a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Infinite Tides (2012)
Christian Kiefer

A somber novel about an astronaut whose daughter dies tragically and wife leaves him while he is in space. Since he and his daughter were both mathematical prodigies, for whom math was not only a beloved subject but more importantly a common interest that bound them together, math is discussed frequently throughout the book.

Many things are called "equations", whether or not they actually are, and as the title suggests, infinity appears as an underlying metaphor. In one remembered conversation, the father and daughter discuss "Hilbert's Hotel" and even introduce the notation אa...but unfortunately the author does not really understand what he's talking about and gets the math wrong. (Indeed, as he says, there are different sizes of infinity, but the cardinality of the "hotel" after people have shifted rooms to make space for another guest is not an example of one.) [Follow-up: The author informs me that he is working to correct the mathematical errors in the paperback version and future editions. -ak Oct 2012.]

Still, the book is not actually about the math, it is about the emotions, and so it is more important that Kiefer succeeds in conveying the overwhelming grief of the protagonist.

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Works Similar to The Infinite Tides
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck
  2. The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri by David Bajo
  3. The Martian by Andy Weir
  4. Forever Changes by Brendan Halpin
  5. Cliff Walk by Margaret Dickson
  6. Miss Havilland by Gay Daly
  7. The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
  8. Continuums by Robert Carr
  9. A Universe of Sufficient Size by Miriam Sved
  10. The Queen's Gambit by Scott Frank (writer&director) / Allan Scott (writer) / Walter Tevis (writer)
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MotifProdigies, Female Mathematicians,

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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)