a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Krise [Crisis] (1978)
Helga Königsdorf
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

A pure mathematician at an East German research facility has already moved (not entirely by choice) to a technical institute when his paper on a crisis ["Krise"] in number theory is published. So, the research facility is embarrassed to receive a letter from Soviet officials congratulating them on having such an impressive employee.

This story appears in the collection "Meine ungehörigen Träume" in 1978, though it was probably also published earlier. (If you know the original publication date, please let me know so I can update the entry.) It does not appear to have ever been translated into English. I am very grateful to Ingrid Voigt for bringing this author and her mathematical fiction to my attention and to Hauke Reddmann for taking the time to read and review it for me. Here are some of their remarks:

Contributed by Ingrid Voigt

A suggestion for your MathFiction collection. Many of the short stories of German writer Helga Königsdorf would qualify. She was both a mathematician and a writer, quite a bit of her work is set in the "Institut för Zahlographie" - "Institute for Numbergraphy".

Contributed by Hauke Reddmann

It is tempting to read too much into the work of Helga Königsdorf, mathematician and writer, who survived the Nazis, the GDR, broken ideals and Parkinsons disease (and recently died in 2014 at age 75). She was one of the many who believed socialism to be a good thing and only the real existing one being faulty. Liability of the scientist and feminism were a main theme in her work, but given that her husband and son are mathematicians too, there is surprisingly little math in her stories.

"Meine ungehörigen Träume" (1978) - Contains the short stories "Lemma 1" and "Krise" which could be termed Social Math (in analogy to Social Fiction, a category of SF). Content: If I'd botched a lemma, so there, I'm an amateur. If a capitalist mathematician botches a lemma, it might *very* theoretically endanger his job. If a communist mathematician botches a lemma and ruins the 5 Year Plan...The botchess is rather lucky that her superiors, who signed the botchery without looking, have to take most of the flak. "Krise" is of similar content - under communism, *everything* was political.

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Works Similar to Krise [Crisis]
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Lemma 1 by Helga Königsdorf
  2. Mathematical R & D by Paul J. Nahin
  3. The First Circle by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
  4. Monday Begins on Saturday by Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
  5. The Body Outside the Kremlin by James L. May
  6. Q.E.D. by Jack Eric Morpurgo
  7. Dr. Casey’s Temporization by Jean McGarry
  8. The Arnold Proof by Jessica Francis Kane
  9. Stay Close, Little Ghost by Oliver Serang
  10. Satisfactory Proof by Cynthia Morrison Phoel
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MediumShort 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)