MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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(Note: This is not the entire list of works of Mathematical Fiction. To see the entire list, click here.)
Locker 49, or the Volunteers (2021)
David Rogers
This short story is a tale of mysterious synchronicity revolving around: the Fibonacci sequence, spirals, horrific deaths and disappearances of school children, spacetime anomalies, and an empty school... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-24 16:22:11
Puzzles from Other Worlds (1984)
Martin Gardner
This is the second collection of science fiction puzzles which Martin Gardner wrote for the Issac Asimov Science Fiction Magazine. The preface describes the book well (as well as the process of mathematical... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-24 15:52:43
Science Fiction Puzzle Tales (1981)
Martin Gardner
This is the first collection of science fiction puzzles which Martin Gardner wrote for the Issac Asimov Science Fiction Magazine. A number of these puzzles are mathematical, all very enjoyable. The preface: When... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-24 15:49:27
Codes, Puzzles & Conspiracy [a.k.a. Dr. Ecco, Mathematical Detective] (1992)
Dennis Shasha
The second book in the series containing 45 mathematical puzzles woven into a string of adventures involving Dr. Jacob Ecco, “mathematical detective”. From its preface: Like its predecessor The... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-24 15:44:34
The Puzzling Adventures of Dr. Ecco (1988)
Dennis Shasha
The first in a sequence of delightful books. This one offers 38 puzzles packaged very well as a collection of stories solved by Dr. Ecco. To introduce him: “Dr. Jacob Ecco is a mathematical... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-24 15:37:54
Proof by Induction (2021)
José Pablo Iriarte
Paul Gifford is a waiting-for-tenure professor of mathematics at a university. His father, a professor-emiritus of mathematics at the same university has just passed away. This death has come at a very... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-18 15:10:29
Murder by Mathematics (1948)
Hector Hawton
A murder mystery based on the purported discovery of the elementary proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. As the review from Scripta Mathematica, 1948, pg 294 describes: ... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-17 10:45:26
From the Earth to the Moon [De la Terre à la Lune, trajet direct en 97 heures 20 minutes] (1865)
Jules Verne
This 19th century work of science fiction concerns an attempt by the Baltimore Gun Club to launch three astronauts in a projectile fired from a giant cannon. The novel mostly concerns the practical obstacles... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-17 10:33:35
The A, B, C of the Higher Mathematics (1907)
Ramaswami Aiyar
A 1-page lyrical parable about the evolution of calculus through the marriage of Algebra with the concept of Limits (so the tale says), and the birth of its 3 Princes - Astronomy (using Infinity),... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-13 21:28:37
Path Correction (2021)
Sylvia Wenmackers
This short story, published in the journal Nature, imagines a future in which people can have the Lyapunov exponent of their own lives evaluated for a fee. Theoretically, this would give them an idea... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-13 20:17:47
The Adventures of a Mathematician (2020)
Thor Klein (writer/director)
This film about mathematician Stanislaw Ulam is based on his autobiography with the same title but focuses only on the period of time when, as a recent immigrant from Poland, he was working on the Manhattan... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-12 07:40:56
What the Tortoise Said to Achilles (1895)
Lewis Carroll
A very short dialogue-story, where the Tortoise teaches Achilles that in the strictest sense of Logic, the process of inference from even 2 propositions to an almost automatically-implied third proposition... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-11 21:19:06
The Riddle of the Universe & Its Solution (1978)
Christopher Cherniak
The literature is quite rich in the exploration of harmful memes which can take over the mind through the body’s sensory apparatus, effectively seizing up the brain into a coma or an endless loop.... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-06 22:06:24
The Spoilers (1968)
Desmond Bagley
June, the daughter of Sir Robert Hellier, a wealthy movie moghul, dies of an overdose of heroin dissolved in a solution of methylamphetamine. So Sir Hellier decides to finance a no-cost-spared war against... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-03 18:40:34
Number Stories of Long Ago (1919)
David Eugene Smith
A really beautiful, well-crafted book which presents a very wide variety of aspects of the history of number theory through fictional stories from Mesopotamia, Rome, Egypt, China, and many other places,... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-03 18:32:47
Probability Pipeline (1988)
Rudy Rucker / Marc Laidlaw
A typical Rudy Rucker short story full of techno-jargon and hippie language. Delbert and Zep are two brothers looking for good surfing opportunities. One day, Delbert hypnotizes Zep and plants an... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-10-03 18:26:27
The Snowball Effect (1952)
Katherine Maclean
A comedic look at how experiments, particularly those in which the researcher has little control over the variables, can get out of hand like an uncontrolled chain-reaction with hilarious effects. Prof.... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-28 21:34:19
The Whisper of Disks (2002)
John Meaney
I found this to be a strange story. It switches between a few time periods in the future and in the past. The present is about a young girl, Augusta - “Gus” - who develops over time into a math and... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-26 22:45:46
The Tale of a Comet (1870)
Spencer Edward
How many times have we wondered about the workings of dazzling, magical brains of the likes of Ramanujan? Of the potentially unearthly origins of brilliants intellects like Ed Witten? That perhaps one... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-26 22:35:32
La Conjecture de Syracuse (2008)
Antoine Billot
Although in reality the Collatz Conjecture remains unresolved, in Billot's novel the problem was famously solved by Etienne Thèseus, who figured out the solution while he fought for France in Algeria... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-23 17:19:55
Flower Arrangement (1959)
Rosel George Brown
I kept smiling throughout this story, which weaves in mathematics without really speaking about it overtly, and at the same time, capturing sardonic commentary about treatment of women in a male-centric... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-21 20:14:25
All the Universe in a Mason Jar (1977)
Joe Haldeman
A humorous science fiction tale. John Taylor Taylor is a retired mathematician living in New Hampstead, Florida. One fine day, as he sits at his regular bar hangout reading his journals (“Nature, Communications... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-19 22:40:58
Gentzen oder: Betrunken aufräumen [Gentzen or Cleaning Up Drunk] (2021)
Dietmar Dath
In this work of modern literary fiction, the author appears as a character who is trying to write a novel about the mathematician Gerhard Gentzen. Together with two other colleagues, he tries to get... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-19 12:55:04
The Devious Weapon (1949)
M. C. Pease
This is a clever game-theoretic story about a man outwitting a formidable computing machine by doing almost nothing. Prince Kallin is the leader of the “League of Border States”, of which “the... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-16 20:24:30
Alexander's Infinity (2021)
Lidija Stankovikj
This novel describes the spiritual journey of "a middle-aged Scandinavian mathematician with a bent for the metaphysical" to India and Burma. I have not yet had a chance to read it, but the author has lived in India, Burma, and Sweden and holds a degree in mathematics, so she should at least know something about those aspects of the plot. (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-15 20:16:59
Night of the Eerie Equations (2015)
Robert Black
Another sequel to Night of the Paranormal Patterns about teenager Lennie Miller who solves middle-school mathematical problems for vampires, wizards, and other monsters. This time, she not only has to... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-12 14:43:40
The Fourth Quadrant (2011)
Dorothy Lumley
The story has some elements of mathematics built in. A ransom note coded into a ciphered message broken up on paper in 4 quadrants, Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, references to the Difference Engine.... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-12 14:32:12
Universe of Two (2020)
Stephen P. Kiernan
A novel about a mathematician who works on the Manhattan Project, focusing primarily on his ethical dilemma and his romance with an organist (who narrates every other chapter). The protagonist, Charlie... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-07 15:40:39
The Mobius Trail (1948)
George Smith
One Mr. Joseph Kingsley, after years of toiling and tooling, creates an electrical gadget which ends up acting very much like an open wormhole with both ends of the wormhole accessible, the kind you... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-05 21:45:42
Mathematical Doom (1936)
Paul Ernst
A detective, one Mr. Pearson, catches the crooks using a little geometry. As the story tagline says, “Crooks try to subtract a copper from life - and find he had added up a Mathematical Doom for... (more)
Last Changed: 2021-09-05 21:27:04

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)