a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Solid Geometry (1976)
Ian McEwan
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

This short story from McEwan's award winning first collection is about a man who learns some topology from his grandfather's journals...but not your average topology. He learns how to fold surfaces (like pieces of paper) until they disappear...and that's just the beginning!

After a failed attempt to make a TV version of this story in the 1970's (the story was deemed too "sexy" for the BBC) it was made into a short film starring Ewan McGregor in 2002. (Note added June 2004: The short film is now available for sale from

Contributed by Nelson Walker

I was very glad to find your website on Mathematical Fiction. I wanted to tell you about the short story "Solid Geometry" by Ian McEwan (written in the mid 1970s) - the short story is currently in the anthology "First Love, Last Rites". I just read this short story and I was surprised how closely it resembles the old 1940s short story "No-Sided Professor", which you have featured on your website. I have No-Sided Professor in one of my older sci-fi anthologies, and I have read the short story several times.

"Solid Geometry" is about a man discovering mathematical diagrams in a diary from the 1800s, and is able to fold sheets of paper which disappear; also people can be folded in a similar manner and disappear.

Contributed by Mikko

Very disturbing and intriguing short story. I recommend.

Contributed by Anonymous

A disturbing story that has stayed with me since I first read it thirty years ago.

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Works Similar to Solid Geometry
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Killing Time by Frank Tallis
  2. No-Sided Professor by Martin Gardner
  3. Locker 49, or the Volunteers by David Rogers
  4. The Hollow Man by Dan Simmons
  5. To Walk the Night by William Sloane
  6. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  7. Schwarzschild Radius by Connie Willis
  8. The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
  9. Pi by Darren Aronofsky (director)
  10. Cube by Vincenzo Natali (Director)
Ratings for Solid Geometry:
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:
2.2/5 (5 votes)
Literary Quality:
4.2/5 (5 votes)

GenreScience Fiction, Horror,
MediumShort Stories, Films,

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Exciting News: The total number of works of mathematical fiction listed in this database recently reached a milestone. The 1,500th entry is The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for writing the summary of that work (and so many others). I am also grateful to everyone who has contributed to this website. Heck, I'm grateful to everyone who visited the site. Thank you!

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)