MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Squate (2022)
Tom Blackford
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In this cute story, a thirteen year old girl becomes good friends with the square root of eight. From "Squate", she learns not only facts about math but also things about other people who are working with him. Consequently, she is able to surprise her math teacher by saying things like:

(quoted from Squate)

They might not be regular integers, but they’re certainly algebraic integers. You know what algebraic integers are, right, Mr. Henderson? Roots of a monic polynomial with integer coefficients?

and she also knows when classmates are cheating on their homework...or when teachers are cheating on their spouses.

Speaking of spouses, she also learns things about the lives of the numbers themselves. For example:

(quoted from Squate)

Positive square roots are male, negative square roots are female. Like Squate’s wife, Minus Squate. It’s sexist, I know. But that’s just how it is in Quadworld, where they live. Only they don’t use terms like ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ there. They’re called . . . conjugates, or something.

The author is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Philosophy at Western Illinois University. When he sent me an early draft of the story, I suggested that he consider sending it to The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, where it was eventually published.

Citation: Tom Blackford, "Squate," Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Volume 12 Issue 2 (July 2022), pages 563-578. Available at: https://scholarship.claremont.edu/jhm/vol12/iss2/38

More information about this work can be found at scholarship.claremont.edu.
(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 Squate
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Numberland by George Weinberg
  2. The Number Devil [Der Zahlenteufel] by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
  3. The Mathematician's Nightmare: The Vision of Professor Squarepunt by Bertrand Russell
  4. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster / Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)
  5. Saint Joan of New York: A Novel About God and String Theory by Mark Alpert
  6. A non-Euclidean story or: how to persist when your geometry doesn’t by Rami Luisto
  7. Lost by Tamora Pierce
  8. The Fairytale of the Completely Symmetrical Butterfly by Dietmar Dath
  9. Night of the Eerie Equations by Robert Black
  10. Prime Suspect: The Anatomy of Integers and Permutations by Andrew Granville / Jennifer Granville / Robert J. Lewis (Illustrator)
Ratings for Squate:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
5/5 (1 votes)
.
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)
..

Categories:
GenreFantasy,
MotifProdigies, Female Mathematicians,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Real Mathematics,
MediumAvailable Free Online,

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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)