963)
Ursula K. Le Guin
This short story, which takes place in a world where society is medieval and the sun is seen less than once per year, focuses on the mathematical advances brought about by the primary protagonist, Ganil.... (more)
Mathematica (1936)
John Russell Fearn
Using a strange metal which gives them the power to change reality with their thoughts, two humans either summon or create an alien who explains to them that reality is mathematics. Together, they seek... (more)
Mathematica Plus (1936)
John Russell Fearn
In this sequel to Mathematica, the humans, now knowing that everything is mathematics and having been made immortal by the ultimate mathematician, encounter a race of beings somewhere between material... (more)
Mathematicians in Love (2006)
Rudy Rucker
Together, two math grad students who are both in love with the same girl prove a theorem which characterizes all dynamical systems (from the stock market to the motion of particles) in terms of objects... (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)
Mathenauts: Tales of Mathematical Wonder (1987)
Highly Rated!
Rudy Rucker (editor)
This collection contains a wonderful assortment of mathematically oriented SF written between 1962 (when Mathematical Magpie appeared) and 1987 when this volume was published. Editor Rudy Rucker is... (more)
A Matter of Mathematics (1999)
Brian Wilson Aldiss
A space/time shortcut is found connecting the earth to the moon. Its use provokes an alien response, consisting of a device encoding within it some very strange mathematics. (For those interested, the title story of the Aldiss collection was the original inspiration for Kubrick/Spielberg's AI.) Also published as "The Apollo Asteroid". In Crowther and Greenberg (eds) "Moon Shots". (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)
The Maxwell Equations (1969)
Highly Rated!
Anatoly Dnieprov
The math in this story seems very real, though the specifics of it are inconsequential to the plot. A mathematical physicist in an isolated city needs help finding a solution to a linearized version... (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)
Mersenne's Mistake (2008)
Jason Earls
This is a nice piece of mathematical fiction in which the mathematician/monk Marin Mersenne encounters a demon with amazing mathematical skills. Like the other stories by Earls, this seems to be designed to showcase the interesting numbers which he has found using computer algebra tools. (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)
Methuselah's Children (1958)
Robert A. Heinlein
The supporting character of "Slipstick" Libby in this classic science fiction novel is a mathematician, or at least mathematically inclined. This has little to do with the novel's main plot, which concerns... (more)
Micromegas (1752)
Highly Rated!
François Marie Arouet de Voltaire
"Micromegas" is a Voltaire short story, obviously inspired by Swift's Gulliver's Travels. The title character comes from a planet orbiting Sirius, and stands 120,000 feet tall. Before spelling out Micromegas'... (more)
The Midnighters (Series) (2004)
Highly Rated!
Scott Westerfield
Teenagers discover an extra hour to the day during which they can do things while everyone else is frozen. Unfortunately, they also have to worry about the Darklings! One of the teens, Dess, is interested... (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)
Mimsy Were the Borogoves (1943)
Highly Rated!
Lewis Padgett (aka Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore)
Far in the future, humans have not only improved their digestive tracts (eliminating the appendix and shortening their large intestine) and invented a time machine, but they have also invented educational toys... (more)
Mirror Image (1972)
Isaac Asimov
A robot volunteers the aid of his human, Earthling friend to settle a dispute between a pair of feuding "spacer" mathematicians. It seems that an old mathematician (over 270 years old in fact) and a... (more)
Misfit (1939)
Robert A. Heinlein
A crew of misfits ships out to the asteroid belt. One member turns out to be a misfit among the misfits: he's a mathematical prodigy. His skills prove to be very valuable. reprinted in THE PAST... (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)
Monday Begins on Saturday (1966)
Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
In this parody of the activity at Soviet research thinktanks, mathematics underlies the "science" of magic. Math is rarely discussed in depth and a knowledge of Russian fairy tales helps the reader to... (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)
Monster (2005)
Alex Kasman
A story about group theory, plagiarism, the untapped potential of a collaboration between mathematics and marketing, the bleak financial future of academia, and the Monster. This story talks about... (more)
Monster's Proof (2009)
Richard Lewis
With parents and a younger brother who are all "mathematical geniuses", Livey Ell (who is in danger of getting kicked out of cheerleading unless she improves her algebra grades) is a bit too normal. Things... (more)
Moriarty by Modem (1995)
Jack Nimersheim
A cyberversion of Sherlock Holmes is created to track down an accidently released cyberversion of Moriarty. The big clue involves both the binomial theorem and binomial variables. Published in... (more)
Mother's Milk (2005)
Highly Rated!
Andrew Thomas Breslin
Lawyer Cindy Kichlklug takes on the dairy industry (with the aid of a quirky mathematician) in this witty SF satire. The "conspiracy theory" in the book is well put together. It tightly combines so... (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)
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)
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)
Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley (2016)
Danyl McLauchlan
A semi-serious Lovecraftian novel set in New Zealand's Te Aro suburb featuring some mystical mathematicians (and questions of Platonism) in a central role. This sequel to the Danyl McLauchlan's "Unspeakable... (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)
Nanunculus (1997)
Ian Watson
A mathematician wishes to commit suicide, but is pestered by an automated visitor from the future programmed to make certain that the mathematician discovers the key to time travel before he does. Appears in the collection The Great Escape and first published in Interzone January 1997. (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)
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)
The Nature of Smoke (1996)
Anne Harris
Science fiction thriller combining genetic engineering and chaos theory. The math is not presented in a way that conveys any real meaning to the reader, but perhaps some feeling for the beauty of math... (more)
Neverness (1988)
Highly Rated!
David Zindell
"[In this book], the Order of Pilots tries to tackle the Continuum Hypothesis. It's a long, strange, complex story, but it seems pretty certain that the author had some mathematical training. He tries... (more)
A New Golden Age (1981)
Rudy Rucker
In this story, and in our world as well, mathematicians lament the fact that legislators cannot sufficiently appreciate mathematics and that this adversely affects the funding of their science. To address this... (more)
The New Reality (1950)
Charles Leonard Harness
The theme of this story concerns the idea that observation determines reality, and takes it to a more profound level than is usual in quantum mechanics. Along the way, the history of π and of... (more)
Newton's Gift (1979)
Paul J. Nahin
Time traveller Wallace John Steinhope believes that he will be able to help his hero, Isaac Newton, avoid the tedium of computation by bringing him an electronic calculator that can do simple arithmetic.... (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)
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)
The Nine Billion Names of God (1953)
Arthur C. Clarke
As much about computers as it is about mathematics, we join two programmers hired by a Buddhist sect seeking to find all true names of God by exhausting a combinatorial library of possibilities. Appears... (more)
Ninefox Gambit (2016)
Highly Rated!
Yoon Ha Lee
In a desperate attempt to retake the Fortress of Needles from the heretics who have taken it over, the mathematically talented Kel captain named Cheris is promoted to the rank of general and mentally... (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 Non-Statistical Man (1956)
Raymond F. Jones
In this short story, insurance adjuster Charles Bascomb comes up against his greatest enemy: intuition. The story presents mathematics (especially statistics and logic) as one way man can deal with reality.... (more)
Normed Trek (2014)
Harun Šiljak
This short story is a parody that combines elements of Star Trek with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland using concepts and terminology from mathematics (especially analysis). Limit, the final frontier.... (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)
Null Set (2019)
S.L. Huang
Cas Russell, the math-genius mercenary, returns in the sequel to Zero Sum Game. As before, she can perform calculations quickly and accurately enough to determine exactly how she needs to swing, kick,... (more)
Null-P (1951)
William Tenn
The story extrapolates to great lengths (including a complete overthrow of humanity by smartly evolved canines) a simple principle: what might happen if we found a perfectly average man who had quantitative... (more)
Nullstellen (1999)
Dietmar Dath
Two scientists develop a mathematical method of literary analysis based on the use of an "author function". The zeroes of this function (called Nullstellen in German, as in Hilbert's famous (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)
Numbercruncher (2013)
Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
A recently deceased mathematician "cracks the recirculation algorithm" and thus is able to control his own reincarnation in the hope of being able to spend more time with the woman he loves. It ends up... (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)
Nymphomation (2000)
Highly Rated!
Jeff Noon
A math professor's theory of ``nymphomation'' (described in the book as a way for numbers to mate) is used to develop a lottery game called "Domino Bones" that entirely takes over the city of Manchester,... (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)
Old Faithful (1934)
Raymond Z. Gallun
An extended discussion of the use of arithmetic in setting up a two-way communication code comprises the mathematical content of this forgotten classic SF short story. Gallun (rhymes with balloon)... (more)
On Another Plane (2020)
Colin Adams
A woman with flowing white hair and flowing white robes sits next to a mathematician on a plane and very casually helps him to prove the Riemann Hypothesis. ‘‘I’m not much for knowing what’s... (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 (1995)
George Alec Effinger
Two interstellar searchers for alien life, after endless failures, must confront what went wrong in their understanding of Drake's equation, the famed formula that allegedly estimates the odds of interstellar... (more)
One Word Kill (2019)
Mark Lawrence
Nick Hayes, a math prodigy with leukemia in the 1980's, meets his future self in this first book of the "Impossible Times" trilogy from Amazon's publishing arm. The consistent time loop that this creates... (more)
Oracle (2000)
Highly Rated!
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)
The Outer Limits (Episode: Behold, Eck!) (1964)
John Mantley (screenplay) / William R. Cox (story)
In this episode of the classic science fiction series Outer Limits, a 2-dimensional being trapped in our world is aided by Dr. Stone, an engineer described as being an expert in "optical geometry" and... (more)
The Outside (2019)
Ada Hoffman
The way this science fiction novel conflates technology and religion is more interesting than anything it does with mathematics. The "gods" in the book are advanced artificial intelligences and "angels"... (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)
The Pacifist (1966)
Arthur C. Clarke
Clarke, one of the all-time biggest names in serious science fiction, took time to write a series of humorous science fiction tall tales. The stories are narrated by one Harry ... (more)
Palimpsest (2007)
Howard V. Hendrix
A very short story with strong shades of Clarke's "Nine billion Names of God" and "Genesis", coupled with the general idea that our reality is a Turing machine in danger of being subverted by the Great... (more)
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)
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)
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)
The Perfect Spiral (2001)
Jason Hornsby
This first novel by controversial young author Jason Hornsby was written when he was 18 years old. It combines elements of genres in an avant garde sort of way, and focuses on the lives of teenagers in... (more)
Permafrost (2019)
Alastair Reynolds
The daughter of the mathematician whose research led to a practical method for time-travel is sent back in time to save the world in this creative science fiction novella. Although I describe the work... (more)
Perry Rhodan 2638: Zielpunkt Morpheus-System (2012)
Marc A. Herren
The long-running German science fiction series Perry Rhodan recently ran a contest whose winner, a certain Martin Felten, was included in issue number 2638 as a space actuary and inventor of a five-dimensional... (more)
The Phantom of Kansas (1976)
John Varley
A sublunar meteorological artist wakens from her memory recording to learn that a serial killer has been murdering her repeatedly, and is presumably still... (more)
Phase IV (1974)
Mayo Simon (writer) / Saul Bass (director)
A mathematician who `applied game theory to the language of killer whales' is brought in to help fight an attack by intelligent ants. (more)
Pi (1998)
Highly Rated!
Darren Aronofsky (director)
A mathematician discovers a new relationship between chaos theory and the number Pi which makes him a target of a dangerous religious sect and a greedy investor. The references to mathematics and its... (more)
Pi in the Sky (1983)
Rudy Rucker
The story is about a family which finds an alien artifact on a beach while on vacation: a smooth cone with patterns of stripes on its surface and which produces sound in the same pattern. It turns out... (more)
The Pi Man (1959)
Alfred Bester
I found this work in an anthology of Alfred Bester short stories "The Dark Side of the Earth". It is an ironic story of a man that calls himself the Pi Man (irrational) that tries to set a pattern... (more)
The Pikestaffe Case (1924)
Algernon Blackwood
This quite unsatisfying yarn hangs its hat on the old idea of finding a way into a mirror to discover a new reality. The author waves his hands quite a bit to build an aura of mystery (by appealing... (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)
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)
The Plattner Story (1896)
Herbert George Wells
Gottfrieb Plattner disappears after an explosion for nine days. Upon return, he recounts a strange tale of a parallel world. More mathematically interesting, he discovers that he is now left-handed,... (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)
Post-Bombum [aka Post-Boomboom] (1967)
Alberto Vanasco
Argentinian author and math professor Alberto Vanasco wrote this short story about post-apocalyptic survivors trying to record keys to civilization, and failing miserably. (Thanks to Vijay Fafat for bringing... (more)
The Pre-Persons (1974)
Highly Rated!
Philip K. Dick
His nastiest story, a deeply felt response to Roe vs Wade. Dick imagines a future where Congress has decided that abortion is legal until the soul enters the body, which is specified as ... (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)
Problem Child (1964)
Arthur Porges
By working ceaselessly on proving a new theorem, a successful math professor tries to avoid thinking about the fact that he has lost his wife who died in childbirth and about Paul, their "vegetable" of... (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)
The Pursuit of the Pankera: A Parallel Novel About Parallel Universes (2020)
Robert A. Heinlein
This alternative version of the much derided Heinlein novel The Number of the Beast was published in 2020 based on notes by the author who died back in 1988. Apparently, "Pursuit of Pankera" was actually... (more)
The Push of a Finger (1942)
Alfred Bester
Story set in 2909. A Prognostication Machine which can look into the future beyond 50 years (but no earlier) predicts the destruction of the entire universe in about 1000 years. Evidently, a new movement... (more)
Pyramids (2001)
Terry Pratchett
Thanks to Aaron Gullison for pointing out that in this Discworld novel, "the camels are all mathematicians, and think in math." For instance, The greatest mathematician alive on the Disc, and in fact... (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)
Quanto scommettiamo ("How much do you want to bet?") (1965)
Italo Calvino
The story is about two beings, living since the beginning of the universe (one of them, the protagonist of the book, is "old Qfwfq" - it's not a misprint -, a mysterious being that claims to have witnessed... (more)
Quarantine (1977)
Arthur C. Clarke
For safety's sake, all organic life on the planet Earth has been wiped out by automatic defenses. The investigator looking into this regrettable turn of affairs in an otherwise promising species discovers... (more)
Quaternia (2015)
Tom Petsinis
Ivan, the main character in Tom Petsinis' Quaternia, is a fictional teenager who spends a lot of his time and energy on playing video games. Ivan goes beyond merely devoting so much time to this hobby... (more)
The Ragged Astronauts (1987)
Bob Shaw
The novel is set in an alternate universe where two planets orbit each other in close proximity, with a common atmosphere. The civilization on one of the planets is shown to be similar to the western... (more)
Rama II (1989)
Arthur C. Clarke /Gentry Lee
This is the sequel to the novel Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. Short Summary: The huge cylindrical Rama spaceship has returned 70 years after it arrived near Earth for the first time.... (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)
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)
Reading by Numbers (2009)
Highly Rated!
Aidan Doyle
Elementary number theory and some superstitious numerology underlie this story, which appeared in the November 11, 2009 issue of the online Fantasy Magazine (though I would never describe this story as... (more)
Red Zen (2007)
Jason Earls
A man travels to another planet in an attemp to resolve a bizarre memory problem in this absurdist science fiction novel. As in his other works, Earls includes tidbits of computational number theory.... (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)
Report from the Ambassador to Cida-2 (2008)
Clifton Cunningham
The human selected to communicate with the aquatic aliens of Cida-2 is surprised to learn that their number system differs from our own. In particular, although our communication with the extra-terrestrials... (more)
Resistance is Futile (2015)
Jenny T. Colgan
This novel begins as a familiar farce in which mathematicians are gathered by the government to decipher a message from space. However, in this case, the story soon turns into a romance between a human... (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)
Return from the Stars (1961)
Stanislaw Lem
This book contains some of the most realistic sounding fictional mathematics I have ever read, as well as some very high praise for mathematics (from a fictional character). In this book, an astronaut... (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)
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)
Risqueman (2009)
Mike Wood
A brilliant (and beautiful) French mathematician is distressed by governmental misuse of her algorithm which accurately predicts accidents and disasters that previously were only determined probabilistically.... (more)
A Rite of Spring (1977)
Highly Rated!
Fritz Leiber
Leiber has stretched out a very flimsy story line into a 50-page trivia-fest on the number seven. A genius of a mathematician yearns for his childhood ability to visualize and play with mathematics as... (more)
River of Gods (2006)
Ian McDonald
A science fiction novel about artificial intelligence, politics, cellular automata, climate change and alternate universes that takes place in India of 2047. Math plays only a very small role in this... (more)
The Rock (1996)
Robert Doherty
"Five people--including an Australian Air Force computer operator, a Mexican engineering professor, a New York housewife, a Colombian Special Forces officer, and an English mathematician--are invited to... (more)
The Rolling Stones (1952)
Robert A. Heinlein
The Stone family goes off on a working tour across the solar system. As a condition for going, the father insists the twins keep up with their higher mathematics studies, which gets referred to explicitly several times. The difference between arithmetic and geometric growth is commented on when their pet "flat cat" reproduces 8 at a time, and faster than expected. (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)
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)
The Secret Number (2000)
Highly Rated!
Igor Teper
In this very cute story, a mathematician who believes that there is an integer between 3 and 4 tries to convince his psychiatrist that he is not crazy. The idea is not very deep, but it is well handled... (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)
Self-Reference ENGINE (2007)
Toh EnJoe
As of 2015, the work of fiction which made physicist Toh EnJoe a famous author in Japan is finally available in English translation. The separate pieces are not quite short stories, and the whole is not... (more)
A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions (1991)
Kim Stanley Robinson
This work of speculative fiction is not a traditional work of fiction with a plot and characters, but reads more like an essay about the chaotic nature of reality which includes some alternative histories... (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)
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)
The Shiloh Project (1993)
David R. Beaucage
This is a Christian science fiction novel with mathematical undertones written by an author with a doctorate in mathematics. In it, a Jewish math teacher falsely accused of sexually abusing a student... (more)
Sidewise in Time (1934)
Murray Leinster
"The protagonist is a frustrated mathematician, whose genius (which Leinster makes some attempt to convey) is not recognized by his teachers and peers. So when reality goes... (more)
The Sigma Structure Symphony (2012)
Gregory Benford
This story about humans in the distant future communicating with alien intelligences contains a lot of familiar ideas and some interesting new ones. Ruth Angle is an employee at the SETI library on... (more)
Signal to Noise (1999)
Highly Rated!
Eric S. Nylund
The protagonist in this science fiction novel, Jack Potter, is a tenure track math professor in a future where San Francisco has sunk under the ocean, all non-academic employment in the United States... (more)
Silence Please (1954)
Arthur C. Clarke
In this "White Hart" story, Purvis tells about an experimental physicist who invents a highly successful antinoise generator. The Fourier analysis underpinning of antinoise is explicitly ... (more)
Silicon Muse (1984)
Hilbert Schenck
Schenck's other Analog story would provide a geometric means of analyzing this one, but that is not why it is listed here. The story is about a computer that can write fiction about a computer that can... (more)
The Simplest Equation (2014)
Nicky Drayden
Mariah is a Stanford University math major who has lost her interest in the subject of mathematics. She is initially annoyed when Kwalla takes the seat next to hers in class. Kwalla is an alien with... (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)
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)
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)
Skylark of Valeron (1934)
E. E. Doc Smith
At first I was completely confused while reading this novel, until I read it through my pulp-fiction-of-the-thirties lens. Then it became fun and hilarious. Scientists are unemotional and ruthless;... (more)
A Slight Miscalculation (1971)
Ben Bova
This is a story of a mathematician who found a way to predict earthquakes. He finds out that there will be a major earthquake in California (where he lives). After checking this prediction using CalTech's... (more)
Solar Lottery (1955)
Philip K. Dick
In the future, the "Minimax Game" runs society. New mind technologies are used to take randomization stategies to previously unsuspected heights, in order to get an edge in the Game. Explicit mentions... (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)
Somnium (1634)
Johannes Kepler
"Published posthumously, it is a short story about a dream of life on the moon. There is no mathematical content in the actual story, but Kepler included voluminous notes, plus ... (more)
Souls in the Great Machine (1999)
Sean McMullen
Souls in the Great Machine is apparently a post-ecological-apocalypse SF novel in which a powerful multiprocessing computer is built out of human beings manipulating abaci. Has anyone out there read... (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)
Sphere (1989)
Michael Crichton
In Sphere the team assembled to confront the unimaganible crisis is made up of specialists in specific fields, among these specialists there is a Mathematical prodigy who uses mathematical deductive... (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)
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 Square Root of Pythagoras (1999)
Paul Di Filippo/Rudy Rucker
Pythagoras has been granted the magical power of five numbers. Along the way he discusses his theorem, the five Platonic solids, and his general philosophy about numbers and the universe. But he... (more)
The Square Root of Summer (2016)
Harriet Reuter Hapgood
In this young adult novel, a mathematically inclined teenager who ignores the sad events she does not want to remember learns to deal with them by literally revisiting her past through wormholes. There... (more)
Stamping Butterflies (2004)
Jon Courtenay Grimwood
A "going back to change the timelines" SF story involving a reclusive rock star, a suspected terrorist being subjected to harsh tactics by US intelligence, and the young Chinese emperor who rules thousands... (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)
The Star Dummy (1952)
Anthony Boucher
I learned duodecimal (and the whole concept of number bases) from "The Star Dummy," by Boucher, in Conklin's Omnibus of Science Fiction. The teddybear-shaped six- fingered alien was trying to communicate with the koalas in the zoo until an open-minded human showed up and the two traded written numbers. Originally published in Fantastic in 1952. (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)
Highly Rated!
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)
Statistician's Day (1970)
James Blish
An aging novelist and Nobel Prize winner gives what he knows is his last interview. But rather than take questions, he has rather pointed ones of his own, based on his twenty years of statistical analyses... (more)
The Statistomat Pitch (1958)
Chandler Davis
This pulp science fiction story by "Chan Davis" features a discussion of the use of mathematics and a computer for the purposes of stock trading. As Vijay Fafat explains below in his post, while this... (more)
The Stochastic Man (1975)
Robert Silverberg
This is a tautly written story of political intrigue involving 3 central figures: a student of statistics, Lew Nichols, who invents the field of predictive stochastics, a seemingly clairvoyant and eccentric... (more)
Story of Your Life (1998)
Ted Chiang
What sort of mathematics would Vonnegut's Tralfamadorean's like to do? Or, alternatively, what sort of worldview would a sentient species have if their idea of simple mathematics was the calculus of... (more)
Strange Attractors (1990)
William Sleator
Time-travel story for young adolescents with a little bit of chaotic dynamical systems thrown in. The plot follows Max, a high school student with an interest in math and science, as he becomes involved... (more)
Strange Attractors (2013)
Charles Soule (author) / Greg Scott (Illustrator)
This is is graphic novel in which a mathematics student seeks the help of a seemingly insane genius who claims he has been using chaos theory to save the city of New York from disaster for decades. Heller... (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)
Summer Solstice (1985)
Charles Leonard Harness
I did enjoy reading this short story (nominated for a Nebula award in 1985) in which the famous Greek mathematician Eratosthenes determines the Earth's circumference and meets a shipwrecked alien, but... (more)
Summer Wars (2009)
Mamoru Hosoda (Director)
Kenji is a part-time computer programmer from a poor family who has never had a girlfriend. Aside from the fact that he was almost selected to represent Japan in the Mathematics Olympiad he considers... (more)
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)
Sushi Never Sleeps (2002)
Clifford Pickover
A man and his custom built "girlfriend" visit the land of Fractalia in this bizarre SF novel featuring lots of mathematical concepts (and quite a few kinky concepts as well). A society of sexy mathematicians... (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)
The Tachypomp (1873)
Edward Page Mitchell
I can't believe this story is as old as it is! First published in Scribner's Magazine in 1873, it is only dated by its sexism and its contradition of Einstein. In order to win the hand of the beautiful Abscissa... (more)
The Tale of the Big Computer (aka The End of Man?) (1966)
Hannes Alfven (writing as Olof Johannesson)
"Alfven, the Swedish physicist and astrophysicist who was awarded the Nobel prize for his development of plasma physics and magnetohydrodynamics (but is perhaps better remembered ... (more)
Tangents (1986)
Greg Bear
There are far too many mathematical stories about finding a way to travel into "other dimensions". Still, this one is one of my favorites. Not only do we see a clever approach to this "old" storyline,... (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)
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 Men who Murdered Mohammed (1958)
Alfred Bester
A time-travel story in which Henry Hassel travels back in time to change the past (specifically, to kill his wife who has cheated on him), but finds that none of the usual time-travel tropes apply. In... (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)
Those Who Can, Do (1965)
Bob Kurosaka
In this short-short classic, a mathematics professor ends the first day of a Differential Equations class asking for questions. One student is irksome, even peculiar, in his wish to know what practical... (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)
The Three-Body Problem (2006)
Cixim Liu (author) / Ken Liu (translator)
This creative "first contact" novel by a famous Chinese science fiction author won many awards, including the Hugo award. Like much "hard SF", it is a work of fiction in which the ideas are at least... (more)
Threshold (2006)
Bragi F. Schut/ Brannon Braga / David S. Goyer / Dan O'Shannon
This science fiction TV series featured a sarcastic dwarf mathematician character. According to Mathematics Goes to the Movies, mathematical highlights included a 4-dimensional alien object intersecting our world in the first episode, references to "isomorphic group therapy [sic]", "monotonic null sequences" and "quadratic reciprocity" in the second, and a strange statistical study in the 11th. (more)
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage (2015)
Sydney Padua
This graphic novel starts out as a basically realistic fictionalized biography of the 19th century mathematicians Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, even if it is a biography with a snarky sense of humor.... (more)
Through the Gates of the Silver Key (1934)
H.P. Lovecraft / E. Hoffmann Price
"We read of the fantastic travels of the dreamer and mystic Randolph Carter as he arrives at the Ultimate Gate separating the parallel dimensions and alternate realities of the Universe. The Gate... (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)
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)
The Time Machine (1895)
Herbert George Wells
This famous early science fiction novel opens with a clever (and, if you think ahead to the role of Minkowski Space in special relativity, prophetic) lecture on "the fourth dimension". Of course, discussions... (more)
Time, Like an Ever Rolling Stream (1992)
Judith Moffett
The aliens have come to save us from ourselves (which they do by passing environmental laws and sterilizing all humans to prevent overpopulation). One of the aliens, as a pet project, recruits eight young... (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)
To Hold Infinity (1998)
John Meaney
Meaney's first novel, which only saw its US release in 2006, is not quite as mathematical as some of his later books, but the foundations are there. We encounter "mu-space" (additional spatial dimensions... (more)
To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998)
Connie Willis
Travelling through time, as we all know, is a dangerous business. One small change in the past and you could mess up the future! In this science fiction novel, Willis proposes a (vaguely mathematical)... (more)
To The Power Against (2007)
Carrie Smith (writer) / Stephanie Lantry (Artist)
Probability and the number 235 (which appears on each cover, sometimes cleverly hidden) each play a role in this interesting but still somewhat amateurish comic book series from Conjoined Comics. Our... (more)
To Walk the Night (1937)
William Sloane
A beautifully written horror tale in which vague references to equations are used to explain the mysterious death of a researcher who believed he proved Einstein wrong and the subsequent suicide of his colleague. The book is narrated in a quaintly old-fashioned style by the colleague's best friend and a key character is the lovely but apparently inhuman woman who was married to each victim. (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)
Touching Centauri (2003)
Stephen Baxter
A mathematician solves Fermi's paradox, and then actually *does* something about it, with immense consequences. Originally appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction August 2003. Republished in the Baxter compilation "Phase Space". Very entertaining. Deals with some deep topics (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)
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)
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)
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)
Trouble on Triton (1976)
Samuel R. Delany
Originally published under the shorter title Triton, this "hard SF" novel uses mathematical concepts as part of its description of life for human colonists on the moon Triton. One of the main characters... (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)
Turing's Apples (2008)
Stephen Baxter
Story about a far-away civilization transmitting a complex message in all directions, containing a software program (“Turing machine”) which ends up creating von Neumann machines with one specific... (more)
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)
The Ultimate Analysis (1944)
John Russell Fearn
This one is a hurriedly thrown together mish-mash of mathematical statements which make no sense when examined individually but taken together, form a breathless pulp story about a mathematician who... (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)
Understand (1991)
Ted Chiang
"An experimental treatment for a drowning victim turns him into an incredible supergenius. Mathematics is mentioned several times in passing, and twice the supergenius explicitly uses it ... (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)
Unreasonable Effectiveness (2003)
Highly Rated!
Alex Kasman
"Unreasonable Effectiveness" reminds me of a classic Arthur C. Clarke style short story. It has exactly enough mathematics done correctly and a twist that boggles the mind at the end. To be fair... (more)
Unstable Orbits in the Space of Lies (1992)
Greg Egan
"Originally published in Interzone #61, July 1992. Because of an accident, people's values and beliefs, and convictions, became completely permeable to one another. So people start clumping according... (more)
The Unteleported Man (aka Lies Inc.) (1964)
Philip K. Dick
In the future, earth is overcrowded, and nearly the only relief is provided by one-way teleportation to a star system several light years away,... (more)
The Unwilling Professor (1954)
Arthur Porges
Two college students who are failing their math class kidnap an alien they encounter and force it to do homework for everyone in their fraternity. There are some cute mathematical passages. For example,... (more)
Vampire World (Trilogy) (1993)
Brian Lumley
In these sequels to Necroscope, the twin sons of Harry Keogh living in the remains of a black hole continue to fight vampires. One of the sons has visions of a "vortex of numbers". He seeks the assistance... (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)
Vault of the Beast (1940)
Alfred Elton van Vogt
"A creature of vast powers is locked up inside a vault made up of ultimate metal. The key to freeing it turns out to be 'factoring the ultimate prime number', which procedure is given an extended pseudomathematical... (more)
A Very Good Year (1984)
Jack C. Haldeman (II)
A very short fantasy-like story about Statistics. A senior statistician for Dept of Acccident Prevention describes how the law of averages appears to have failed when applied to mortality rates. In particular,... (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)
Void Star (2017)
Zachary Mason
This is a beautifully written and deep work of near-future science fiction about the development of an amazingly powerful sort of artificial intelligence. Two of the characters are mathematical both in name and perspective: Thales is a mathematically inclined Brazilian billionaire who encounters a mysterious AI which calls itself "the mathematician". (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)
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)
We (1924)
Yevgeny Zamyatin
Like 1984, We is a book about a utopia gone wrong. In fact, it is acknowledged as a source which Orwell used when writing his more famous dystopian novel. (We was written in Russian in 1921, published... (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)
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)
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)
White Rabbit, Red Wolf [This Story is a Lie] (2018)
Tom Pollock
Seventeen-year-old Peter Blankman is afraid of most things, but he loves his mother (a famous research psychologist), his twin sister (a tough girl who looks out for him), and math. So, he is in trouble... (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 Woman Who Shook the World-Tree (2012)
Michael Swanwick
A mathematical prodigy (she derived her own version of calculus to compute volumes when she was only seven years old, and by age 18 she had three PhD.s, including one in a field she had invented) teams... (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)
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)
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)
WWW: Wake (2009)
Robert J. Sawyer
A blind math prodigy uses her ability to "see" what is going on in the Internet (watch out for the pun: Websight) to discover the emergence of a virtual life form. This is a solid and very readable hard... (more)
The Year of the Jackpot (1952)
Robert A. Heinlein
A statistician notices trends in everything from war and famine to women unexpectedly stripping off their clothes in public. He concludes that the year 1954 is going to be an exceptionally bad year. ... (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)
Young Beaker (1973)
J.T. Lamberty, Jr.
A singular individual who knows how to do mental arithmetic triumphs over peers in a future where everyone has become dependent on calculators and computers. That description would apply equally to this... (more)
Zero Sum Game (2018)
S.L. Huang
Cas Russell is violent and amoral. She is also really good at math. Her understanding of physics and quick work with vectors allows her to do things like ricochet a tossed cell phone just right to knock... (more)
The Zero Theorem (2013)
Pat Rushin (screenplay) / Terry Gilliam (director)
Qohen Leth corrects people who call him a number cruncher: he's an entity cruncher. Even though he is very good at his job, processing data in the office at his company's famous cube-based computer terminals,... (more)

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