a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Monday Begins on Saturday (1966)
Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

In this parody of the activity at Soviet research thinktanks, mathematics underlies the "science" of magic. Math is rarely discussed in depth and a knowledge of Russian fairy tales helps the reader to get the jokes, but this novel is still highly recommended for anyone with connections to research as the humor remains timely and universal.

(quoted from Monday Begins on Saturday)

The fact is that the most fascinating and elegant scientific results quite often have the characteristic of appearing precious and dully incomprehensible to the uninitiated. Today, people far removed from science expect miracles from it, and only miracles, and are functionally incapable of distinguishing a true miracle from a trick or some intellectual somersault. The science of thaumaturgy and spell-craft is no exception. Many are capable of organizing a convention of famous ghosts in a TV studio, or boring a hole in a foot-and-a-half concrete wall with their look, and this no one needs, but it can drive the vulnerable public into fits of ecstasy, since it is incapable of visualizing to what extent science has intertwined and intermixed the concepts of reality with those of fairy tales. But try instead to find the profound inner relationship between the drilling look and the philological properties of the word concrete. Try to solve the small particular problem, known as Auers' Great Problem! It was solved by Oira-Oira, who created the Theory of Fantastic Commonality, and who laid down the framework for an entirely new field of mathematical magic. Nevertheless, almost no one heard of Oira-Oira, while everyone was fully informed about Professor Vibegallo. ("Oh, you work at SRITS? And how is Professor Vibegallo? What has he invented lately?") This had come about because only two or three .jaundred people on this entire globe were capable of grasping Oira-Oira's ideas. Among them were several corresponding members but, alas, not one correspondent. The classic work of Vibegallo, Fundamentals of Production Technology of Auto-attiring Footwear, on the other hand, which was stuffed with demagogic prattling, made quite an impact at one time due to B. Pupilov's efforts. (Later, it became evident that auto-attiring shoes cost more than a motorcycle and were sensitive to dust and humidity.)

An English translation is available for free online at

Thanks to Rob Milson for suggesting the inclusion of this work on the list!

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to Monday Begins on Saturday
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Gigantic Fluctuation by Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
  2. Mathemagics by Margaret Ball
  3. Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley by Danyl McLauchlan
  4. Bonnie's Story: A Blonde's Guide to Mathematics by Janis Hill
  5. The Devil You Don't by Keith Laumer
  6. The Smithsonian Institution by Gore Vidal
  7. The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells (Episode: The Truth about Pyecraft) by Chris Harrald (Script) / Clive Exton (Script) / Herbert George Wells (story)
  8. Jack and the Aktuals, or, Physical Applications of Transfinite Set Theory by Rudy Rucker
  9. Krise [Crisis] by Helga Königsdorf
  10. The Mathematics of Magic by L. Sprague de Camp / Fletcher Pratt
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GenreHumorous, Science Fiction, Fantasy,
MediumNovels, Available Free Online,

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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)