a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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A Fable for Moderns (1951)
Lord Dunsany
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

A bank employee becomes bored with the restrictions of arithmetic and decides to let his mathematical computations enjoy the freedom of "modern" poets and artists. Although he loses his job at the bank, he find a following a neo-arithmeticians and fame writing modern verse.

The earliest publication I can find is in the New York Times in 1951. This story is more of a gibe against modern art and beatnik poetry than it is about mathematics. The author, Edward Plunkett, who published under his title as Lord Dunsany, must have written this towards the end of his life and it was republished in the collection Ghosts of the Heaviside Layer.

I received a copy of this story in an anonymous, manila envelope...but I can only assume that it was sent by Sandro Caparrini, who has a skill for finding gems like this. Thank you, Sandro!

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Works Similar to A Fable for Moderns
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Imaginary Number by Yizhak Oren
  2. The Cambist and Lord Iron by Daniel Abraham
  3. The Bank by Robert Connolly
  4. A New Golden Age by Rudy Rucker
  5. The Root and the Ring by Wyman Guin
  6. Flower Arrangement by Rosel George Brown
  7. The Snowball Effect by Katherine Maclean
  8. The Higher Mathematics by Martin C. Wodehouse
  9. Say Wen by Ellis Parker Butler
  10. A Matter of Geometry by Ared White
Ratings for A Fable for Moderns:
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 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Mathematical Finance,
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)