a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
Douglas Adams
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

Douglas Adams is best known for his wacky Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. But his two Dirk Gently novels, while maintaining Adams' characteristic high wackiness, also carry a good deal of sophistication. In particular, before reading DGHDA, one should review Coleridge "Kabla Khan" and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", since a major part of the fun and the plot revolves on Adams' peculiar reading of these two poems.

Mathematics enters the novel in several ways. Small little math jokes and jibes abound. for example, a 7-year old girl attending a don's dinner is conjectured to be "the new maths professor".

More seriously, the main character, Richard MacDuff, is a programmer whose current project is converting numerical data into sounds. He discusses this in some mathematical detail at times. Another character, playing with MacDuff's computers, sums up the first three terms of a Fourier series graphically. And MacDuff has written an article on the relationship between music, mathematics, and beauty, and which gets quoted extensively.

Contributed by JJ Amblin

"With its combination of archeological, literary and mathematical concerns, maybe this would more accurately be described as "interdiciplinary fiction"? The story is disjointed in parts, but very entertaining."

Contributed by Sonja Dezman

Douglas Adams is one of the authors that I admire. I have read all his works. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is a brilliant story. It is "crazy", but fantastic! At first it looked like something thrown together, but after some time I found out that the book is full of mathematics. It is fun to read it, because you have to look for cues, you have to search through your mind to understand things. It takes you some time to connect different parts of the book together. It is a great exercise for your brain and it makes you laugh. The authors imagination is unbelievable. It is definitely something you have never read before (unless you have already read The Hitchikers Guide Through the Galaxy). The content is completely unpredictable. It surprises you all the time. Each page consists of something you would never expect(not even in the wildest dreams). if you don't believe me, read it and see for yourself!

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Works Similar to Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  2. Bellwether by Connie Willis
  3. Doctor Who: The Turing Test by Paul Leonard
  4. The Anomaly [L'Anomalie] by Hervé Le Tellier
  5. Bill, the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison
  6. The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem
  7. Mathematicians in Love by Rudy Rucker
  8. The Girl with the Celestial Limb by Pauline Melville
  9. Probability Pipeline by Rudy Rucker / Marc Laidlaw
  10. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Ratings for Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency:
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:
1.68/5 (11 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.74/5 (15 votes)

GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,

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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)