a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Been a long, long time (1970)
R.A. Lafferty
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Fred Galvin

It's a very well-written humorous tale (as expected if you're familiar with Lafferty). The mathematical content is a literal interpretation of the six typing monkeys. The angel Boshel, as a punishment, is assigned to supervise the project until the randomly-typing monkeys produce a perfect copy of the collected works of Shakespeare. The four and a half pages of the story follow the project through immense vistas of time, though not to completion. The story appeared in the December 1970 issue of Fantastic, and has been reprinted several times, e.g. in the anthology "Galactic Empires Volume One" by Brian W. Aldiss.

Contributed by David R Tribble

Lafferty does a very good job of depicting extremely vast amounts of time, not to mention a great job of making it humorous. One of my favorite SF stories.

If you're interested, you can see my take on the infinite monkey conjecture at my website.

Contributed by Keith Smith

Not a story about math, but the concept of infinity. The story tries to give the reader a way to grasp the concept of infinity, by trying to measure, what appears to the main character, as an infinite amount of time.

R.A. Lafferty is an underappreciated science fiction author.

(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 Been a long, long time
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Symposium by R.A. Lafferty
  2. Mathematics Disputes with Death, and the Devil Intervenes by Thomas Reed Willemain
  3. The Root and the Ring by Wyman Guin
  4. Prost, der Faust-Tragödie (-n)ter Teil [Prost: the (-n)th Part of the Faust Tragedy] by Kurd Lasswitz
  5. I of Newton by Joe Haldeman
  6. The Devil You Don't by Keith Laumer
  7. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
  8. Danny’s Inferno by Albert Cowdrey
  9. Inflexible Logic by Russell Maloney
  10. Fifty Million Monkeys by Raymond F. Jones
Ratings for Been a long, long time:
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 (4 votes)
Literary Quality:
4.25/5 (4 votes)

GenreHumorous, Fantasy,
TopicInfinity, Probability/Statistics,
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)