a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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FYI (1961)
James Blish
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

This story contains a brief explanation of the transfinite cardinals and their arithmetic as part of a scary bit of science fiction. Why, you may ask (and the character in the story does), do the transfinite cardinals not seem to describe anything in the real world? The answer, as we find out, is simply that we were not ready for them...until now. But, that has changed, and whoever is controlling our "chronon" has noticed it. So we can expect a more sophisticated universe -- in which omega plays a more prominent role -- to begin any moment. (Good, I'm glad. That set theory class will finally begin to pay off!)
First published in Blish's collection So Close to Home (1961) and reprinted in Mathematical Magpie.

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Works Similar to FYI
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Jack and the Aktuals, or, Physical Applications of Transfinite Set Theory by Rudy Rucker
  2. Lucy and David and the God Equation by Alan McKenzie
  3. The Crazy Mathematician by Ralph Sylvester Underwood
  4. The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges
  5. The Extraordinary Hotel or the Thousand and First Journey of Ion the Quiet by Naum Ya. Vilenkin
  6. Three Cornered Wheel by Poul Anderson
  7. The Seventh Stair by Frank Brandon
  8. Paint ‘Em Green by Burt Filer
  9. The Second Moon by Russell R. Winterbotham
  10. The Long Slow Orbits by H.H. Hollis
Ratings for FYI:
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:
4/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifAnti-social Mathematicians,
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)