a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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El Troiacord (2001)
Miquel de Palol

It would be an understatement to refer to this massive novel as "complex". Written in Catalan and never translated (not even into Spanish), it is often published in multiple volumes. Adding the intricacy and depth of authors like Pynchon and Calvino to the popular 21st century conspiracy novel genre, Palol's work concerns "Joc de la Fragmentació" (aka the Fragmentation Game), a game known only to initiates in a secret order which literally has the power to change reality.

A key object in the story is the Kaleidoscope, a dodecahedron with moving parts covered in mysterious inscriptions. The reader is even given a page which can be cut out and folded to form a copy of the Kaleidoscope, albeit without any moving parts. In fact, the structure of the novel itself is modeled on the geometry of a dodecahedron, though that in itself does not qualify it to be considered "mathematical fiction" according to my definition. Within the plot, characters studying the Kaleidoscope include a cryptologist and mathematical idiot-savant. It is eventually revealed that the "end game" is a universal transformation involving the uniting of all humanity through acts of sexual intercourse and a new chemical structure based on a four-dimensional generalization of the dodecahedron.

If any of that sounds unlikely, confusing, or wrong, it could well be because I do not read Catalan myself and hence have had to rely on snippets picked up from various websites around the internet. But, I also think it could just be that this is a bizarre and complicated work of fiction which does not quite make sense.

Of course, if anyone who has read the novel could provide more specific comments about the mathematical ideas it utilizes, I would be very grateful.

Thanks to Thomas Riepe for bringing this intriguing work of mathematical fiction to my attention.

Contributed by Thomas Riepe

The blogger of "The Untranslated" does not want to tell more about the book or the author than he blogged (he obviously is in contact with Palol, as he write in an other entry about an unpublished novel), the book agent of Palol mailed me that a french and an english translation shall come "in a few years" and ignored the question for more infos (reviews of Troiacord, interviews of the author, etc.).

(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.)

Works Similar to El Troiacord
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  2. Dante Dreams by Stephen Baxter
  3. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
  4. The Tower of Babylon by Ted Chiang
  5. The Eight by Katherine Neville
  6. The Translated Man by Chris Braak
  7. Gospel Truths by J.G. Sandom
  8. Napier's Bones by Derryl Murphy
  9. The Midnighters (Series) by Scott Westerfield
  10. Fractal Mode by Piers Anthony
Ratings for El Troiacord:
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GenreScience Fiction, Fantasy,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions,

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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)