a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Delicious Rivers (2006)
Ellen Maddow

This collage of absurd and entertaining scenes at a NYC post office (and the music and choreography to which they are performed) were all inspired by the mathematics of Penrose Tilings. In particular, as the playbill explains, it was developed by Maddow (a co-founder of the Talking Band company which produced it) while attending a workshop on Creative Writing and Mathematics at the Banff International Research Station for the Mathematical Sciences (BIRS).

Not only is the structure of the play mathematical (scenes almost, but not quite, repeat themselves just as regions of a non-periodic tiling do), but the mathematics is explicitly discussed in the play as well. One character reads about non-periodic tilings from the Mathematical Intelligencer (a magazine edited by the BIRS workshop's organizers) while an animation showing the formation of such a "quasicrystal" is projected onto the set. Visitors to the post office find pine cones, sea shells and a crystal in their mail boxes (a reference to the common role of the golden mean in the structure of plants, shells and quasi-crystals -- though the crystal in the play appears to be of the periodic variety ; ). And one character is an amateur mathematician who has discovered these tilings and their connection to Fibonacci numbers on his own, based on the real-life Robert Ammann and his "Ammann Bars".

I have seen a DVD of the original New York production while attending another one of those BIRS writing workshops and would strongly encourage anyone who has a chance to see this play or the DVD. The timing, music and staging were near perfect and make for a work of art about mathematics and life that goes beyond being just "mathematical fiction".

A portion of the script was published in The Shape of Content.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to Delicious Rivers
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Midtown Pythagoras by Michael Brodsky
  2. Fermat's Last Tango by Joanne Sydney Lessner / Joshua Rosenblum
  3. The Embalmer's Book of Recipes by Ann Lingard
  4. Art Thou Mathematics? by Charles Mobbs
  5. The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem by Rinne Groff
  6. Goldman's Theorem by R.J. Stern
  7. Incomplete Proofs by John Chu
  8. Riot at the Calc Exam and Other Mathematically Bent Stories by Colin Adams
  9. On the Quantum Theoretic Implications of Newton's Alchemy by Alex Kasman
  10. Mathematically Bent by Colin Adams
Ratings for Delicious Rivers:
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:
4/5 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (2 votes)

TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Real Mathematics,

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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)