a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Teenager Kallie, who doesn't particularly care for math, gets trapped in a math museum with her father and his friend Maria. They endure horrific dangers and meet the ghosts of famous mathematicians (as well as one non-famous one) as they attempt to escape.
Kallie's father and Maria are both math professors. In fact, the three of them were on their way to a Mathematical Association of America conference when they stopped for what they thought would be a short visit at the museum. So, as compared with Kallie, the two adults start with a good idea of the significance of the "exhibits" at the museum.
While inside they encounter physical manifestations of Hilbert's Hotel, the "Hairy Ball Theorem" and the Weirstrass Curve, as well as historical figures Bertrand Russell, Sophie Germain, G.H. Hardy, and John von Neumann. Other ideas addressed include the Monty Hall Problem, RSA Encryption, Gaussian curvature, the Riemann Hypothesis, and game theory. Each of the 23 chapters introduces one new mathematician or mathematical concept until (spoiler alert!) Kallie is finally able to return to the real world, with a greater appreciation for the "Queen of Sciences."
By the way, this math museum is not MoMath in New York City (a real museum that the reader can actually visit) but is instead a magical museum of mathematics which appears in the desert, like Brigadoon.
Unlike some of Adams' other fictional writings, this one never had me laughing out loud. Of course, this book is not in any way serious, even though it utilizes a familiar trope from straight horror stories like Cube. I just did not find things like Napoleon attempting to buy composite numbers from Sophie Germain's "Prime Number Shop" to be particularly funny.
The point, I guess, is that this is really supposed to be educational. In that regard, the appendices which contain additional information and even some homework exercises for each chapter are sure to be particularly helpful. However, as I already know the majority of information it seeks to convey, I am not sure I can really judge either how interesting or informative this book would be to someone who was not. If you have read this book and can offer some insight into that, please write to let me know.
|More information about this work can be found at bookstore.ams.org.|
|(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)