a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Those Who Can, Do (1965)
Bob Kurosaka

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

In this short-short classic, a mathematics professor ends the first day of a Differential Equations class asking for questions. One student is irksome, even peculiar, in his wish to know what practical use there is of such "totally abstract concepts". So the professor gives him an answer he'll never forget.

The author was, at the time, a college mathematics instructor, so we can assume that any mathematical oddities (like calling differential equations "totally abstract") are deliberate.

Published in in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, Jan 1965, pp 73-74 reprinted in Judith Merril (ed) THE 11th ANNUAL OF THE YEAR'S BEST SF.

Contributed by Sandy Blank

Could this story be published today ?

(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 Those Who Can, Do
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Refund by Fritz Karinthy (original) / Percival Wilde (English Adaptation)
  2. Tre per zero by T. Sclavi (writer) / B. Brindisi (artist)
  3. The Crazy Mathematician by Ralph Sylvester Underwood
  4. The Visiting Professor by Robert Littell
  5. Snow by Geoffrey A. Landis
  6. The Seventh Stair by Frank Brandon
  7. Project Flatty by Irving Cox Jr.
  8. A Mathematician's Galatea by Andrew Magrath
  9. Paint ‘Em Green by Burt Filer
  10. The Long Slow Orbits by H.H. Hollis
Ratings for Those Who Can, Do:
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:
2/5 (3 votes)
Literary Quality:
2.67/5 (3 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifAnti-social Mathematicians, Academia, Math Education,
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)