a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

Fractal Mode (1992)
Piers Anthony
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Here, Anthony's usual blend of fantasy and science fiction takes us to an alternate universe where the geometry of worlds themselves take on the form of the Mandelbrot set. Unfortunately, he spends a lot of time talking about fractals, the Mandelbrot Set and Julia Sets though he seems either to not understand these subjects very well or simply to be unable to explain them clearly. (I think it is probably that he doesn't understand them very well. The many popular math books on these topics seem to have spread a lot of confusion and disinformation.)

Contributed by Jennifer S.

Anthony seems to be using this novel (and the rest of this series) as a pulpit for his own views on the origin of life. His character development is also somewhat weak, although his plot is definitely creative. Read only if you don't mind being preached to, and want some light bathroom reading.

One part I like is the description of why the main character did not initially recognize the fractal nature of the world around her. It was because

(quoted from Fractal Mode)

…people had plowed out most of the knobs, near the village, so as to use the land for crops. Man always did mess up the scenery. [But where she was later] the mountains were shaped like boulders with smaller boulders perched on them, and smaller ones on the smaller ones, and so on without end. It was weird — but also true to the Mandelbrot set as she remembered it. True to the entire science of fractals and Julia sets.

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 Fractal Mode
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Gödel geht [Gödel's Exit] by Andreas Findig
  2. El Troiacord by Miquel de Palol
  3. Hamisch in Avalon by Eliot Fintushel
  4. Numbercruncher by Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
  5. Arcadia by Iain Pears
  6. Calculated Risks by Seanan McGuire
  7. The Hollow Man by Dan Simmons
  8. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
  9. Paradox by John Meaney
  10. The Tower of Babylon by Ted Chiang
Ratings for Fractal Mode:
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 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.2/5 (5 votes)

GenreScience Fiction, Fantasy,

Home All New Browse Search About

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)