a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Equations of Life (2011)
Simon Morden

To escape from his life in organized crime, the protagonist creates a fake identity as a physics student named Samuil Petrovich. Though he has made an incredible discovery in theoretical physics, Petrovich is drawn back into the underworld when he rescues the daughter of a Japanese tech mogul. Together with a warrior nun and a crusty police officer, he must save London from a rogue AI.

I bought this SF novel at a used book store because the cover suggested it would be mathematical fiction. The back cover says things like:

(quoted from Equations of Life)

He's lived this long because he's a man of rules and logic. For example,

getting involved=a bad idea.

But when he stumbles into a kidnapping in progress he acts without even thinking. Before he can stop himself, he's saved the daughter of the most dangerous man in London. And clearly,

saving the girl=getting involved.

Now, the equation of Petrovich's life is looking increasingly complex.

Russian mobsters+Yakuza+something called the New Machine Jihad=One dead Petrovich.

But, I was disappointed at how irrelevant math is for the most part. There are some scenes showing him working on a theory of quantum gravity with his colleague Pif where he says things like "The limits on that integral should be minus infinity to infinity, not one to infinity. It's a wave form." And the narration refers to mathematics when it says things like:

(quoted from Equations of Life)

Something was falling out of the mass of complex mathematics, something that a he didn't recognize but which carried the elegance and beauty of true meaning.

He stared sat the final line. Now that he was done, he felt growing doubt. Pif would look at it and laugh. It wasn't that he was terrible at math, just that he wasn't as good as she was. She only had to look at an equation to taste its use and quality.

There is one brief reference to Fermat's Last Theorem. But, really all of this is essentially irrelevant to the plot aside from the idea that Samuil and Pif have made some important discovery in physics that he may not live long enough to see to fruition.

Perhaps the sequels (Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom) have more math in them. But, I didn't enjoy this one enough to want to seek them out. If you've read them and can tell me one way or the other, please write to let me know.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to Equations of Life
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang
  2. Critical Point by S.L. Huang
  3. Null Set by S.L. Huang
  4. The Fear Index by Robert Harris
  5. The God Wave by Patrick Hemstreet
  6. Arcadia by Iain Pears
  7. Improbable by Adam Fawer
  8. White Rabbit, Red Wolf [This Story is a Lie] by Tom Pollock
  9. The Anomaly [L'Anomalie] by Hervé Le Tellier
  10. The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke / Frederik Pohl
Ratings for Equations of Life:
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:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction, Adventure/Espionage,
MotifFemale Mathematicians,
TopicMathematical Physics,

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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)