a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Alone with You in the Ether: A Love Story (2022)
Olivia Blake

A bipolar artist and an obsessive mathematician who meet by chance get to know each other (and themselves) better through the course of six conversations. Although the artist already has a boyfriend, their relationship blossoms into a full-blown romance. Their conversations also help the artist break free from the psychoactive pharmaceuticals she has been required to take since being convicted of planning to counterfeit money. (The controversial viewpoint that life is better without those prescription drugs seems to be a message that this book seeks to convey.)

The mathematician is both a doctoral student and a university lecturer who works on research involving time travel. Kurt Gödel's work on general relativity is mentioned in passing, and we witness the character's attempt to motivate the chain rule to his calculus students. Unfortunately (IMHO), this character is yet another example of the stereotypical mathematician that one would find in many works of fiction: he prefers "theoretical" math and despises any practical applications, he is a horrible teacher, and seemingly has no friends aside from his father. He is supposedly a talented researcher, but the ideas described (something about hexagons being the "direction" to travel to achieve closed paths that return to an initial point in spacetime) make no sense to me. Moreover, the book makes it clear that he enjoys working on this because it will always remain an incomprehensible enigma, suggesting that he is not making any actual progress on it. The author must have a very low opinion of mathematics if that is her idea of what talented mathematicians do with their time. (BTW Since this author is best known for fantasy, one might expect that time travel would actually be manifested or play a role in this book. But, it only remains "theoretical".)

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Works Similar to Alone with You in the Ether: A Love Story
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Cubist and the Madman by Robert Metzger
  2. After Math by Denise Grover Swank
  3. The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything by Kara Gnodde
  4. The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss by Amy Noelle Parks
  5. Orpheus Lost: A Novel by Janette Turner Hospital
  6. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
  7. Coffee, Love and Matrix Algebra by Gary Ernest Davis
  8. The Intangible by C.J. Washington
  9. Moment of Madness by Una-Mary Parker
  10. Time Travel for Love and Profit by Sarah Lariviere
Ratings for Alone with You in the Ether: A Love Story:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

MotifAnti-social Mathematicians, Mental Illness, Time Travel, Math as Cold/Dry/Useless, Romance, Math Education,

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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)