a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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De Impossibilitate Vitae and Prognoscendi (1971)
Stanislaw Lem
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)
Highly Rated!

This is a philosophical discourse (intended as a parody, but I swear I've read serious papers that were very much like it) in which the author argues that probablity theory makes no sense since it is not describing anything about the real world but only our own misconceptions about it. It appears in the very strange book "A Perfect Vacuum". The entire book is interesting, in a self-referential sort of way. This "article", and all of the others in the book, are written as book reviews (of non-existent books). In fact, the introduction to the book is a review of this book itself. (The reviewer did not like it.)

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Works Similar to De Impossibilitate Vitae and Prognoscendi
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Diary of a Bad Year by John Maxwell Coetzee
  2. Rucker - A Life Fractal by Eli Halberstam by John Allen Paulos
  3. The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason
  4. The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem
  5. Tracking the Random Variable by Marcos Donnelly
  6. Unreasonable Effectiveness by Alex Kasman
  7. Monster by Alex Kasman
  8. I of Newton by Joe Haldeman
  9. The Mathenauts by Norman Kagan
  10. The Four-Color Problem by Barrington J. Bayley
Ratings for De Impossibilitate Vitae and Prognoscendi:
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:
3.25/5 (4 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (4 votes)

TopicFictional Mathematics, Probability/Statistics,
MediumShort Stories,

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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)