a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Matrices (2016)
Steven Nightingale

One of 64 fantastical short stories in the collection "The Hot Climate of Promises and Grace", this one concerns a mathematician who fills matrices with real objects instead of numbers. The results are literally magical:

(quoted from Matrices)

To try this experiment, she put into a matrix, in place of numbers, real things from the world, things for which she had a certain affinity. For example, in one matrix she put parrots, old opera capes, excellent cigarettes, and cinnamon sticks. In another she put a deck of cards, a forest, bread and a bicycle.

Then, with the superb precision for which mathematicians are known, she fitted the matrices together to see what would come of it. And sure enough, right there in her study, she saw before her on the paper of her calculations, as in a vision, herself. She was in the forest practicing a bewildering yet harmonious series of circus tricks: wearing an operator cape, with a parrot on her shoulder, she did card tricks and smoked a cigarette with great relish, all as she rode around on a bicycle; only then to leap from the bicycle and begin to juggle cinnamon sticks.

Never had she felt so exuberantly mathematical.

More information about this work can be found at
(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 Matrices
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. What it Means When A Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
  2. Incomplete Proofs by John Chu
  3. Napier's Bones by Derryl Murphy
  4. Calculated Magic by Robert Weinberg
  5. Harvey Plotter and the Circle of Irrationality by Nathan Carter / Dan Kalman
  6. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
  7. After Math by Miriam Webster
  8. An Angel of Obedience by John Giessmann
  9. Mandelbrot the Magnificent by Liz Ziemska
  10. On Another Plane by Colin Adams
Ratings for Matrices:
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:
4/5 (1 votes)

GenreHumorous, Fantasy,
MotifFemale Mathematicians, Math as Beautiful/Exciting/Useful,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,
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)