a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Hinton (2020)
Mark Blacklock

Charles Howard Hinton was a controversial mathematician working in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Howard Hinton, as he was known, studied and wrote about "the fourth dimension" and is best known for having coined the term "tesseract". Some of the ideas he promoted are now so standard that they seem trivial (like considering three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension together as a combined four-dimensional space-time), making it difficult to remember that they really were new ideas at the time. He viewed these mathematical concepts as somehow being tied to questions of morality, particularly his father's polygamous religious ideology. Howard Hinton himself was found guilty of bigamy and so lived in Japan and the United States while exiled from his home country of England.

Among Hinton's writings promoting the concept of higher dimensions are the short story "An Episode of Flatland", which is included in this database. In fact, I would argue that he had a greater influence on mathematical fiction than on the field of mathematics itself.

Based on what I have read about it online, Blacklock's book "Hinton" is a work of historical fiction about Howard Hinton taking place during his time in Japan. The novel mentions, but apparently does not explain, some of his ideas about higher dimensions, and focuses on his relationship with his first wife (the daughter of mathematician George Boole) and his children.

I thank Allan Goldberg for bringing it to my attention and look forward to being able to say more about it here once I have had a chance to read it for myself.

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 Hinton
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. An Episode of Flatland by Charles H. Hinton
  2. The Ishango Bone by Paul Hastings Wilson
  3. A Universe of Sufficient Size by Miriam Sved
  4. Symmetry and the Expatriate by Tefcros Michaelides
  5. The Goddess of Small Victories [La déesse des petites victoire] by Yannick Grannec
  6. The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer
  7. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  8. The Capacity for Infinite Happiness by Alexis von Konigslow
  9. La formule de Stokes, roman by Michèle Audin
  10. Colonel Lágrimas by Carlos Fonseca Suárez
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GenreHistorical Fiction,
MotifHigher/Lower Dimensions, Real Mathematicians,

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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)