a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Immortal Bird (1961)
H. Russell Wakefield
Highly Rated!

Professor Brandley, a "young" man of 53, wants nothing more than to attain the position of Regius Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Metropolitan University in London so that he could train "disciples who would carry on [his] work and disseminate [his] ideas." Unfortunately, old Professor Canopy has that position and has no intention of retiring soon despite being well past his prime. And so, when Canopy invites Brandley up a dangerous old staircase to view the "bands of Jupiter" through a telescope, it is not entirely clear that it was an accident that Canopy ends up falling to his death. Then, the birds that had been so friendly to Canopy during his life, seek (and eventually attain) their revenge.

This "ghost story" by one of the more famous British horror story writers of the early 20th century is hard to find today due to that author's waning popularity. Still it ought to be sought out by fans of mathematical fiction as the only published ghost story I know of in which both the haunt and the haunted are mathematicians!

Thanks to Sandro Caparrini (Torino, Italy) for pointing this one out to me! He claims that it originally appeard in Strayers from Sheol (Sauk City, Wis: Arkham House, 1961) and which has recently been reprinted in Canada.

Contributed by tim

Just finished reading. It's a longish short story with mathematics as a central theme. The story does not drag at any point yet is not a page turner. I've read quite a bit of Wakefield's stories and most deal with the reader wondering if the protagonist committed the deed.

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Works Similar to Immortal Bird
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Shadow Guests by Joan Aiken
  2. Real Numbers by Liz Kaufman
  3. Trains Passing by Martin Ziegler
  4. Manifold Thoughts by Patrick Freivald
  5. Lost and Found by Joe Stout
  6. Solid Geometry by Ian McEwan
  7. The Judge's House by Bram Stoker
  8. Unknown Things by Reginald Bretnor
  9. Special Meal by Josh Malerman
  10. They'll Say It Was the Communists by Sarah Lazarz
Ratings for Immortal Bird:
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:
3.5/5 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.67/5 (3 votes)

MotifEvil mathematicians, Academia,
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)