a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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A Very Good Year (1984)
Jack C. Haldeman (II)

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A very short fantasy-like story about Statistics. A senior statistician for Dept of Acccident Prevention describes how the law of averages appears to have failed when applied to mortality rates. In particular, Death takes a holiday for an entire year, causing all statistical models of prediction to fail. The next year, it swings back with vengeance, killing off most of the people on the planet. A very nice description of the variety of variables that have to be included in the mathematical models of estimation (of expected number of fatalities over a New Year weekend). It can be seen as a very light version of Coates's story, "The Law". Not elaborate, just a quick dollop of mathematical fancy.

Published in Analog December 1984.

(Thanks to James Landau for pointing out the family connection between this author and his brother Joe Haldeman, also listed as an author in this database.)

(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 A Very Good Year
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Devil You Don't by Keith Laumer
  2. Probability Storm by Julian Reid
  3. The Law by Robert M. Coates
  4. The Gigantic Fluctuation by Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
  5. Off Day! by Al Feldstein (writer) / Jack Kamen (artist)
  6. Jack and the Aktuals, or, Physical Applications of Transfinite Set Theory by Rudy Rucker
  7. Numbercruncher by Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
  8. Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley by Danyl McLauchlan
  9. Bonnie's Story: A Blonde's Guide to Mathematics by Janis Hill
  10. Monday Begins on Saturday by Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
Ratings for A Very Good Year:
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 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

GenreHumorous, Science Fiction, Fantasy,
MotifFuture Prediction through Math,
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)