a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Kissing Number (1992)
Ian Stewart
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Published as part of his "Mathematical Recreations" column in Scientific American (February 1992), this story concerns human colonists on Mars who are trying to figure out how many non-overlapping "circular" regions of a fixed radius they can put on the planet. Though in the story the regions are the ranges of TV transmitters and the problem is complicated by ancient Martian artifacts, the point of the story is to introduce an example of a packing problem and to discuss several real results on such problems in mathematics.

(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 Kissing Number
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Globión's Whimsical Shape (La Caprichosa Forma de Globión) by Alejandro Illanes Mejía
  2. Hilbert's Hotel by Ian Stewart
  3. The Next Dimension by Vladimir Karapetoff
  4. The Extraordinary Hotel or the Thousand and First Journey of Ion the Quiet by Naum Ya. Vilenkin
  5. Science Fiction Puzzle Tales by Martin Gardner
  6. Puzzles from Other Worlds by Martin Gardner
  7. Conversations on Mathematics with a Visitor from Outer Space by David Ruelle
  8. An Episode of Flatland by Charles H. Hinton
  9. Turing (A Novel About Computation) by Christos Papadimitriou
  10. Report from the Ambassador to Cida-2 by Clifton Cunningham
Ratings for The Kissing Number:
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:
5/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
1/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction, Didactic,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Real Mathematics,
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)