a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Cube (1997)
Vincenzo Natali (Director)

Contributed by Jon Salt

This [film] concerns the attempt of six individuals to escape from a vast network of interlocking cubes, each room, and each wall, floor and ceiling identical. The rooms vary in colour. Some are harmless; some contain deadly traps. One of the six prisoners (none of whom understand why they have woken up in this minimalist dungeon) notices a pattern between the booby-trapped rooms and the numbers on the little square hatch leading to them. And two of the best twists in the movie are mathematical...

I'd like to add a few non-mathematical comments to the review from Jon Salt above. First, I think it should be pointed out that the film is very violent and gory. (I was not expecting this from the descriptions I had heard before I rented it for my wife and myself to watch one quiet evening.) Secondly, I see the movie as presenting a rather subtle metaphor. I cannot be sure that this is what the authors intended, but I certainly prefer to think of "the cube" not as literally being a giant mechanical death-trap but as being representative of the dangers and obstacles created by our society itself. As we learn in the film (bit of a spoiler coming up...don't read it if you don't want to know!), the cube was built by people who each made a little part of it without really thinking or caring about what they were doing...just "their jobs". My wife was then bothered by the fact that the people who actually put the parts together must have seen what they were making, and this made her have trouble "believing" the film. But, if you view it my way, you realize that the deadly traps in the cube (created by ambivalent, not evil people) are not all that different than the "traps" we encounter in the real world. Cigarettes, welfare that pays more than minimum wage but not enough to live in a decent place, heavily marketed automobiles and alcohol that together become a recipe for danger...these are all deadly traps that we face every day and they really were created somewhat unintentionally without anyone being able to really see the whole thing at once. (Sorry if I'm getting too preachy here!)

For fun, check out the film's weird Web site at

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 Cube
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds
  2. Lost in the Math Museum by Colin Adams
  3. The Integral: A Horror Story by Colin Adams
  4. Pi by Darren Aronofsky (director)
  5. Solid Geometry by Ian McEwan
  6. The Hollow Man by Dan Simmons
  7. Fermat's Room (La Habitacion de Fermat) by Luis Piedrahita / Rodrigo SopeƱa
  8. The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
  9. Schwarzschild Radius by Connie Willis
  10. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Ratings for Cube:
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:
3.08/5 (12 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.73/5 (15 votes)

GenreScience Fiction, Horror,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,

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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)