a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Immune Dreams (1978)
Ian Watson
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

A creepy but interesting story that combines the genetics of cancer, the neurology of dreaming, immunology, and the mathematics of catastrophe theory (a precursor of what we now call "chaos theory"). A biologist, who insists he is dying of cancer although he refuses to take tests to confirm this hypothesis, convinces a researcher to destroy a part of his brain on the theory that both dreams and cancer have related biological functions. The connection has something to do with Rene Thom's catastrophe curve, although we're never told quite enough to understand how. In fact, in the end we are left to wonder whether he is crazy or brilliant.

Originally published in a collection called Pulsar I and reprinted in Mathenauts.

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Works Similar to Immune Dreams
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Eye of the Beholder by Alex Kasman
  2. A Catastrophe Machine by Carter Scholz
  3. The Nature of Smoke by Anne Harris
  4. Les Particules élémentaires [Elementary Particles] by Michel Houellebecq
  5. Unreasonable Effectiveness by Alex Kasman
  6. Strange Attractors by Charles Soule (author) / Greg Scott (Illustrator)
  7. Snow by Geoffrey A. Landis
  8. Solid Geometry by Ian McEwan
  9. Axiom of Dreams by Arula Ratnakar
  10. White Light, or What is Cantor's Continuum Problem? by Rudy Rucker
Ratings for Immune Dreams:
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:
2/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifMental Illness,
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)