a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Phantom of Kansas (1976)
John Varley
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

A sublunar meteorological artist wakens from her memory recording to learn that a serial killer has been murdering her repeatedly, and is presumably still targeting her. In trying to comprehend what it means to be "herself" under these circumstances, she works out a four-dimensional metaphor for her various selves.

Appeared in GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION (Feb 1976) reprinted in his THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY.

Contributed by Raja Thiagarajan

While I think this is a wonderful story, the "mathematics" of seeing a life as a 4-dimensional object is only mentioned in a few sentences, and (in my opinion anyway) isn't central to the story.

(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 Phantom of Kansas
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Left or Right by Martin Gardner
  2. The Cube Root of Conquest by Rog Phillips
  3. The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges
  4. The Plattner Story by Herbert George Wells
  5. Technical Error by Arthur C. Clarke
  6. Message Found in a Copy of Flatland by Rudy Rucker
  7. An Episode of Flatland by Charles H. Hinton
  8. The Image in the Mirror by Dorothy Leigh Sayers
  9. Solid Geometry by Ian McEwan
  10. The Planiverse: computer contact with a two-dimensional world by A.K. Dewdney
Ratings for The Phantom of Kansas:
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:
5/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions,
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)