a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Mariah is a Stanford University math major who has lost her interest in the subject of mathematics. She is initially annoyed when Kwalla takes the seat next to hers in class. Kwalla is an alien with rows of sharp teeth and strangely jointed legs, and on her planet it unthinkable for anyone to dislike math. Kwalla shows Mariah a correspondence her species has developed between stories and equations, and a device that forms floating fractals based on those equations by crystalizing water vapor in the air. The way that this procedure can take stories (such as the story of how Mariah and Kwalla met and became friends) and turn them into visually beautiful mathematical objects restores Mariah's interest in mathematics, and helps their mutual affection bloom into love. However, the future of their relationship is threatened when Kwalla is accepted at one of the better universities in another solar system.
This story, by the author whose pseudonym is "Nicky Drayden", was published in Issue #120 of Space and Time Magazine. However, there are two easier ways to obtain it than through that original publication. It can be read online for free at Glittership.com (2017) and you can listen to a podcast of a famous actor reading it on the "Levar Burton Reads" podcast from 2019.
In any of these formats, the story is notable for being one of the few works of mathematical fiction featuring a Black female mathematician or lesbian romance. It also addresses the idea that some people are "born to do math" and everyone else shouldn't even try:
Spoiler Alert: By the end of the story, Mariah is recognized for her mathematical skill and receives her own invitation to study math at a prestigious university.
For the most part, this is a serious story, but my personal favorite line is this humorous one that occurs when Mariah tries to evacuate the dorm after her attempt to make a fractal threatens the safety of its residents:
|More information about this work can be found at www.glittership.com.|
|(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)