a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Pyramids (2001)
Terry Pratchett
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Thanks to Aaron Gullison for pointing out that in this Discworld novel, "the camels are all mathematicians, and think in math." For instance,

(quoted from Pyramids)

The greatest mathematician alive on the Disc, and in fact the last one in the Old Kingdom, stretched out in his stall and counted the pieces of straw in his bedding. Then he estimated the number of nails in the wall. Then he spent a few minutes proving that an automorphic resonance field has a semi-infinite number of irresolute prime ideals. After that, in order to pass the time, he ate his breakfast again.

This camel, the brilliant mathematician "You Bastard", realizes that something is wrong with mathematics:

(quoted from Pyramids)

You Bastard was thinking: there seems to be some growing dimensional instability here, swinging from zero to nearly forty-five degrees by the look of it. How interesting, I wonder what's causing it? Let V equal 3. Let Tau equal Chi/4. cudcudcud Let Kappa/y be an Evil-Smelling-Bugger differential tensor domain with four imaginary spin coefficients....

Ptraci hit him across the head with her sandal. "Come on, get a move on!" she yelled. You Bastard thought: Therefore H to the enabling power equals V/s. cudcudcud Thus in hypersyllogical notation...

Funny, but mostly meaningless as far as I can tell.

Contributed by RG

While it scores a 1, this (and most of Pratchett's work) is mathematiccally lucid, and frequently presents physics and mathematics (and especially the Discworlds's deeviations from the normal rules) as important to the narrative -- on the Discworld,which isvheavily influenfed by "narrativium", million to one chances happen nine times out of ten, and the story is much better for it.

See also the semiserious "Science of Discworld" books, which are amongst the best "popular" presentations of serious science I've ever come across.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to Pyramids
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
  2. The Dark Side of the Sun by Terry Pratchett
  3. Numbercruncher by Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist)
  4. The Smithsonian Institution by Gore Vidal
  5. Bonnie's Story: A Blonde's Guide to Mathematics by Janis Hill
  6. The Mathematics of Magic by L. Sprague de Camp / Fletcher Pratt
  7. Jack and the Aktuals, or, Physical Applications of Transfinite Set Theory by Rudy Rucker
  8. Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley by Danyl McLauchlan
  9. Bellwether by Connie Willis
  10. Monday Begins on Saturday by Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky
Ratings for Pyramids:
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:
1/5 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
5/5 (2 votes)

GenreHumorous, Science Fiction, Fantasy,

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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)