a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Back to Methuselah (1921)
George Bernard Shaw
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

In this not-very-stageable play in five parts, Shaw expounds on mankind and the theory of evolution, from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to a paradise world 30,000 years in the future. It turns out that in the future, when these transhumans get bored with the opposite sex, or life in general, they take up mathematics. There is a very interesting mathematical footnote regarding Shaw. A mathematician, Archibald Henderson (professor at Duke, author of THE TWENTY SEVEN LINES UPON THE CUBIC SURFACE) was an early devotee of GBS, became one of Shaw's good friends, his best known critic, and his official biographer.

Contributed by Anonymous

I have been reading GBS dramas ever since 1963 and BACK TO MEHUSELAH and MAN AND SUPERMAN ever since 1970, and find that this evolutionist (or vorticist as he describes himself) the best of intellectual dramatists England has ever produced. I AM AT PRESENT 66 AND HALF YEARS OLD (SORRY,YOUNG) AND I WOULD LIKE TO INTERACT WITH ANYONE WHO REALLY IS INTERESTED IN THE IDEAS OF BTM AND MS. THE ONLY QUERY IS HOW MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE IN THE IDEAS IN BTM AND ARE TRYING?

Contributed by Balwant Singh

Back to Methuselah is a real classic with evolution as religion for theme which is to be read and understood as if to apply in life, like one should apply the essence of the Holy Bible, or the advice of the Oracle of Delphi, or the demands of the human race if it is to be saved. If the Maiden says she would prefer study of Maths to sensual pleasures, it is not that Maths is the theme (property of numbers is just one topic mentioned). Looking for Maths as topic/theme in this biological Pentateuch is missing the mark. Please pardon if theses comments are not as expected. However, even the signs, equations, and some formulas of mathematical colour which occur around the figure of your goodself have the quality of inducing meditative peace.

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Works Similar to Back to Methuselah
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Devil and the Lady by Alfred Tennyson
  2. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  3. In Good King Charles's Golden Days by George Bernard Shaw
  4. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
  5. The Devil and Simon Flagg by Arthur Porges
  6. The Birds by Aristophanes
  7. Topsy-turvy (Sans Dessus Dessous) by Jules Verne
  8. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  9. Kazohinia [A Voyage to Kazohinia] by Sándor Szathmári
  10. The Root and the Ring by Wyman Guin
Ratings for Back to Methuselah:
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:
1.5/5 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
5/5 (3 votes)

GenreHumorous, Fantasy,
MediumPlays, Available Free Online,

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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)