
2+2=5 (2006) 
 Rudy Rucker / Terry Bisson 

A retired insurance adjuster and a math professor who was fired for telling his students that there are "holes" in the number line pass the time by trying to break a world record for counting. To achieve... (more) 


3adica (2018) 
 Greg Egan 

Sentient characters in a horrific video game combining Jack the Ripper and vampires seek to escape to another game called 3adica where things are strange but peaceful.
This is one of a series of stories... (more) 


Actuarial / The Paradox Paradox (2010) 
 Buzz Mauro 

These two extremely short stories by Mauro, part of his thesis project which consisted entirely of original works of mathematical fiction, appeared in the December 2010 issue of Prime Number Magazine.
Actuarial... (more) 


Adventure of the Final Problem (1893) 
 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

This first Sherlock Holmes story about Professor Moriarty (later to be
viewed as Holmes' arch enemy) introduces him as a professor of
mathematics who won fame as a young man for his extension of the
binomial... (more) 


And He Built a Crooked House (1940) 
 Robert A. Heinlein 

A clever architect designs a house in the shape of the shadow of a
tesseract, but it collapses (through
the 4th dimension) when an earthquake shakes it into a more stable form (which takes up very... (more) 



Art Thou Mathematics? (1978) 
 Charles Mobbs 

Short story (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, October 1978 Vol. 98 No 10) concerning the very nature of mathematical discovery. It was later rewritten in the form of a play, which the author has... (more) 


As Above, So Below (2009) 
 Rudy Rucker 

An LSD of a story  in typical Rucker style  where a computer programmer working with the Mandelbrot set is visited upon by a living UFO in the form of the Mset; the UFO named Ma explains to him how... (more) 


Astor Place Barber (2023) 
 Audrey Nasar 

A short piece that employs a humorous McGuffin to introduce the Barber's Paradox.
Both frequent site contributor Dr. Allan Goldberg and the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics think this is an example... (more) 


Aurora in Four Voices (1998) 
 Catherine Asaro 

Jato is trapped in Nightingale, a city in permanent
darkness, inhabited by mathematical artists who mostly ignore him. Soz
arrives to repair her ship, meets Jato, and finds... (more) 


The Babelogic of Mathematics (2023) 
 Vijay Fafat 

This is a creation myth for mathematics itself, incorporating the writing styles of both the Book of Genesis and Nasadiya Sukta. The author, it should be noted, is a frequent contributor to this website... (more) 


Back to Methuselah (1921) 
 George Bernard Shaw 

In this notverystageable play in five parts, Shaw expounds on
mankind and the theory of evolution, from Adam and Eve in the
Garden of Eden to a paradise world 30,000 years in the future.
It turns... (more) 


The Balloon Hoax (1844) 
 Edgar Allan Poe 

This is Poe's account of an alleged balloon trip to the
moon, in the spirit of the then infamous moon hoax. The
balloon rider describes the Earth as appearing concave when
5 miles up. Later,... (more) 


The Bishop Murder Case (1928) 
 S.S. van Dine (pseudonym of Willard Huntington Wright) 

Our hero, Vance, says at the end of this mystery novel: "At the outset I was able to postulate a mathematician as the criminal agent. The difficulty of naming the murderer lay in the fact that nearly... (more) 


BLIT (1988) 
 David Langford 

Goedelian incompleteness is encoded in graphic images that
kill viewers. A new kind of infoterrorism spreads.
Originally published in INTERZONE #25 Sept/Oct 1988.
See also a fake FAQ... (more) 


Blowups Happen (1940) 
 Robert A. Heinlein 

A mathematician discovers that his formulas predict that an important
new power station poses an extremely grave risk to humanity, and he
must convince others of the danger.
reprinted in THE PAST... (more) 


Border Guards (1999) 
 Greg Egan 

In a virtual universe shaped like a 3torus, free from disease and death, Jamil is easily depressed but enjoys playing a game of quantum soccer with his old friends, and one new friend. The new friend... (more) 


The Brady Kids (Episode: It's All Greek to Me) (1972) 
 Marc Richards (screenwriter) / Marc Richards (director) 

I had completely forgotten that there was a cartoon about the Brady Bunch until I ran across this while searching for mathematical fiction. But, it looks so familiar (the pet pandas, the cheesy animation,... (more) 


Bread & Kisses (2010) 
 Katherine Fitzgerald (writer and director) 

In this wonderful short film, a mathematician desperately trying to correct a hole in a proof falls in love with a baker. He uncharacteristically begins taking baking lessons from her but returns to... (more) 


The Brink of Infinity (1936) 
 Stanley G. Weinbaum 

A
mathematics professor is kidnapped by a madman with a grudge against
mathematicians, who threatens dire consequences unless the prof can
solve a math riddle he has concocted: by asking ten questions,... (more) 


The Brothers Karamazov (1880) 
 Fyodor Dostoevsky 

In this classic final masterwork by Dostoevsky, the existence of nonEuclidean geometry is mentioned at one point. Although the theme is not explicitly carried throughout the rest of the novel, it plays... (more) 


The Calculus of Love (2011) 
 Dan Clifton (Writer and Director) 

A professor who is obsessed with proving Goldbach's Conjecture challenges a class of graduate students to make any progress on it. But, is he truly motivated by a love of pure mathematics and its search... (more) 


The Call of Cthulhu (1928) 
 H.P. Lovecraft 

This is the most famous story by Lovecraft, which spawned it's own subgenre and
RPG,
called the Cthulhu Mythos. It concerns the investigations of Prof. Francis
Wayland Thurston
as he investigates... (more) 


The Cambist and Lord Iron (2007) 
 Daniel Abraham 

The story is set in a noname kingdom, seemingly medieval but with
certain modernisms. The cambist of the title is a minor worker, whose
daily routine is interrupted by Lord Iron, who has come to... (more) 


Cantor Trilogy (2015) 
 Harun Šiljak 

An intriguing short work of speculative fiction about a future in which nearly all mathematics research is conducted by computers. In fact, in the story, only one journal (The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics),... (more) 


Cantor’s Dragon (2014) 
 Craig DeLancy 

An absolutely fabulous tale of a man outwitting the devil, reminiscent of “The Devil and Simon Flagg” and in a very creative way. George Cantor, who has been hospitalized with mental exhaustion from... (more) 


The Central Tendency (2003) 
 Daniel Kaysen 

In the first portion of this short story, a teenager and the aunt who took her in when her parents died enjoy doing math together. However, when the girl begins to get advanced training from Cambridge... (more) 


The Chair of Philanthromathematics (1908) 
 O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) 

Jeff Peters and Andy Tucker, con men in
the O. Henry stories collected in this volume, are a bit
uncomfortable after scoring a really big scam. So they
... (more) 


The Circle of Zero (1936) 
 Stanley G. Weinbaum 

Thanks to Vijay Fafat for pointing out this story (with only a little math in it). A character speculates that the laws of probability predict that anything will happen in an infinite amount of time,... (more) 


Dalrymple’s Equation (1956) 
 Paul Fairman 

A tall tale about an alien “from Arva Majoris [...] a planet in a galaxy beyond the conception of [humanity’s] most brilliant minds.” . He’s taken on the name, “Tennyson Dalrymple” and uses... (more) 


Damned Souls and Statistics (2011) 
 Robert Dawson 

A statistician sells her soul to the devil in exchange for guaranteed tenure, but redeems herself by creating a cleverly useless confidence interval.
I like the part about the realization during her... (more) 


The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) 
 Robert Wise (director) / Harry Bates (story) / Edmund H. North 

One must wonder how aliens might communicate with humans when and if they arrive on Earth. In the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, the extraterrestrial Klaatu (Michael Rennie) introduces himself... (more) 


The Decimal People (2022) 
 Zachary Shiffman 

This short story is narrated by a math teacher who frequently utilizes mathematical terminology and notation in his musings on the human condition. A key metaphor throughout the story is the idea that... (more) 


Deterministic Republic (2021) 
 Kris H. Green 

The January 2021 issue of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics includes the article Aligning Political Options and Aggregated Personal Opinions on the Issues by Kris Green which introduces an alternative... (more) 



Division by Zero (1991) 
 Ted Chiang 

Answers the question: what would happen if we found out that
mathematics is inconsistent? This is a great piece of
mathematical fiction. (Thanks to Frank Chess who pointed it out to
me.)
Renee... (more) 


Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959) 
 Hamilton Luske (director) 

Disney's Donald Duck takes an adventure to a land where mathematics
"comes alive". (Animated short.)
I used this video in my 6th grade
classroom. The kids enjoyed watching
... (more) 


The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (1963) 
 Norton Juster 

This picture book describes the love story of two geometrical
figures. It was also made into a cartoon by Chuck Jones (available on YouTube).
I have loved this book ever since my wonderful
mathematical... (more) 


The Einstein SeeSaw (1932) 
 Miles J. Breuer 

This is another of the hyperspace stories by Miles Breuer. This time, a mathematical physicist discovers that mattter can be tossed around in and out of space(time) [see his papers, "A Preliminary Report... (more) 


An Episode of Flatland (1907) 
 Charles H. Hinton 

Hinton, whose biography is a
little too weird for me to believe and whose essays on the fourth dimension
(see for example A New
Era of Thought) leave me wondering how much he really believed that the
fourth... (more) 


Euclid and His Modern Rivals (1879) 
 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) 

I have long known that mathematician Charles Dodgson, who wrote the famous Alice stories under the pseudonym "Lewis Carroll", also wrote a book defending Euclid's ancient text as the best for teaching... (more) 


Euler's Equation (2019) 
 Neil Hudson 

There are certain things in life which strike people as proof of existence of a transcendent power, a mystical presence of something beyond the mundane laws of the sciences. To some, Euler’s equation... (more) 




The Feeling of Power (1957) 
 Isaac Asimov 

An advanced society rediscovers the joys
of multipying numbers BY HAND, a forgotten art. It's a
gem.
The
author probably did not realize how quickly the premise of this story
(people so dependent... (more) 


Feigenbaum Number (1995) 
 Nancy Kress 

A postdoc who perceives reality different than other people (he sees something like the Platonic ideals people ought to be) works with a professor on combining chaos theory with particle physics. I'm... (more) 


Fermat's Best Theorem (1995) 
 Janet Kagan 

A student comes up with what appears to be a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. So, she gives it to her professor hoping that he will find a mistake in it (see below). It turns out that the professor is... (more) 


The FifthDimension Catapult (1931) 
 Murray Leinster 

This short novel, originally published in the January 1931 ASTOUNDING,
and republished by Damon Knight in SCIENCE FICTION OF THE 30'S (1975),
involves a mathematical physicist whose theories get applied... (more) 


Final Exam (2011) 
 Robert Dawson 

A math professor nearing retirement and displeased with trends in academia decides to use his final exam (the last he will ever give) to get his revenge on the cheating students in his calculus class.... (more) 


Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884) 
 Edwin Abbott Abbott 

This is the classic example of mathematical fiction in which
the author helps us to think about the meaning of "dimension" through
fictional example: a visit to a world with only two spatial
dimensions.... (more) 


The FourColor Problem (1971) 
 Barrington J. Bayley 

A story written in a psychedelic, streamofconsciousness style a la William S. Burroughs concerning the discovery of previously unknown countries on the Earth whose existence provides a counterexample... (more) 


The FourthDimensional Demonstrator (1935) 
 Murray Leinster 

Uses the fourth dimension as geewhiz terminology to explain
a matter duplicator/unduplicator. Includes a tesseract.
But if you ignore the story's explanation involving time as
... (more) 


Fractions (2011) 
 Buzz Mauro 

A math teacher realizes that the father of one of his students is a man with whom he has had an anonymous sexual relationship. There is some discussion of math education in general, and about hypothetical... (more) 



Funes el Memorioso [Funes, His Memory] (1942) 
 Jorge Luis Borges 

Borges' short story piece, “Funes, His Memory' (or in other translations, “Funes, The Memorious”) discusses the phenomenal memory of an acquaintance, Ireneo Funes. Funes, at age nineteen,... (more) 


Futility (1929) 
 Sterner St. Paul Meek (S.P. Meek) 

There is an old folk story, “The Appointment in Samarra”, in which a man sees Death in a market in Baghdad and flees to Samarra to escape its clutches, only to find that his appointment with Death... (more) 


G103 (2006) 
 Oliver Tearne (director) 

This short film "shows a surreal day in the life of a mathematics undergraduate" taking the math course G103 at the University of Warwick. In fact, the Website makes it sound as if it is an informational... (more) 



The Genius (1901) 
 Nikolai Georgievich GarinMikhailovskii 

The Russian Engineer N.G. Mikhailovskii (18521906) was also an accomplished author using the pseudonym "N.G. Garin". His short story, "The Genius", tells about an Jewish man who fills his notebooks with... (more) 


Geometria (1987) 
 Guillermo del Toro (Writer and Director) 

A boy whose father has died and who is in danger of failing his math class summons a demon, asking him to reunite his family and to ensure that he never fails geometry again. Both wishes are granted,... (more) 



The Geometry of Love (1966) 
 John Cheever 

An engineer is inspired by a passing truck from "Euclid's Dry Cleaning" to apply geometric principles to his own marital problems. He finds that interpreting his family as a triangle has the advantage... (more) 


Getting Rid of Fluff (1908) 
 Ellis Parker Butler 

A humorous story in which two men formulate a mathematical "law of scared dogs" to help in frightening away an annoying dog named Fluff.
"I bet if Sir Isaac Newon had had Fluff as long as you have had... (more) 


Ghost Days (2013) 
 Ken Liu 

This short story begins with a very short computer program that computes the Fibonacci numbers which a young student is learning in school. The teacher is one of the human crew of a space ship and the... (more) 


The Gigantic Fluctuation (1973) 
 Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky 

This is an oddly funny story about a man who becomes the "focus point of all miracles in the world", a "gigantic fluctuation". He somehow appears to attract extremely improbably but possible statistical... (more) 


The Gimatria of Pi (2004) 
 Lavie Tidhar 

More ``numerology'' than mathematics, this short story is based on the idea that the decimal expansion of π has predictive value. For example, it is portrayed as predicting the assassination of Yitzhak... (more) 


Glory (2007) 
 Greg Egan 

The story talks about a xenomathematician's quest to understand hieroglyphic tablets on an alien planet containing the mathematical knowledge of an extinct civilization. The extinct aliens had apparently... (more) 


The GoldBug (1843) 
 Edgar Allan Poe 

Not only does this very famous Poe story contain a (very little) bit of mathematics in the form of a probabilistic approach to cryptography and a geometric description of the treasure hunt on the ground... (more) 


Gödel Incomplete (2013) 
 Martha Goddard (Writer and Director) 

A 21st century physicist repeatedly travels back in time for short visits to the 20th century as a result of her experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. For completely unexplained reasons, she always... (more) 


Hajime's Algorithm (2017) 
 Mihara Kazuto 

A bitter old mathematician discovers a young prodigy while visiting the little Japanese island where he grew up in this ten volume manga series that ran from 20172020.
Uchida Yutaka is a mathematician... (more) 


Hard Times (1853) 
 Charles Dickens 

A suggestion for a novel to be added to your website Mathematical Fiction:
In Charles Dickens's "Hard Times", poor schoolgirl Sissy Jupe is struggling in an educational system
that is obsessed... (more) 


i (2005) 
 Paul Evanby 

A computer programmer meets a composer who is trying to incorporate complex numbers into musical theory:
I nodded slowly, and pointed at the other screen. “What about that?”
He pursed his lips.... (more) 


L' idée fixe du Savant Cosinus (1899) 
 Christophe  Georges Colomb 

This humorous and profusely illustrated French book is considered to be an early example of what we might today call a "comic book".
Cosinus is a mathematician who
desperately wants to travel around... (more) 


The Ifth of Oofth (1957) 
 Walter Trevis 

[This] is a short, zany, talltale reminiscent of Heinlein's "And He Built A Crooked House". Someone ends up making a 3dimensional, unfolded projection of a 5dimensional hypercube, a Penteract. The... (more) 


In Good King Charles's Golden Days (1939) 
 George Bernard Shaw 

Considered by many to be Shaw's worst play, this late example of his
witty writing may be of special interest to visitors to this site. It
takes place at the home of Sir Isaac Newton where he is joined... (more) 


Inquirendo Island (1886) 
 Hudor Genone 

A very long, thinly disguised satire on sectarian splits in Religion, fairly nicely written. A man lost at sea is shipwrecked on an island called “Inquirendo Island”, probably a sarcastic... (more) 


Inside Out (1987) 
 Rudy Rucker 

The story itself is quite disturbing IMO but has the usual zaniness of his other writings. Features quarks as "hypertoroidal vortex rings/loops of superstring", a "cumberquark", "hypertorii with fuzzy... (more) 


The Jester and the Mathematician (2000) 
 Alan R. Gordon 

A short historical fiction piece involving Leonardo of Pisa ("Fibonacci"). Interesting story which features Fibonacci talking briefly about his rabbitseries/sequence, his abacusduel with Pisa's foremost... (more) 


The Judge's House (1914) 
 Bram Stoker 

A math student seeks a quiet place to study for his exams but winds up battling an angry ghost. Stoker certainly knew mathematical words to throw around (e.g. quaternions and conic sections), but this... (more) 


Kavanagh (1849) 
 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

In the fourth chapter of this novel by the famous poet, the school teacher of the title tries to convince his skeptical wife that mathematics can be poetic by reading to her from Lilavati.
(This one chapter was published separately as Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, 3 (1855), pages 257—62, and so I will consider it both as a short story and as an excerpt from a novel.) (more) 


Kim Possible (Episode: Mathter and Fervent) (2007) 
 Jim Peronto (script) 

This episode of the Disney animated TV series "Kim Possible" is a comic book parody featuring a mathematical villain.
As an English assignment, Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable have to write a paper... (more) 


Ladies' Night (2017) 
 Robert Dawson 

A card sharp known as "Lady Jane" attempts to swindle a statistician visiting Las Vegas for a conference. The plot twists and turns as it mentions things like the Monty Hall Problem, Game Theory, and... (more) 


Let's Consider Two Spherical Chickens (2016) 
 Tommaso Bolognesi 

Although it takes the form of a murder mystery, Bolognesi's "Let's Consider Two Spherical Chickens" really is more of an essay than a work of fiction. Like the other chapters from the collection in which... (more) 


Letters From Incompleteness (2021) 
 Jonah Howell 

This creative work of fiction takes the form of love letters from an unidentified narrator who has become obsessed with Kurt Gödel and his incompleteness theorems.
Some of the discussion of Gödel's... (more) 


The Lost Books of the Odyssey (2008) 
 Zachary Mason 

The introduction to this novel is a work of pseudoscholarship, explaining how the chapters to follow were decoded by an NSA cryptographer with the help of the author. The intro contains references to... (more) 


The Lottery in Babylon [La lotería en Babilonia] (1941) 
 Jorge Luis Borges 

In what is clearly a metaphor for the apparent randomness of life (and the theological implications that follow), the great Argentinian writer Borges crafts a tale about the all important lottery in a... (more) 


Love and a Triangle (1899) 
 Stanley Waterloo 

Julius Corbett, a man of fortune, is in love with an extraordinary woman, Nell Morrison, who is an astronomer. She has a particular penchant for Mars, an in particular, is trying to solve the problem... (more) 


The Mad Mathematician (from ITV's Junior Maths) (1984) 
 ITV Schools 

Each episode of Junior Maths, a British children's TV program that was part of ITV Schools, featured a story about "The Mad Mathematician". For example, in this episode (currently available on YouTube),... (more) 


The Masters (1963) 
 Ursula K. Le Guin 

This short story, which takes place in a world where society is medieval and the sun is seen less than once per year, focuses on the mathematical advances brought about by the primary protagonist, Ganil.... (more) 


Mathemagics (1990) 
 Patricia Duffy Novak 

Kyria despises math and hates the fact that she is required to learn vector calculus at Salem University where she is studying magic. So, she determines to go back in time to learn how the ancient wizards... (more) 


Mathematical Revelations (2021) 
 Helen De Cruz 

Like others in her culture, Priestess Kayla works on mathematical proofs and hopes to receive a message from her creator, the Supreme Mathematician :
I have never had a Mathematical Revelation in my... (more) 



The Mathematicians (1953) 
 Arthur Feldman 

A father tells his daughter of an invasion of the Earth by aliens who were "the greatest mathematicians in the galaxy":
"Go on, papa. These beings overran all Earth. Go on from there."
"You must... (more) 


Maths on a Plane (2008) 
 P T 

This story, about a student flirting with the attractive woman in the seat next to him on a plane, won the student category of the 2008 New Writers Award from Cambridge University's ``Plus+ Magazine''.... (more) 


Merlin Planet (1968) 
 E.G. Von Wald 

A lovely tale which merges mathematics / logic systems and magic to a satisfying conclusion. And what a great hook of a tagline in the story! “On Arrey, you could survive  as a frog. Unless you could... (more) 


Mersenne's Mistake (2008) 
 Jason Earls 

This is a nice piece of mathematical fiction in which the mathematician/monk Marin Mersenne encounters a demon with amazing mathematical skills. Like the other stories by Earls, this seems to be designed to showcase the interesting numbers which he has found using computer algebra tools.
(more) 


Message Found in a Copy of Flatland (1983) 
 Rudy Rucker 

This is the story that answers the age old question: "What if Flatland was in the basement of a Pakistani restaurant in London?".
The answer is scarier than you might think, especially when you
realize... (more) 


Mimsy Were the Borogoves (1943) 
 Lewis Padgett (aka Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore) 

Far in the future, humans have not only improved their digestive tracts
(eliminating the appendix and shortening their large intestine) and invented a time machine, but they have also invented educational
toys... (more) 


Moby Dick (1851) 
 Herman Melville 

I honestly had no idea that there was anything mathematical about this classic novel until Allan Goldberg suggested I look at Sara Hart's article on the subject in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.
Of... (more) 


Monday Begins on Saturday (1966) 
 Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky 

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... (more) 


The Monty Hall Problem (2021) 
 Rebekah Bergman 

The narrator compares situations in dating life with the choices presented in classic puzzle games like the Monty Hall Problem. She is currently in a relationship with a man with 3 dogs who loves cereal,... (more) 


Mortal Immortal (1833) 
 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley 

This fantasy story by the author of Frankenstein, about a man who drinks a half dose of a potion that bestows immortality, is only borderline mathematical fiction. The only arguably mathematical part... (more) 


Morte di un matematico napoletano (1992) 
 Mario Martone (director) 

"This movie describes the last day in [the] life of a
famous Italian mathematician: Renato Caccioppoli. He was a fascinating and
discussed person in Naples' political and cultural life. [A] member... (more) 


Mrs. Warren's Profession (1894) 
 George Bernard Shaw 

This is Shaw's notorious play about poverty and prostitution, the
"profession" of the title. (The play itself was not performed in
public in the UK until 1925.)
Mrs. Warren has made her fortune... (more) 


Ms Fnd in a Lbry (1961) 
 Hal Draper 

Hal Draper took a break from his life's work of promoting Marxism,
and wrote one science fiction story. The information explosion, and
associated storage and retrieval problems, is humorously examined
in... (more) 



Musgrave Ritual (1893) 
 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

A tiny bit of mathematics is used by Sherlock Holmes
to solve this mystery. In it, he ties together the disappearance of a
housemaid, the discovery of the dead body of the chief butler and a strange
poem... (more) 


Narrow Valley (1966) 
 R.A. Lafferty 

This is a madcap story about a tract of land which is topologically folded through a shamanic incantation. Contains descriptions of some physical effects but explicitly states that the topological defect... (more) 


Nena's Math Force (2005) 
 Susan Jarema 

This picture book for children, which is available for free online and also in print, tells the story of a girl who is upset when her math teacher requires the class to do arithmetic without a calculator.... (more) 


A New Golden Age (1981) 
 Rudy Rucker 

In this story, and in our world as well, mathematicians lament the
fact that legislators cannot sufficiently appreciate mathematics and
that this adversely affects the funding of their science. To address
this... (more) 


No Chance (2001) 
 Guy Hasson 

While playing poker, a math professor and a biology professor discuss the manyworlds interpretation of quantum physics, with the mathematician offering what he sees as a mathematical argument proving... (more) 



Not a Chance (2009) 
 Peter Haff 

A student harangues his physics professor about the possibility that all mathematical proofs are incorrect. His argument is based on the supposed uncertainty about the validity of proofs of the Four Color... (more) 


Notes from the Underground (1864) 
 Fyodor Dostoevsky 

Part I
involves an unnamed rather crazed and unreliable narrator
(generally known as "the Underground Man") raving and rambling
against life, the universe, and everything. A few... (more) 


An Old Arithmetician (1885) 
 Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman 

The title character of this short story, which appeared in the September 1885 issue of Harper's Weekly, is an old, uneducated woman who loves computing (with chalk and slate):
You have always been very... (more) 


On the Occasion Of Your Graduation (2011) 
 Robert Dawson 

A thesis advisor entrusts his Ph.D. student with the responsibility of determining what to do with his discovery that mathematics contains inconsistencies.
This is one of several works of fiction that... (more) 



The One Best Bet [Flashlight] (1911) 
 Samuel Hopkins Adams 

“Average Jones” is a collection of eleven tales of detection, solved by a very smart, young man, Mr. Jones. His catchy alias came about because “his parents had foredoomed him to it when they furnished... (more) 


Oracle (2000) 
 Greg Egan 

The protagonist, Robert Stoney is a british mathematician who worked on German codes during WW II, was greatly affected by the death of a close friend, and was later persecuted for his homosexuality. ... (more) 


Our Feynman Who Art in Heaven... (2007) 
 Paul Di Filippo 

A religious cult based on the Standard Model (of high energy physics)
has its headquarters in a tesseract.
This story, which is certainly more physical than mathematical, appears in the "Plumage from Pegasus" column in the February 2007 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction and is available for free at their website.
(more) 


Our Lady, Queen of Undecidable Propositions (2016) 
 Hugh C Culik 

A story that uses math as both a language and a metaphor for a poetic discussion of the human condition involving a Catholic priest.
Published in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Volume 6 Issue 2 (July 2016), pages 230240.
The math in this story is questionable, at best.
(more) 


The Outer Limits (Episode: Behold, Eck!) (1964) 
 John Mantley (screenplay) / William R. Cox (story) 

In this episode of the classic science fiction series Outer Limits, a 2dimensional being trapped in our world is aided by Dr. Stone, an engineer described as being an expert in "optical geometry" and... (more) 



Pi in the Sky (1983) 
 Rudy Rucker 

The story is about a family which finds an alien artifact on a beach while on vacation: a smooth cone with patterns of stripes on its surface and which produces sound in the same pattern. It turns out... (more) 


The Plattner Story (1896) 
 Herbert George Wells 

Gottfrieb Plattner disappears after an explosion for nine days.
Upon return, he recounts a strange tale of a parallel world.
More mathematically interesting, he discovers that he is now
lefthanded,... (more) 


The Power of Words (1845) 
 Edgar Allan Poe 

A very short work (twopages long!) in
which two angels discuss the divine implications of our ability to
mathematically determine the future consequences of an action, especially
wave propagation.... (more) 


Presque Vue (2021) 
 Tochi Onyebuchi 

A character deals with the voice in her head (which seems to like to do math), her aging parents, and her daughter.
I am grateful to Aidan Tompkins for bringing this short story to my attention, but... (more) 


Prime (2013) 
 Steve Erickson 

Because he is jealous of the relative success of colleagues he considers his intellectual inferiors, a mathematician kidnaps a celebrity to learn the numerical secret of fame.
The kidnapper in this... (more) 


Probabilitea (2019) 
 John Chu 

When it said at the beginning of this story that "Katie’s father...is a physical manifestation of Order and Chaos," I presumed at first it meant that metaphorically. In fact, it means that Katie's... (more) 


The Problem of Cell 13 (1907) 
 Jacques Futrelle 

"The story which introduces Professor S. F. X. van Dusen,
professional scientific supergenius, who lends his talents
to solving baffling mysteries. He is described as primarily
... (more) 


Professor Morgan's Moon (1899) 
 Stanley Waterloo 

A young mathematician asks for the hand of a senior mathematician's beautiful (and clever) daughter, but is refused on the grounds that his inability to support her financially was a mathematical certainty.... (more) 


Proof by Induction (2021) 
 José Pablo Iriarte 

Paul Gifford is a waitingfortenure professor of mathematics at a university. His father, a professoremiritus of mathematics at the same university has just passed away. This death has come at a very... (more) 


The Purloined Letter (1844) 
 Edgar Allan Poe 

"This is the third and last C. Auguste Dupin mystery. The
Prefect of Paris police explains a very delicate situation
to Dupin, involving a royal letter whose possession grants
its bearer great... (more) 


Quarantine (1977) 
 Arthur C. Clarke 

For safety's sake, all organic life on the planet Earth has been
wiped out by automatic defenses. The investigator looking into
this regrettable turn of affairs in an otherwise promising species
discovers... (more) 


Question 3 (2016) 
 Martin Sandahl (Director and Writer) 

A short film about a boy with Asperger's Syndrome who competes in the International Mathematical Olympiad. However, neither the mathematical problems nor the boy's success in the competition is the main... (more) 


The Rapture of the Nerds (2004) 
 Cory Doctorow / Charles Stross 

This story is set in Stross's "Accelerando" series,
due for publication in novel form in 2005, offering
a worm's eye view of the "Vinge singularity", the
supposed moment in the coming decades... (more) 


Reading by Numbers (2009) 
 Aidan Doyle 

Elementary number theory and some superstitious numerology underlie this story, which appeared in the November 11, 2009 issue of the online Fantasy Magazine (though I would never describe this story as... (more) 


Recess (Episode: A Genius Among Us) (2000) 
 Brian Hamill 

This episode of Disney's Saturday Morning cartoon "Recess" is clearly a parody of the film "Good Will Hunting". I hope this doesn't lower anyone's opinion of me...but I personally liked it better than... (more) 


The Remarkable Case of Davidson's Eyes (1895) 
 Herbert George Wells 

Rather than seeing what is actually around him in England, Davidson sees
events occurring on a rock off of the Antipodes Island. The explanation
offered includes the notion of nonflat geometries for... (more) 


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) 


Riding the Crocodile (2005) 
 Greg Egan 

A couple from the race of “Amalgam” wanted to carry out one project before choosing to die after a life spanning tens of thousands of years: Establishing contact with the elusive race called... (more) 


The Robot's Math Lessons (2019) 
 Yoon Ha Lee 

In this very short story, intentionally incorrect mathematical formulas result in an unusual friendship between a servitor and a human child.
The story was posted as free "flash fiction" on the author's website and was published by Simon and Schuster in 2019 in an anthology of stories that take place in the same universe as Ninefox Gambit.
(more) 



Round the Moon (1870) 
 Jules Verne 

This early science fiction novel about space travel (published originally in French, of course) contains two chapters with explicit (and very nice) mathematical content.
In Chapter 4 (A Little Algebra)... (more) 


The Rubbish Researchers Puzzle (2018) 
 Michael W. Lucht 

Thanks to Dr. Allan Goldberg for bringing to my attention this humorous short story about a math professor hiding in a New Zealand pub from an angry looking mob of blueeyed Pacific Islanders.
It concerns... (more) 


Rucker  A Life Fractal by Eli Halberstam (1991) 
 John Allen Paulos 

Like Lem's De Impossibilitate Vitae and Prognoscendi , this is a work of fiction that takes the form of a book review. (As Paulos explains in his introduction, "Reviewing [a] book which hasn't been written... (more) 


Say Wen (1930) 
 Ellis Parker Butler 

If you have a story’s tagline as...
“I assure you that I am not an unduly formal woman, but I consider it decidedly undignified for a dean of a coeducational college to hold a Professor of Higher... (more) 


The Secret Number (2000) 
 Igor Teper 

In this very cute story, a mathematician who believes that there is an integer between 3 and 4 tries to convince his psychiatrist that he is not crazy. The idea is not very deep, but it is well handled... (more) 


A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions (1991) 
 Kim Stanley Robinson 

This work of speculative fiction is not a traditional work of fiction with a plot and characters, but reads more like an essay about the chaotic nature of reality which includes some alternative histories... (more) 


She Spies (Episode: Message from Kassar) (2003) 
 Vince Manze (script) / Joe Livecchi (script) / Steven Long Mitchell (script) 

Although I lived in the US and had a TV in 2003, I somehow completely missed “She Spies”. I had no idea such a show existed. And so, while watching this episode to see whether it really is “mathematical... (more) 


The Sigma Structure Symphony (2012) 
 Gregory Benford 

This story about humans in the distant future communicating with alien intelligences contains a lot of familiar ideas and some interesting new ones.
Ruth Angle is an employee at the SETI library on... (more) 


Silas P. Cornu's Dry Calculator (1898) 
 Henry Hering 

A very hilarious short story about a man who wants to build a mechanical calculator to evaluate logarithms but has success building a machine that can do only addition and multiplication. On the other... (more) 


The Simplest Equation (2014) 
 Nicky Drayden 

Mariah is a Stanford University math major who has lost her interest in the subject of mathematics. She is initially annoyed when Kwalla takes the seat next to hers in class. Kwalla is an alien with... (more) 


Singleton (2002) 
 Greg Egan 

This story involves a physicist and a mathematician who have a child  well, sort of  that they have specially designed to remain in a "classical" state (as opposed to a quantum superposition of states)... (more) 


The Sirdar's ChessBoard (1885) 
 Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer 

A military bride travelling in Afghanistan is surprised when a mystic is able to cut up a chess board ("with three snips of my scissors") and put it back together so that the number of squares has increased... (more) 



Space (1911) 
 John Buchan 

This mystical story, as recounted by a lawyer, is about a brilliant mathematician ("an erratic genius who had written some articles in Mind on that dreary subject, the mathematical conception of infinity",... (more) 


The Spacetime Pool (2008) 
 Catherine Asaro 

Janelle, recently graduated from MIT with a degree in math, is pulled through the "branch cut" between two universes to an alternate Earth where two sword wielding brothers rule half the world. There,... (more) 


The Square Root of Pythagoras (1999) 
 Paul Di Filippo/Rudy Rucker 

Pythagoras has been granted the magical power of five numbers.
Along the way he discusses his theorem, the five Platonic solids,
and his general philosophy about numbers and the universe. But
he... (more) 


Squate (2022) 
 Tom Blackford 

In this cute story, a thirteen year old girl becomes good friends with the square root of eight. From "Squate", she learns not only facts about math but also things about other people who are working... (more) 


Star, Bright (1952) 
 Mark Clifton 

How would you feel if your daughter could make deep mathematical
discoveries, even when she was a toddler? If you were the parent of
little Star in this story, you'd feel a combination of pride and... (more) 


The Story of Yung Chang (1900) 
 Ernest Bramah (Ernest Bramah Smith) 

Before the invention of multiplication tables, a Chinese idol merchant must
sell his wares individually, even if someone wishes to purchase a large
amount, since he has no way to determine how much money... (more) 


Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893) 
 Lewis Carroll 

The sequel to his somewhat popular book "Sylvie and Bruno" never
achieved the popularity of the original. This lack of success may or
may not be related to Chapter VII (entitled "Mein Herr") of the... (more) 


The Siege Of The "Lancashire Queen" (1906) 
 Jack London 

Describes how the capture of illegal shrimppoachers becomes a problem of triangular geometry and relative speeds of chase. In particular, the pirates, trapped on a ship, the chasing posse and the point... (more) 


Tiger by the Tail (1951) 
 A.G. Nourse 

A pocketbook contains a gateway to another universe, and a group of unlikely heroes tries to save ours from the aliens there by reaching in and grabbing it.
This is a cute short story, with a notparticularlysound... (more) 


The Time Axis (1949) 
 Henry Kuttner 

This was published as an Ace paperback in 1965. I don't think I have a copy of the paperback in my collection, but I have the original magazine publication, in the January 1949 issue of Startling Stories.... (more) 


The Time Machine (1895) 
 Herbert George Wells 

This famous early science fiction novel opens with a clever (and, if you
think ahead to the role of Minkowski Space in special relativity,
prophetic) lecture on "the fourth dimension". Of course, discussions... (more) 


Topsyturvy (Sans Dessus Dessous) (1889) 
 Jules Verne 

The members of the Gun Club want to use a giant cannon's recoil to change the Earth's rotation axis, so they can exploit the presumed coalfields at the North Pole. An unfortunate side effect is that... (more) 


The Turing Enigma (2011) 
 Peter Wild (Screenwriter and Director) 

Maths professor Jonah Block finds himself in possession of a 50 year old postcard from Alan Turing over which people have been killed. He quickly realizes it is the (literal) key to decoding a series... (more) 


Turing's Apples (2008) 
 Stephen Baxter 

Story about a faraway civilization transmitting a complex message in all directions, containing a software program (“Turing machine”) which ends up creating von Neumann machines with one... (more) 


Twentyseven Uses for Imaginary Numbers (2009) 
 Buzz Mauro 

A teenage boy's discovery of the joys of Euler's formula coincides with the awakening of his homosexual desires. The author's mathematical understanding is very good, and the story reminded me of young... (more) 


The Universal Library [Die Universalbibliothek] (1901) 
 Kurd Lasswitz 

This early "science fiction" story explores the notion of a library containing every possible five hundred page book and an English translation appears in the classic mathematical fiction collection Fantasia... (more) 


Unreasonable Effectiveness (2003) 
 Alex Kasman 

"Unreasonable Effectiveness" reminds me of a classic Arthur C. Clarke style
short story. It has exactly enough mathematics done correctly and a twist that
boggles the mind at the end. To be fair... (more) 


Until Tomorrow, Then (2010) 
 Shaun Hamill (writer and director) 

A short film about a young mathematician obsessed with working out the "rate the universe is running down" so that he can determine time that the universe will end.
One of the two other characters... (more) 


The Valley of Fear (1916) 
 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

Having introduced Sherlock Holmes' most famous enemy, Professor
Moriarty, as a mathematician in an earlier
story, Doyle provides us with just a small glimpse of his
mathematical genius (as opposed to... (more) 


Vanishing Point (1959) 
 C.C. Beck 

The short story is another take on the true nature of reality and one man's quest to unmask it. It is more an idea piece than a fullfledged development. An artist, Carter, who is a trained mathematician... (more) 


A Victim of Higher Space (1917) 
 Algernon Blackwood 

This is another of the John Silence talltales, this time involving a man who learns to visualize 4dimensional space and then starts slipping in and out of the hyperspace. As he describes it,
"This... (more) 


War and Peace (1869) 
 Lev Tolstoy 

Tolstoy's famous novel about...well, about war and peace (!) contains long passages explaining an analogy he makes between history and calculus. In particular, he argues that we should view history as... (more) 


We (1924) 
 Yevgeny Zamyatin 

Like 1984, We is a book about a utopia gone wrong. In fact, it is acknowledged as a source which Orwell used when writing his more famous dystopian novel. (We was written in Russian in 1921, published... (more) 


What Are the Odds? (2006) 
 Justin Spitzer (writer) / Matthew Tritt (director) 

Two extremely nerdy strangers who keep running into each other in New York City are surprised to learn that they both "study applied mathematics" and are attending the same conference on "stochastic processes... (more) 


What the Revolution Requires (2020) 
 Timons Esaias 

A minimalist short story in which an author seeks to write a ground breaking work of mathematical fiction:
Raymond had several plotlines laid out, all their steps organized and ready. He intended to... (more) 


What the Tortoise Said to Achilles (1895) 
 Lewis Carroll 

A very short dialoguestory, where the Tortoise teaches Achilles that in the strictest sense of Logic, the process of inference from even 2 propositions to an almost automaticallyimplied third proposition... (more) 


The Woman Who Shook the WorldTree (2012) 
 Michael Swanwick 

A mathematical prodigy (she derived her own version of calculus to compute volumes when she was only seven years old, and by age 18 she had three PhD.s, including one in a field she had invented) teams... (more) 


Zilkowski's Theorem (2003) 
 Karl Iagnemma 

This is a story of a love triangle with a definite mathematical twist. Henderson's roommate, Czogloz, steals away his girlfriend, Milla, when all three were math graduate students. Years later, seeking... (more) 
