a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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E-Z Calculus [Calculus by Discovery] (1982)
Douglas Downing

"E-Z Calculus", which was previously published under the titles "Calculus the Easy Way" and "Calculus by Discovery", aims to teach the fundamentals of calculus through the adventures of a man who has washed ashore in the mystic land of Carmorra. It seems that the people there are always faced with difficult mathematical problems that they discuss and solve by independently inventing the notions of differential and integral calculus, and our "hero" always seems to be able to guide them to an answer. In this way, the reader can feel a part of discovering calculus rather than just reading about it in its final form. Plus, the inclusion of kings and giants could also serve to make this "novel" more engrossing than your average calculus textbook. I can only barely bring myself to call this a "novel" however. In fact, it is neither a novel nor a collection of short stories but instead is really a textbook (even including end of section exercises) that uses the fictional setting of Carmorra much as another textbook might mention a farmer building a fence or a plane flying over a radar station. IMHO although there is a common fictional setting that runs throughout the textbook, this is not really a work of fiction in the usual sense of that word as it lacks an overall plot and character development.

(There are other books in the series like "E-Z Algebra" and "E-Z Statistics", all of which seem to take place in Carmorra.)

I am grateful to Hauke Reddmann for for rediscovering this book for me. In fact, I found it myself back in 1996 before I was interested in mathematically-flavored fiction. I ran across it in a university library and gave some thought to whether it would be useful as an educational tool. Then, a few years later when I started compiling this list, I had already forgotten the title and author and was unable to locate it until Hauke sent me a link to a posting about it this afternoon. Thanks, Hauke!

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to E-Z Calculus [Calculus by Discovery]
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Rose Acacia by Ralph P. Boas, Jr.
  2. Cantor’s Dragon by Craig DeLancy
  3. Let's Consider Two Spherical Chickens by Tommaso Bolognesi
  4. The Parrot's Theorem by Denis Guedj
  5. The Gnome and the Pearl of Wisdom: A Fable by Richard Willmott
  6. The Number Devil [Der Zahlenteufel] by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
  7. Los relatos de Gudor Ben Jusá: Cuentos y consejas con algo de matemáticas más son pocas y de las viejas by Juan de Burgos Román
  8. Kandelman's Krim: A Realistic Fantasy by John Lighton Synge
  9. Prime Suspects: The Anatomy of Integers and Permutations by Andrew Granville / Jennifer Granville / Robert J. Lewis (Illustrator)
  10. The Raven and the Writing Desk by Ian T. Durham
Ratings for E-Z Calculus [Calculus by Discovery]:
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:
5/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
1/5 (1 votes)

GenreFantasy, Didactic,
TopicAnalysis/Calculus/Differential, Real Mathematics,

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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)