a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Singularities (2022)
John Banville
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

This ambitious work may be the capstone to the body of work by the critically acclaimed Irish novelist, John Banville. The closing words suggest that it is a finale to his career. And a clever plot conceit allows him to tie together many of his previous works.

In Banville's 2010 work The Infinities, Adam Godley was a mathematician who worked on theories involving a "multiverse". In this new novel, it is revealed that he proved a theorem on the subject that literally changed the world, allowing for characters from other Banville novels to coexist in this book's reality. For instance, Gabriel Swan from Mefisto (1986) also appears here. In fact, we learn that it is Swan who is responsible for popularizing the term "Brahma Theory" for Godley's universe changing theorem (and for helping to get it published in "Annalen der Mathematik").

The plot (such as it is) mostly follows an academic named Jaybee and a murderer recently released from prison. Jaybee (presumably standing in for the author, J.B. himself) happens to be writing a history book about Godley, and this justifies the pseudo-scholarly style of the novel which includes numerous footnotes. The murderer, also a character from a previous Banville novel, is apparently from another branch of the multiverse. He shows up at Godley's house honestly believing that it is his.

It would be a stretch to say that this book is about mathematics. Rather, it appears to be about our inability to understand the true nature of reality...and an opportunity for Banville to wrap up his oeuvre. But, some characters are mathematicians, and a theorem is used to justify the odd set-up.

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Works Similar to The Singularities
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  2. Mefisto: A Novel by John Banville
  3. The Infinities by John Banville
  4. Applied Scientific Demiurgy I - Entrance Examination Information Sheet by Mario Daniel Martín
  5. The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason
  6. Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence
  7. Psychohistorical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury
  8. Schild's Ladder by Greg Egan
  9. Distress by Greg Egan
  10. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
Ratings for The Singularities:
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:
2/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
5/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
TopicMathematical Physics, Fictional Mathematics,

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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)