a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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A Slight Miscalculation (1971)
Ben Bova

Contributed by Александр Никольский

This is a story of a mathematician who found a way to predict earthquakes. He finds out that there will be a major earthquake in California (where he lives). After checking this prediction using CalTech's computer he notices that his own results is slightly different from the computer's. While he tries to figure out the reason of this discrepancy, other people are leaving the California in a great hurry. Being obsessed with the problem, he does not notice the panic, ignoring the fact that he might be in danger himself. Finally the earthquake begins exactly at the predicted time and date. After it is over, mathematician notices that the computer's version was correct : the rest of USA lays beneath the sea...

There is no actual mathematics in this story. Anyway it is only a joke. I think there is no reason to look for mistakes in it.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to A Slight Miscalculation
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Topsy-turvy (Sans Dessus Dessous) by Jules Verne
  2. The Year of the Jackpot by Robert A. Heinlein
  3. Blowups Happen by Robert A. Heinlein
  4. Round the Moon by Jules Verne
  5. Numbers in the Dark (La notte dei numeri) by Italo Calvino
  6. The Story of Yung Chang by Ernest Bramah (Ernest Bramah Smith)
  7. The Adventure of the Russian Grave by William Barton / Michael Capobianco
  8. Professor Morgan's Moon by Stanley Waterloo
  9. Another Cock Tale by Chris Miller
  10. Freemium by Louis Evans
Ratings for A Slight Miscalculation:
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 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,
MotifFuture Prediction through Math,
MediumShort Stories,

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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)