a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

The Balloon Hoax (1844)
Edgar Allan Poe
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

This is Poe's account of an alleged balloon trip to the moon, in the spirit of the then infamous moon hoax. The balloon rider describes the Earth as appearing concave when 5 miles up. Later, a highly detailed geometric explanation of this illusion is given.

See also the earlier Poe story "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall" (1835) on the same idea.

Contributed by Holly

I love Poe, really and truly, but I would steer casual readers elsewhere. This short story, with its dense and dry narrative, is a painful reading experience in the extreme.

Contributed by John C. Konrath

While this tale certainly starts slowly with a detailed description of the balloon and its predecessors, the pace picks up with the journal of the actual flight. When the reader bares in mind that this story was written in 1850 its remarkable nature becomes clear. The most interesting aspect of this work is found in comparing the anticipated future of aeronautic progress with what has actually transpired. This was certainly a daring work in its day and Poe's enthusiasm for science makes this story still worth reading.

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 Balloon Hoax
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Round the Moon by Jules Verne
  2. Topsy-turvy (Sans Dessus Dessous) by Jules Verne
  3. The Plattner Story by Herbert George Wells
  4. The Star by Herbert George Wells
  5. Micromegas by Fran├žois Marie Arouet de Voltaire
  6. The Gold-Bug by Edgar Allan Poe
  7. The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe
  8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  9. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott
  10. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Ratings for The Balloon Hoax:
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 (3 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.33/5 (3 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

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)