a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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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.

The story -- narrated by her British, ex-cop, artist boyfriend -- never really gets into the details of how such an algorithm would work mathematically, but there is plenty of mathematical name-dropping. We learn during an interview that she was originally inspired by Wiles' proof of Fermat's Last Theorem (which happened when she was 10 years old) and by the Langlands program. Apparently, her thesis advisor, based on these same ideas, conjectures an actuarial application of the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture. The story also mentions chaos theory (Julia and Fatou), and gives a very brief biography of Sophie Germain.

Risqueman was a second place winner in the 2009 Hubbard Writers of the Future awards from Locus Magazine and was consequently anthologized with the other winners. So far as I know, that is the only published source of this very interesting work of mathematical fiction.

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Works Similar to Risqueman
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Stochastic Man by Robert Silverberg
  2. The Bank by Robert Connolly
  3. Division by Zero by Ted Chiang
  4. Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich
  5. Mathematicians in Love by Rudy Rucker
  6. Improbable by Adam Fawer
  7. Strange Attractors by Charles Soule (author) / Greg Scott (Illustrator)
  8. Proof by Induction by José Pablo Iriarte
  9. Eye of the Beholder by Alex Kasman
  10. Feigenbaum Number by Nancy Kress
Ratings for Risqueman:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
4/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifGenius, Academia, Proving Theorems, Female Mathematicians, Future Prediction through Math, Math as Beautiful/Exciting/Useful, Romance,
TopicMathematical Finance, Probability/Statistics,
MediumShort Stories,

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Exciting News: The total number of works of mathematical fiction listed in this database recently reached a milestone. The 1,500th entry is The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for writing the summary of that work (and so many others). I am also grateful to everyone who has contributed to this website. Heck, I'm grateful to everyone who visited the site. Thank you!

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)