a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|A teenage math genius living in Manhattan believes she has been contacted by God to let her know that her work on string theory is part of an important cosmic plan.
In many ways, Joan Cooper is like the stereotypical math prodigies encountered in other works of fiction. She has trouble making friends at schools. She recites the digits of π to herself as a coping mechanism when she is nervous. And, she's so good at math that her high school teachers cannot really teach her any more. Consequently, she is working with a math professor at City College who encourages her to work on any math problem she wants. The professor is disappointed, however, when Joan chooses to try to develop a new sort of geometry for the curled up dimensions of spacetime to replace the role of Calabi-Yau manifolds that string theorists currently use. (Another stereotype: the math professor only likes math in its purest form and hates any hint of real world application.)
But, Joan soon gets caught up in the battle between "God" and "The Adversary", with her computation of the fine-structure constant α being of importance to their respective plans for the future of humanity.
From his training as a physicist and his work at Scientific American, the author knows enough math and physics to get that part of it right. (Though, I wish he'd been able to avoid mathematical stereotypes.) Topologist Grigori Perelman and mathematical physicists like Ed Witten are mentioned frequently. And there are occasional math jokes like the slogan "You have to be odd to be number one". So, this book is recommended for those who like their fiction to be mathematically-flavored (but only if they can be open-minded about the religious aspects).
Although this book is available from Amazon (see link below), since it is published by Springer many people with a university affiliation can probably download it for free directly from the publisher's website.
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|(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.)|
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)