a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Izzy at the Lucky Three (1996)
Eliot Fintushel
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

There are two kinds of weird: good weird and bad weird. This story is the third kind. I mean, what can you say about a story in which the Yiddishe mystic Izzy encounters the demon spirit who created the Law of Excluded Middle (which guarantees that Izzy's math grad student daughter in-law either is or is not pregnant) and defeats him by using his knowledge of obscure laws relating to the hotel trade?

There is quite a bit of discussion about Brouwer's Fixed Point Theorem, which states that every continuous map of a topological n-ball into itself has at least one point which is its own image. (Since continuity isn't discussed in the story, the statements of the theorem there are not technically true, but it's just a story for Willy's sake!) The main focus seems to be on the fact that the Law of Excluded Middle was needed for the proof, and that this would not have been the case but for the evil Manichee Smith, who now wants to kill Izzy!

This story was published in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, June 1996 (pp 86-106).

Izzy was introduced earlier in Herbrand's Conjecture and the White Sox Scandal. If you haven't had enough of them yet, Izzy and company return in Hamisch in Avalon.

(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 Izzy at the Lucky Three
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. White Light, or What is Cantor's Continuum Problem? by Rudy Rucker
  2. Uncle Georg's Attic by Ben Schumacher
  3. Four Brands of Impossible by Norman Kagan
  4. Monster by Alex Kasman
  5. Bellwether by Connie Willis
  6. Ms Fnd in a Lbry by Hal Draper
  7. Unreasonable Effectiveness by Alex Kasman
  8. The Mathenauts by Norman Kagan
  9. Futurama (Episode: The Prisoner of Benda) by Ken Keeler (writer) / Stephen Sandoval (director)
  10. The Grass and Tree by Eliot Fintushel
Ratings for Izzy at the Lucky Three:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,
TopicReal Mathematics, Logic/Set Theory,
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)