a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Cley is one of the few "original" humans left in a future where most of the characters are genetically enhanced. These engineered lifeforms, whether they are Supras (a highly advanced humanoid) or based on some other natural species, look upon Cley as hopelessly primitive.|
There are some discouraging words about mathematics right at the bottom of the first page:
The main plot of the book involves a devastating attack by immaterial beings who desperately wish to eliminate all "originals" like Cley. She is saved by "Seeker", a genetically engineered raccoon who seems to know quite a bit of math himself. Twice when Supras mention something about infinite, Seeker shows off by commenting on the different sizes of transfinite cardinals. It turns out that the attackers know advanced mathematical physics which sounds a lot like String Theory. Coincidentally, Cley and the Supra librarians she was working with were investigating the ancient Earth culture that discovered it. Here she discusses it with a Supra who taught Cley to communicate telepathically:
Seeker seems to know a lot about it also:
There is one place where Cley demonstrates she isn't completely incapable of thinking mathematically (imagining a reversal of chirality of a 3D-object following a rotation in 4D-space). She achieved this with lots of hints from Seeker who seemed very proud of her after she did this. But, often the point seemed to be to emphasize how bad at math and uninterested in it this "Original" was. (I started finding this mathematical paternalism quite annoying.)
At one point Seeker tosses in an insult to the mathematical (in)abilities of "Ur"-humans like Cley along with a discussion of the fact that deterministic theories of mathematical physics do not necessarily lead to effective predictions:
Here is one more mathematical quote, in which one of the Supras explains how the bad guys discovered faster-than-light travel:
This science fiction novel is written in an unusual style that the author calls "transcendental adventure". To me, it seemed to be little more than a drug-fueled delusion sprinkled nonsensically with mathematical terminology. That description could also fit much of Rudy Rucker's writings, but in my opinion Rucker is much better at it than Benford. I found this novel nearly unreadable. But, you might love it. If you've read this book and would like to see this forum to say positive things about it, used the "ratings" feature below to enter your own ratings and comments.
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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.)|
Exciting News: The total number of works of mathematical fiction listed in this database recently reached a milestone. The 1,500th entry is The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for writing the summary of that work (and so many others). I am also grateful to everyone who has contributed to this website. Heck, I'm grateful to everyone who visited the site. Thank you!
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)