a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Better Mousetrap (2008)
Tom Holt
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

The Better Mousetrap is the fifth book in Tom Holt's series that began with The Portable Door. The first four books told the adventures of Paul Carpenter, a fairly boring nobody who joined the firm of J W Wells & Co, not knowing its business is all magic and fantasy. Paul ends up the possessor of the Acme Portable Door, a unique item that fits inside a cardboard tube and rolls out a door, providing convenient access across space and time and dimensions.

In the fifth book, Paul has retired and his son Frank has inherited the Portable Door. Frank uses the door to help an insurance company executive avoid monstrous settlements. For 10% of the payment, Frank goes back in time and prevents the accident in question. His method involves extensive mathematical calculations, referred to several times and sort of spelled out, in order to identify to fix history properly, much like Asimov did in The End of Eternity.

But one accident, a simple cat stuck up a tree rescue gone awry, refuses to be fixed. Frank's calculations refuse to work when magic is involved, and he finds himself in an escalating war of fix and counterfix, neither side knowing quite who, where, or what the other side is.

As usual with Tom Holt, the book's humor is finely balanced and brilliantly inventive.

The Better Mousetrap can be read independently of the previous four books (which should be read in order).

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to The Better Mousetrap
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Barking by Tom Holt
  2. Little People by Tom Holt
  3. Calculated Magic by Robert Weinberg
  4. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
  5. Stranger than Fiction by Marc Forster (Director) / Zach Helm (Screenplay)
  6. Journey to the Center of Mathematics by Colin Adams
  7. Matrices by Steven Nightingale
  8. The Mathematics of Magic by L. Sprague de Camp / Fletcher Pratt
  9. Math Takes a Holiday by Paul Di Filippo
  10. Numbercruncher by Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
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GenreHumorous, Fantasy,
MotifTime Travel,
TopicMathematical Finance,

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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)