a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Into the Comet (1960)
Arthur C. Clarke
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

When a computer malfunction prevents the crew of a spaceship from being able to determine a trajectory back to Earth, they are forced to resort to using an abacus to aid in the computation. [Note that this seems to foreshadow the real event in which pilots on a ship designed to visit the moon were forced to do some computation by hand in order to determine a trajectory that would send them back to earth after a power failure. I'll admit that calculus may not generally be a matter of life and death, but I always point this out to my calculus students since they have all seen the film Apollo 13 in which one can clearly see the astronauts computing antiderivatives to save their lives.] First published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1960) under the title "Inside the Comet" and collected in Tales of Ten Worlds.

(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 Into the Comet
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Mathematical Kid by Ross Rocklynne
  2. Souls in the Great Machine by Sean McMullen
  3. The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
  4. Forgotten Milestones in Computing No. 7: The Quenderghast Bullian Algebraic Calculator by Alex Stewart
  5. The Feeling of Power by Isaac Asimov
  6. Clockwork by Leslie Bigelow
  7. The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke / Stephen Baxter
  8. The Wall of Darkness by Arthur C. Clarke
  9. Rama II by Arthur C. Clarke / Gentry Lee
  10. Technical Error by Arthur C. Clarke
Ratings for Into the Comet:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
TopicComputers/Cryptography, Algebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,
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)