a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Black Mask of Al-Jabr (1967)
Vladimir Levshin
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Rob Milson

The 3 friends return to Karlikania. Their friend, the baby zero, is accosted by a mysterious x-shaped stranger, who challenges our heroes to recover his identity. Many adventures unfold, and the visitors to Karlikania master Pascal's triangle, algebraic identities, the arithemetic and geometric means, and many other challenges. Finally the mysterious stranger is released from his enchantment; an equation is solved and the mask is removed. This is mathematical storytelling at its best!

Unfortunately, this Russian classic does not appear to have been translated into English.

Contributed by Laura

It was one of my favorite childhood books. I wish I could buy it here, in the U.S.

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Works Similar to Black Mask of Al-Jabr
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Three Days in Karlikania by Vladimir Levshin
  2. Little Zero the Seafarer [Captain One's frigate] by Vladimir Levshin
  3. The Thesis of the Absent-Minded Master by Vladimir Levshin
  4. The Travel Notes of the Absent-Minded Master by Vladimir Levshin
  5. New Tales of the The Absent-Minded Master by Vladimir Levshin
  6. The Magic Two-Horn by Sergey Pavlovich Bobrov
  7. The Mouse and his Child by Russell Hoban
  8. The Brady Kids (Episode: It's All Greek to Me) by Marc Richards (screenwriter) / Marc Richards (director)
  9. The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster
  10. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster / Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)
Ratings for Black Mask of Al-Jabr:
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:
3.4/5 (5 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.2/5 (5 votes)

GenreFantasy, Children's Literature,

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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)