a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Note: This work of mathematical fiction is recommended by Alex for hardcore fans of science fiction.|
|Young Tom Corcorigan seems to represent the lowest "caste" in the extremely hierarchical human society of the year 3404. However, his mathematical abilities (he is able to figure out a way around Gödel's theorem) and his chance encounter with one of the mythical "pilots" (who visited the fractally dimensional mu-space) send him on a dangerous "roller coaster ride" - both higher and lower in this hierarchy than he would have ever thought possible.
This second novel by award winning SF author John Meaney is written in an ususual style, but works quite well. It is highly recommended to visitors to this site who enjoy science fiction laced with a good deal of mathematics. It is one of the most mathematical SF novels I have read, in fact. Although the mathematics itself does not make much sense (see below), the feeling of mathematics is well captured by the author (who has an undergraduate degree in physics and has worked in the IT industry) and it is integrated well into the larger plot. The author's interest in martial arts is also exercised in the book. In fact, there is a bit too much focus on karate in the book for my own tastes, but if you like that kind of thing it will be just another positive aspect of this generally quite good tale.
The larger plot concerns the "Oracles" who (apparently due to the reversal of time at the beginning of the "Big Crunch") can sometimes remember the future instead of the past. Like the forecasts of the psychics in "Minority Report", they are used in morally questionable ways by the government, and Tom (who by this point is himself part of this government) becomes involved in a plot to eliminate them.
I sometimes fold down the corners of the pages in the books that I read which make reference to mathematics so that I can easily find them later. Looking now at Paradox, I see 27 such folds. (Perhaps we could make this an official measure of mathematical content on this website.) Just to give you some of the flavor, let me quote one of them. In this passage, Tom is trying to impress an academic panel of royalty with his brilliance. This is difficult since he must follow the brilliant Avernon who has just presented a "theory of everything" that overthrows a thousand years of physics.
At some points, the text breaks out into pure mathematical notation (proof-trees). I'm not sure exactly what it says (nothing too deep as far as I can tell), but the author explains that he is using the notation that Woodcock and Davies developed for formal symbolic proof.
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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)