a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Dreams in the Witch-House (1933)
H.P. Lovecraft
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Jody Trout

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 being burned at the stake by opening a gate into the fourth dimension. Walter starts to have strange dreams and happenings as he begins to connect his mathematical studies with the magic of Keziah Mason. He dies a horrible death in the end...

Contributed by Ian Thompson

first read this story when I was 13 and have read it several times since. Now 27 years later I still think its a great story and one of HPL's best. The math/geometry is an excellent idea but not central to the story.

Contributed by Sebastian Lutz

As in many of Lovecraft's stories, here again the basic idea is already given on the first pages and discarded as rumor and superstition, only to be verified in the end. Apart from this, the story is reasonably well written and can still give a little chill.

The mathematics is a jumble of buzzwords from Special and General Relativity, but do not show comprehension on the author's side: Lovecraft seems to be confused about the difference between the physical content of the theories of relativity and their mathematical formulation in differential geometry. He repeatedly refers to ``other dimensions'' which can be accessed somehow by elaborate calculations and at one point the protagonist is said to be ``near the boundary between the known universe and the fourth dimension'' with his calculations, thus showing a lack of understanding of both geometry and relativity.

Note that this was apparently filmed for a TV series called `Masters of Horror'' in 2005. See here for more info about that.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to The Dreams in the Witch-House
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Through the Gates of the Silver Key by H.P. Lovecraft / E. Hoffmann Price
  2. The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
  3. Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley by Danyl McLauchlan
  4. Mersenne's Mistake by Jason Earls
  5. The Mathematics of Magic by L. Sprague de Camp / Fletcher Pratt
  6. The Midnighters (Series) by Scott Westerfield
  7. The Shadow Guests by Joan Aiken
  8. Vampire World (Trilogy) by Brian Lumley
  9. Plane and Fancy by P. Schuyler Miller
  10. The Ghosts by Lord Dunsany
Ratings for The Dreams in the Witch-House:
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:
2/5 (4 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.75/5 (4 votes)

GenreScience Fiction, Fantasy, Horror,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions,
MediumTelevision Series or Episode, Short Stories,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)