a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998)
Connie Willis
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Travelling through time, as we all know, is a dangerous business. One small change in the past and you could mess up the future! In this science fiction novel, Willis proposes a (vaguely mathematical) view of spacetime as a self-regulating chaotic system.

The plot is this: A time traveller whose job is to try to locate an ugly flower vase that disappeared from a British cathedral just before it was bombed by the Nazis goes back to the Victorian era to help another traveller (also love interest) correct the anomaly she created by saving a cat from drowning. Frequent references to Three Men in a Boat, the classic British comedy by Jerome K. Jerome.

The words "chaos" and "nonlinear" are thrown around and there is one brief reference to Charles Dodgson's (aka Lewis Carroll's) theory of condensation of matrices. Otherwise, there is no math here.

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Works Similar to To Say Nothing of the Dog
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Doctor Who: The Turing Test by Paul Leonard
  2. Bellwether by Connie Willis
  3. The Smithsonian Institution by Gore Vidal
  4. The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
  5. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  6. Infinities by John Barrow
  7. The Bones of Time by Kathleen Ann Goonan
  8. Singer Distance by Ethan Chatagnier
  9. Conceiving Ada by Lynn Hershman-Leeson
  10. A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions by Kim Stanley Robinson
Ratings for To Say Nothing of the Dog:
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:
1.1/5 (5 votes)
Literary Quality:
4.67/5 (6 votes)

GenreHistorical Fiction, Humorous, Science Fiction,
MotifTime Travel,

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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)