a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

Macroscope (1969)
Piers Anthony
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

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 portrayed.

Okay, I'll admit I have not read this book. I just heard about it from a new site visitor (see below) and read a review or two online. (I look forward to having an opportunity to read it someday.)

Thanks to Daren Scot Wilson for bringing it to my attention!

Contributed by Daren Scot Wilson

Alex, that is a great site you have, with more math-oriented fiction than I ever knew about. I found it through a recent comment on Slashdot. Other things I've planned to do this evening... all gone out the window now! I mean that in a good way, of course.

One book I don't see mentioned - Macroscope by Piers Anthony, published the early 1970s. I read it in high school, and it had an influence on several of us smart science-oriented kids. Two reasons, at least, it could be considered math fiction:

1. A key point of the plot how something that could be considered an educational video from unknown cosmic sources causes insanity/brain-death of some of Earth's finest intellects. The honest educational video part of it introduces a source of galactic knowledge free to all (iirc) - sort of like wikipedia but one-way and better quality. It is overlaid by a "Destroyer" signal which is a major thread in the plot for the rest of the book. Both are mathematical in nature - the universal language among intelligent beings, as is popular among speculators in science to believe. Simple shapes, equations, etc. growing into sophisticated language.

2. "Sprouts" - a paper-and-pencil game for those who love topology. My classmates and I played far too much of this during class.

It also contains the only sensible description of astrology I've ever read anywhere, but that's not math. And some wild engineering, and an interesting way to travel at high-G.

Even if not the strongest example of math fiction, it's certainly as much as many other fine books and movies in your database, and I urge you to please add Macroscope.

More information about this work can be found at
(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to Macroscope
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. From the Earth to the Moon [De la Terre à la Lune, trajet direct en 97 heures 20 minutes] by Jules Verne
  2. Eversion by Alastair Reynolds
  3. The Crazy Mathematician by Ralph Sylvester Underwood
  4. Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds
  5. Paint ‘Em Green by Burt Filer
  6. Solenoid by Mircea Cartarescu
  7. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  8. Ossian's Ride by Fred Hoyle
  9. Exordia by Seth Dickson
  10. Sword Game by H.H. Hollis
Ratings for Macroscope:
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.


GenreScience Fiction,

Home All New Browse Search About

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)