a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Hell of a Fix (2009)
Matthew Hughes

When an actuary's exclamation upon hitting his thumb with a hammer summons a demon, he unwittingly causes a general strike of the workers in Hell. With the help of a theologian with a bizarre theory to explain apparent inconsistencies and inequities in religion, he is able to save the day and fulfill one of his dreams.

The mathematical content per page ratio is much lower here than in some of the other demon/devil summoning stories listed in this database. (See, for example, The Devil a Mathematician Would Be, Naturally, The Atrocity Archive, The Devil and Simon Flagg, Convergent Series, and I of Newton.)

The main mathematical aspect of the story is simply the degree to which the protagonist conforms to the stereotype:

(quoted from Hell of a Fix)

In college, Chesney discovered the sheer decorum of the interrelationships that numbers could form with each other; that became his fascination. Though he lacked the creativity to pursue a career as a pure mathematician, his degree led to a position as a junior actuary in a midsize insurance company. He spent his days calculating the risk of death or injuries for tiny slices numerically carved from the demographic spectrum. His evenings were mostly given over to the second love he had discovered in college: graphic novels, especially those that featured oddly talented individuals who fought crime, freelance-style.

Crunching numbers suited Chesney's deeply introverted personality. Actuaries were not expected to be the life of any party. All the men in his department had grown up as friendless as he.

A discussion between Chesney and his co-workers regarding the morality of their profession is also somewhat mathematical. However, in contrast to the stories above, the resolution of the supernatural predicament does not come either from mathematics or the character's inherent intellect, but rather from a very unorthodox theological perspective.

This story was published as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (December 2009), p. 81.

(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 Hell of a Fix
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Damned Souls and Statistics by Robert Dawson
  2. Convergent Series by Larry Niven
  3. The Devil and Simon Flagg by Arthur Porges
  4. I of Newton by Joe Haldeman
  5. The Devil a Mathematician Would Be by A.J. Lohwater
  6. The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
  7. Probabilitea by John Chu
  8. The Babelogic of Mathematics by Vijay Fafat
  9. Mathematics Disputes with Death, and the Devil Intervenes by Thomas Reed Willemain
  10. The Book of Alephs by Inderjeet Mani
Ratings for Hell of a Fix:
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 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)

MotifAnti-social Mathematicians, Religion,
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)