a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Regarding Roderer (1994)
Guillermo Martinez
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

A short novel about Gustavo Roderer, a brilliant but troubled young man in Argentina. Mathematics is not a central theme, but arises as Roderer's friend (the narrator) talks with him about the philosophical implications of "Seldom's Theorem". "Seldom's Theorem" is apparently a fictional generalization of Gödel's theorem which the author created for this book. Although we only learn a little bit about the theorem here, we actually get to meet Arthur Seldom in another novel by the same author, The Oxford Murders (2004).

Contributed by R.D. Ogden, Southwest Texas State Univ.

"I have a Ph.D. in math, so my low math content rating must be seen in that light. But the math that is in there, especially the discourse on proof and binary logic, is accurate and appropriate. To me this brief literary jewel is about the illusion of the self-sufficiency of genius and talent. With the Latino love of the ironic, he shows how great the loss can be of the fruits of genius (Roderer) when that genius has an inadequate support system: the narrator, his family, and poor Roderer's mother. The narrator could not put aside his own pretensions of genius to be the Boswell for another. Probably in math this is even more common; so often we do not know how to support the unorthodox among us. How many Galois and Ramanujans have died, taking their insights and intuitions with them?"

Contributed by GuilleBK

It's a beautiful piece of art, comparable to Borges'. You won't regret a read.

Contributed by Athina

I've just read this book and am trying to digest it. I am not a mathematician , although I've read a bit of math fiction before. This novel goes far beyond mathematical or medical fiction. It is so concise and complicated, yet every "little" theme serves Martinez's literary object. I am definitely going to read "About Roderer" again and again. And recommend it to anyone who listens. And maybe quote it sometimes. I have so much to say about it but the dust hasn't settled yet. The sum of it is: If this world is a model for dualistic humans , "we do have very little time", even if our dualism is a projection or a devised barrier for what we do not understand... yet. "The consequences are real" ; and Roderer and the nameless narrator and the "minor" characters are so compelling , a treat for the would-be cynic ( in the pure sense ).

The 'good doctor' adds a nice , pivotal touch. He is the Devil and Roderer is an anti-Faustus ; and morphine is proposed by the former as the means by which Roderer could rid himself temporarily from biological demands on his genius, until he would wake up to find himself spent, his life-absorving work claimed by the Devil. Even though Roderer is not tempted, the Devil proves to be the better chess player.

PS. Martinez is so very, very sly!

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Works Similar to Regarding Roderer
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez
  2. Good Will Hunting by Gus Van Sant (director) / Matt Damon (Screenplay)
  3. The Wizard by C.S. Godshalk
  4. Against the Odds by Martin Gardner
  5. Batorsag and Szerelem [a.k.a. Beautiful Ohio] by Ethan Canin
  6. Los crímenes de Alicia [The Alice Murders / The Oxford Brotherhood] by Guillermo Martinez
  7. Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis
  8. La formula di Ramanujan by Marco Abate (writer) / P. Ongaro (artist)
  9. The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am [Jo Fortere Jeg Gar, Jo Mindre Er Jeg] by Kjersti A Skomsvold
  10. La Conjecture de Syracuse by Antoine Billot
Ratings for Regarding Roderer:
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:
2.7/5 (10 votes)
Literary Quality:
4.59/5 (10 votes)

MotifGenius, Prodigies,

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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)