a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree (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 up with an experimentalist who wants to test her theory of chronons. As their romance blossoms, they prove that time does not exist, generating fame, fortune, and tragedy.

This short story was one of the submissions to a request by Tor Publishing for stories based on a painting of a woman standing in front of an unusual tree. So, its first publication was in 2012 in the book "The Palencar Project". In this story, the tree appears as the apparently fractal geometric structure of the "instantiations of happenstance" in their theory. Interestingly, another short story based on the same picture is also mathematical: see The Sigma Structure Symphony.

The story is currently available for free at and was republished in the anthology "Not So Much Said the Cat" (2016).

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 The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Sigma Structure Symphony by Gregory Benford
  2. The God Patent by Ransom Stephens
  3. Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright
  4. Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence
  5. Axiom of Dreams by Arula Ratnakar
  6. Eye of the Beholder by Alex Kasman
  7. The Simplest Equation by Nicky Drayden
  8. The Outside by Ada Hoffman
  9. Emmy's Time by Anthony Bonato
  10. Arcadia by Iain Pears
Ratings for The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree:
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:
2/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifGenius, Prodigies, Academia, Female Mathematicians, Time Travel, Romance,
MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

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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)