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Jack of Eagles (1952)
James Blish
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

Blish bases this novel on a quasi-mathematical explanation of ESP and psycho-kinesis which was really not necessary and doesn't hold together at all (“the activity of the psi mechanism as a whole may be that of an infinitely overlapping group of Fourier functions, in which the nerve impulses play the part of dynamical variables”). A newspaper reporter, Danny Caiden, starts discovering that he has extra-sensory powers, including limited precognition, some telepathy and PK. With the help of a researcher of paranormal abilities, he starts understanding his abilities when a ruthless group of people, each with a particular paranormal ability, kidnaps him to either make him join their “Brotherhood” or kill him. The Brotherhood is bent on changing the evolution of the universe to a timeline where they achieve unbridled power and control. The multiverse is considered to be a sheaf of potential timelines, separated by different values of Planck's Constant and accessible through the use of psi-powers. The Brotherhood wants to get our universe to choose the appropriate timeline where they become omnipotent. From there, the story devolves into a garbled fight between good and evil, with quasi-mathematical explanations of ESP. Heisenberg's PQ — QP = i * ħ makes a couple of appearances, along with Blackett equation. Danny, who starts understanding Math and Physics at a reasonable level due to his ESP, leads the fight against the Brotherhood and wins after some surreal trips through the multiverse. Pretty bad, pulpy affair.

(BTW, This was James Blish's first novel, which may partially excuse it from Vijay's criticism above.)

(ABTW [Also By The Way?], ``Blackett's equation'' is probably a reference to the 1947 announcement by P.M.S. Blackett that he had discovered a new magneto-gravitational effect for rotating bodies. In 1952 this was probably exciting and controversial, but today it is generally considered to have been nothing other than a mistake. See here for more info.)

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Works Similar to Jack of Eagles
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. From the Earth to the Moon [De la Terre à la Lune, trajet direct en 97 heures 20 minutes] by Jules Verne
  2. FYI by James Blish
  3. Statistician's Day by James Blish
  4. The Singularities by John Banville
  5. The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
  6. Beyond the Hallowed Sky: Book One of the Lightspeed Trilogy by Ken MacLeod
  7. Light by M. John Harrison
  8. Ossian's Ride by Fred Hoyle
  9. The Year of the Jackpot by Robert A. Heinlein
  10. The Fairy Chessmen by Henry Kuttner
Ratings for Jack of Eagles:
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Mathematical Content:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
1/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
TopicMathematical Physics,

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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)