a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

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

This ambitious novel may be the capstone to the body of work by the critically acclaimed Irish author 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.

More information about this work can be found at
(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 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. Singer Distance by Ethan Chatagnier
  8. Psychohistorical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury
  9. Schild's Ladder by Greg Egan
  10. Beyond the Hallowed Sky: Book One of the Lightspeed Trilogy by Ken MacLeod
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,

Home All New Browse Search About

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)