a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Whisper of Disks (2002)
John Meaney
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Contributed by Vijay Fafat

I found this to be a strange story. It switches between a few time periods in the future and in the past. The present is about a young girl, Augusta - “Gus” - who develops over time into a math and physics genius, living to be a 113 and becoming one of the richest people on earth, discovering “mu-space” and interstellar travel shortcut to alpha-Centauri. The past explores the adulterous relations her ancestor, Ada Lovelace is rumored to have had during her lifetime (A very-married Ada Lovelace having laudanum-induced erotic dreams about Charles Babbage and John Crosse while simultaneously thinking about the power of mechanical computers and the logic which Babbage and she have created, the power of “the pattern beneath the world”.)

Math content is fairly low, though there are mathematical references, and does have Ada Lovelace as a main character. The story did not hold my attention.

This story is only barely science fiction. However, Gus also is mentioned in Meaney's science fiction novel Resolution.

This story first appeared in Interzone 183 (2002), was reprinted in 2003's The Year's Best Science Fiction, ed. Gardner Dozois, and is also available in a 2020 anthology of the same name.

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Works Similar to The Whisper of Disks
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Resolution by John Meaney
  2. Conceiving Ada by Lynn Hershman-Leeson
  3. The Difference Engine by William Gibson / Bruce Sterling
  4. The Fourth Quadrant by Dorothy Lumley
  5. Context by John Meaney
  6. A Matter of Mathematics by Tony Ballantyne
  7. The Woman in Schrödinger's Wave Equations by Eugene Mirabelli
  8. Pop Quiz by Alex Kasman
  9. Eye of the Beholder by Alex Kasman
  10. Singleton by Greg Egan
Ratings for The Whisper of Disks:
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GenreScience Fiction,
MotifReal Mathematicians, Female Mathematicians, Ada Lovelace,
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)