
2+2=5 (2006) 
 Rudy Rucker / Terry Bisson 

A retired insurance adjuster and a math professor who was fired for telling his students that there are "holes" in the number line pass the time by trying to break a world record for counting. To achieve... (more) 


3adica (2018) 
 Greg Egan 

Sentient characters in a horrific video game combining Jack the Ripper and vampires seek to escape to another game called 3adica where things are strange but peaceful.
This is one of a series of stories... (more) 


The A, B, C of the Higher Mathematics (1907) 
 Ramaswami Aiyar 

A 1page lyrical parable about the evolution of calculus through the marriage of Algebra with the concept of Limits (so the tale says), and the birth of its 3 Princes  Astronomy (using Infinity),... (more) 


Actuarial / The Paradox Paradox (2010) 
 Buzz Mauro 

These two extremely short stories by Mauro, part of his thesis project which consisted entirely of original works of mathematical fiction, appeared in the December 2010 issue of Prime Number Magazine.
Actuarial... (more) 


Adventure of the Final Problem (1893) 
 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

This first Sherlock Holmes story about Professor Moriarty (later to be
viewed as Holmes' arch enemy) introduces him as a professor of
mathematics who won fame as a young man for his extension of the
binomial... (more) 


Agha and Math (1946) 
 Vladmir Karapetoff 

A very funny, very creative tale of how logarithms might have been invented in ancient times, without it having had to wait for Napier.
In ancient times, ‘Agha, the Master’ was a rich landed proprietor... (more) 


All the Universe in a Mason Jar (1977) 
 Joe Haldeman 

A humorous science fiction tale. John Taylor Taylor is a retired mathematician living in New Hampstead, Florida. One fine day, as he sits at his regular bar hangout reading his journals (“Nature, Communications... (more) 


Another Cock Tale (1975) 
 Chris Miller 

A tale which is best avoided, but documented here for completeness. It is an utterly tasteless, juvenile story designed to evoke titterings among teenagers. One could laugh if it were a funny dirty joke... (more) 


Applied Mathematics (1898) 
 Percival Henry Truman 

A charming little tale about some mathematical fracas in the Kingdom of Nunvalia, and its resolution which left everyone, including a befuddled king, happy.
Ferdinand, the star pupil of the court... (more) 



Art Thou Mathematics? (1978) 
 Charles Mobbs 

Short story (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, October 1978 Vol. 98 No 10) concerning the very nature of mathematical discovery. It was later rewritten in the form of a play, which the author has... (more) 


As Above, So Below (2009) 
 Rudy Rucker 

An LSD of a story  in typical Rucker style  where a computer programmer working with the Mandelbrot set is visited upon by a living UFO in the form of the Mset; the UFO named Ma explains to him how... (more) 


Astor Place Barber (2023) 
 Audrey Nasar 

A short piece that employs a humorous McGuffin to introduce the Barber's Paradox.
Both frequent site contributor Dr. Allan Goldberg and the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics think this is an example... (more) 


Aurora in Four Voices (1998) 
 Catherine Asaro 

Jato is trapped in Nightingale, a city in permanent
darkness, inhabited by mathematical artists who mostly ignore him. Soz
arrives to repair her ship, meets Jato, and finds... (more) 


Axiom of Dreams (2023) 
 Arula Ratnakar 

An aspiring mathematician gets a brain implant designed to aid her research on Gödel Incompleteness in the hopes that it will help her get accepted into a PhD program. But, against the advice of... (more) 


Babbage (2008) 
 Claire Barker (writerdirector) / Eamon Wyse (writer) 

A 2010 movie sponsored by the British Council and directed by Claire Barker. It is a short, 15minute vignette, a dramatization of a fictional dinner conversation between Charles Babbage, his religious... (more) 


The Babelogic of Mathematics (2023) 
 Vijay Fafat 

This is a creation myth for mathematics itself, incorporating the writing styles of both the Book of Genesis and Nasadiya Sukta. The author, it should be noted, is a frequent contributor to this website... (more) 


Babirusa (2022) 
 Arula Ratnakar 

One can briefly summarize this story without mentioning anything about mathematics: It concerns ethically questionable experiments conducted by a company called REMedy that link people through a “dream... (more) 


Back to Methuselah (1921) 
 George Bernard Shaw 

In this notverystageable play in five parts, Shaw expounds on
mankind and the theory of evolution, from Adam and Eve in the
Garden of Eden to a paradise world 30,000 years in the future.
It turns... (more) 


The Balloon Hoax (1844) 
 Edgar Allan Poe 

This is Poe's account of an alleged balloon trip to the
moon, in the spirit of the then infamous moon hoax. The
balloon rider describes the Earth as appearing concave when
5 miles up. Later,... (more) 


Balthazar and I (2021) 
 Massar (Writer and Director) 

I recently created a short post for this movie based only on this description that I found on IMDB:
The main character is a lonely modern man addicted to sex. He can not understand women and is obsessed... (more) 


Barr’s Problem (1892) 
 Julian Hawthorne 

A cute, talltale about one Professor Brooks  presumably one of mathematics  his past student, Barr, and his 19year old niece, Susan Wayne. The two youngsters are in love with each other but the... (more) 


Bees (1848) 
 Anonymous 

A simple onepage story written to convey the standard “Argument from Design” championed by William Paley, by articulating how the intricate hives constructed by bees follow mathematical principles,... (more) 


The Bees of Knowledge (1975) 
 Barrington J. Bayley 

It's a story about a traveller marooned on a planet, part of which is populated by giant bees which collect the "nectar of knowledge" and make "honey of experience" out of that nectar. The story has a... (more) 


The Bishop Murder Case (1928) 
 S.S. van Dine (pseudonym of Willard Huntington Wright) 

Our hero, Vance, says at the end of this mystery novel: "At the outset I was able to postulate a mathematician as the criminal agent. The difficulty of naming the murderer lay in the fact that nearly... (more) 


Blinding Shadows (1934) 
 Donald Wandrei 

Story of a mathematics professor who theorizes that 4dimensional objects should be casting 3dimensional shadows and such shadows should be viewable by specially made mirrors. Dutifully, element number... (more) 


BLIT (1988) 
 David Langford 

Goedelian incompleteness is encoded in graphic images that
kill viewers. A new kind of infoterrorism spreads.
Originally published in INTERZONE #25 Sept/Oct 1988.
See also a fake FAQ... (more) 


Blowups Happen (1940) 
 Robert A. Heinlein 

A mathematician discovers that his formulas predict that an important
new power station poses an extremely grave risk to humanity, and he
must convince others of the danger.
reprinted in THE PAST... (more) 


The Book of Worlds (1929) 
 Miles J. Breuer 

Another story of 4D from Miles Breuer, this time with Prof. Cosgrave who builds a "hyperstereoscope" that can combine 3dimensional views ("geometrical stereograms") from different angles into a 4D... (more) 


Border Guards (1999) 
 Greg Egan 

In a virtual universe shaped like a 3torus, free from disease and death, Jamil is easily depressed but enjoys playing a game of quantum soccer with his old friends, and one new friend. The new friend... (more) 


The Brady Kids (Episode: It's All Greek to Me) (1972) 
 Marc Richards (screenwriter) / Marc Richards (director) 

I had completely forgotten that there was a cartoon about the Brady Bunch until I ran across this while searching for mathematical fiction. But, it looks so familiar (the pet pandas, the cheesy animation,... (more) 


Bread & Kisses (2010) 
 Katherine Fitzgerald (writer and director) 

In this wonderful short film, a mathematician desperately trying to correct a hole in a proof falls in love with a baker. He uncharacteristically begins taking baking lessons from her but returns to... (more) 


The Brink of Infinity (1936) 
 Stanley G. Weinbaum 

A
mathematics professor is kidnapped by a madman with a grudge against
mathematicians, who threatens dire consequences unless the prof can
solve a math riddle he has concocted: by asking ten questions,... (more) 


The Brothers Karamazov (1880) 
 Fyodor Dostoevsky 

In this classic final masterwork by Dostoevsky, the existence of nonEuclidean geometry is mentioned at one point. Although the theme is not explicitly carried throughout the rest of the novel, it plays... (more) 


The Calculus of Love (2011) 
 Dan Clifton (Writer and Director) 

A professor who is obsessed with proving Goldbach's Conjecture challenges a class of graduate students to make any progress on it. But, is he truly motivated by a love of pure mathematics and its search... (more) 


The Call of Cthulhu (1928) 
 H.P. Lovecraft 

This is the most famous story by Lovecraft, which spawned it's own subgenre and
RPG,
called the Cthulhu Mythos. It concerns the investigations of Prof. Francis
Wayland Thurston
as he investigates... (more) 


The Cambist and Lord Iron (2007) 
 Daniel Abraham 

The story is set in a noname kingdom, seemingly medieval but with
certain modernisms. The cambist of the title is a minor worker, whose
daily routine is interrupted by Lord Iron, who has come to... (more) 


Cantor Trilogy (2015) 
 Harun Šiljak 

An intriguing short work of speculative fiction about a future in which nearly all mathematics research is conducted by computers. In fact, in the story, only one journal (The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics),... (more) 


Cantor’s Dragon (2014) 
 Craig DeLancy 

An absolutely fabulous tale of a man outwitting the devil, reminiscent of “The Devil and Simon Flagg” and in a very creative way. George Cantor, who has been hospitalized with mental exhaustion from... (more) 


Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (1955) 
 Jean Lee Latham 

The life of early American mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch, famous for his work on techniques of navigation, is fictionalized in this novel for young adults. Although the mathematical details are not... (more) 


The Central Tendency (2003) 
 Daniel Kaysen 

In the first portion of this short story, a teenager and the aunt who took her in when her parents died enjoy doing math together. However, when the girl begins to get advanced training from Cambridge... (more) 


The Chair of Philanthromathematics (1908) 
 O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) 

Jeff Peters and Andy Tucker, con men in
the O. Henry stories collected in this volume, are a bit
uncomfortable after scoring a really big scam. So they
... (more) 


The Circle of Zero (1936) 
 Stanley G. Weinbaum 

Thanks to Vijay Fafat for pointing out this story (with only a little math in it). A character speculates that the laws of probability predict that anything will happen in an infinite amount of time,... (more) 


Clockwork (1953) 
 Leslie Bigelow 

A very satisfying tale which blends some handwaving magic realism and mathematics to create a vision of the fantastic.
Noah Griffenhoek is professor of physics, and the narrator, Patrick Lanson,... (more) 


Cobra (2022) 
 R. Ajay Gnanamuthu (Director) / Kannan (Screenplay) / Sekar Neelan (Screenplay) 

This picaresque Indian film focuses on a powerful crime lord named Cobra who also happens to be a mathematical genius known as "Mathi". It is ambitious in its threehour length and its attempt to combine... (more) 


Coconuts (1926) 
 Ben Ames Williams 

The story is a very nicely written tale of one man, Wadlin, whose only passion in life is mathematics  numbers, puzzles, Diophantine equations ("indeterminates"), statistics. As the author describes... (more) 


Conservation of Probability (1994) 
 Brook West 

The story, “NullP.” by William Tenn speaks of the perfectly average man, right at the center of the population bellcurve. In “Conservation of Probability”, Brook West explores the other end,... (more) 


Dalrymple’s Equation (1956) 
 Paul Fairman 

A tall tale about an alien “from Arva Majoris [...] a planet in a galaxy beyond the conception of [humanity’s] most brilliant minds.” . He’s taken on the name, “Tennyson Dalrymple” and uses... (more) 


Damned Souls and Statistics (2011) 
 Robert Dawson 

A statistician sells her soul to the devil in exchange for guaranteed tenure, but redeems herself by creating a cleverly useless confidence interval.
I like the part about the realization during her... (more) 


The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) 
 Robert Wise (director) / Harry Bates (story) / Edmund H. North 

One must wonder how aliens might communicate with humans when and if they arrive on Earth. In the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, the extraterrestrial Klaatu (Michael Rennie) introduces himself... (more) 


The Decimal People (2022) 
 Zachary Shiffman 

This short story is narrated by a math teacher who frequently utilizes mathematical terminology and notation in his musings on the human condition. A key metaphor throughout the story is the idea that... (more) 


Deterministic Republic (2021) 
 Kris H. Green 

The January 2021 issue of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics includes the article Aligning Political Options and Aggregated Personal Opinions on the Issues by Kris Green which introduces an alternative... (more) 


The Devious Weapon (1949) 
 M. C. Pease 

This is a clever gametheoretic story about a man outwitting a formidable computing machine by doing almost nothing.
Prince Kallin is the leader of the “League of Border States”, of which “the... (more) 


The Devouring Tide (1944) 
 John Russell Fearn (under the pseudonym Polton Cross) 

Another horridly written story by JRF, this time about an allconsuming, universedestroying frontier of “nonspacetime” dubbed “Black Infinity”, a shock wave from the original... (more) 


Diabologic (1955) 
 Eric Frank Russell 

Tagline: “One way to keep a man from getting anywhere is to give him a toy—a nonsense puzzle —that he can’t put down. It’s much more effective than trying to forcibly hold him!”
This is... (more) 



Dimensional Analysis and Mr Fortescue (1965) 
 Eric St. Clair 

A fairly silly story typical of pulp magazines. Mr. Fortescue wanted to to build a funhouse (“House of Fun, Magic, and Mystery”) in his town. Why? Read with an eyeroll:
“This town needed... (more) 


Discordium Mathematica (2024) 
 Vijay Fafat 

Frequent site contributor Vijay Fafat has written this epic poem which was published in the July 2024 issue of The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics. Like one of his earlier works published in the same... (more) 


Division by Zero (1991) 
 Ted Chiang 

Answers the question: what would happen if we found out that
mathematics is inconsistent? This is a great piece of
mathematical fiction. (Thanks to Frank Chess who pointed it out to
me.)
Renee... (more) 


Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959) 
 Hamilton Luske (director) 

Disney's Donald Duck takes an adventure to a land where mathematics
"comes alive". (Animated short.)
I used this video in my 6th grade
classroom. The kids enjoyed watching
... (more) 


The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (1963) 
 Norton Juster 

This picture book describes the love story of two geometrical
figures. It was also made into a cartoon by Chuck Jones (available on YouTube).
I have loved this book ever since my wonderful
mathematical... (more) 


The Einstein SeeSaw (1932) 
 Miles J. Breuer 

This is another of the hyperspace stories by Miles Breuer. This time, a mathematical physicist discovers that mattter can be tossed around in and out of space(time) [see his papers, "A Preliminary Report... (more) 


An Episode of Flatland (1907) 
 Charles H. Hinton 

Hinton, whose biography is a
little too weird for me to believe and whose essays on the fourth dimension
(see for example A New
Era of Thought) leave me wondering how much he really believed that the
fourth... (more) 


The Eternal Wanderer (1936) 
 Nathan Schachner 

A magnificently pulpy story of one man, Cliff Haven's, struggle against the tyranny of a Martian who enslaves the inner planets of the solar system. As a punishment, Cliff is sentenced to become “the... (more) 


Euclid and His Modern Rivals (1879) 
 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) 

I have long known that mathematician Charles Dodgson, who wrote the famous Alice stories under the pseudonym "Lewis Carroll", also wrote a book defending Euclid's ancient text as the best for teaching... (more) 


Euler's Equation (2019) 
 Neil Hudson 

There are certain things in life which strike people as proof of existence of a transcendent power, a mystical presence of something beyond the mundane laws of the sciences. To some, Euler’s equation... (more) 




The Fatal Equation (1933) 
 Arthur Strangeland 

This is a very wellcrafted murder mystery executed quite ingeniously. A mathematical physicist  Jan Friede  sets up a system of 20+ equations which eliminate the time variable from Einstein's equations... (more) 


The Feeling of Power (1957) 
 Isaac Asimov 

An advanced society rediscovers the joys
of multipying numbers BY HAND, a forgotten art. It's a
gem.
The
author probably did not realize how quickly the premise of this story
(people so dependent... (more) 


Feigenbaum Number (1995) 
 Nancy Kress 

A postdoc who perceives reality different than other people (he sees something like the Platonic ideals people ought to be) works with a professor on combining chaos theory with particle physics. I'm... (more) 


Fermat's Best Theorem (1995) 
 Janet Kagan 

A student comes up with what appears to be a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. So, she gives it to her professor hoping that he will find a mistake in it (see below). It turns out that the professor is... (more) 


The FifthDimension Catapult (1931) 
 Murray Leinster 

This short novel, originally published in the January 1931 ASTOUNDING,
and republished by Damon Knight in SCIENCE FICTION OF THE 30'S (1975),
involves a mathematical physicist whose theories get applied... (more) 


Fifty Million Monkeys (1943) 
 Raymond F. Jones 

The story is set sometime around 12,000 AD. The use of interstellar rockets over 15 years creates a "polarization of space" which leads to a "Pioneer anomaly"like deviations in flight paths of spacecraft.... (more) 


Final Exam (2011) 
 Robert Dawson 

A math professor nearing retirement and displeased with trends in academia decides to use his final exam (the last he will ever give) to get his revenge on the cheating students in his calculus class.... (more) 


The Finanseer (1949) 
 Edward L. Locke 

I have to admit that this particular story blew me away for multiple reasons. It is one of the most mathematical of tales ever to appear in pulp magazines, and poundforpound in terms of length (so... (more) 


Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884) 
 Edwin Abbott Abbott 

This is the classic example of mathematical fiction in which
the author helps us to think about the meaning of "dimension" through
fictional example: a visit to a world with only two spatial
dimensions.... (more) 


Flower Arrangement (1959) 
 Rosel George Brown 

I kept smiling throughout this story, which weaves in mathematics without really speaking about it overtly, and at the same time, capturing sardonic commentary about treatment of women in a malecentric... (more) 


The FourColor Problem (1971) 
 Barrington J. Bayley 

A story written in a psychedelic, streamofconsciousness style a la William S. Burroughs concerning the discovery of previously unknown countries on the Earth whose existence provides a counterexample... (more) 


The FourthDimensional Demonstrator (1935) 
 Murray Leinster 

Uses the fourth dimension as geewhiz terminology to explain
a matter duplicator/unduplicator. Includes a tesseract.
But if you ignore the story's explanation involving time as
... (more) 


Fractions (2011) 
 Buzz Mauro 

A math teacher realizes that the father of one of his students is a man with whom he has had an anonymous sexual relationship. There is some discussion of math education in general, and about hypothetical... (more) 



Fruits of Perseverance (1841) 
 Anonymous 

This short story does not have a specific plot which threads in mathematical ideas. It is much more a “Math Sermon”, deployed by a caring mother to instill a value system in her young child.... (more) 


Funes el Memorioso [Funes, His Memory] (1942) 
 Jorge Luis Borges 

Borges' short story piece, “Funes, His Memory' (or in other translations, “Funes, The Memorious”) discusses the phenomenal memory of an acquaintance, Ireneo Funes. Funes, at age nineteen,... (more) 


Futility (1929) 
 Sterner St. Paul Meek (S.P. Meek) 

There is an old folk story, “The Appointment in Samarra”, in which a man sees Death in a market in Baghdad and flees to Samarra to escape its clutches, only to find that his appointment with Death... (more) 


G103 (2006) 
 Oliver Tearne (director) 

This short film "shows a surreal day in the life of a mathematics undergraduate" taking the math course G103 at the University of Warwick. In fact, the Website makes it sound as if it is an informational... (more) 



The Genius (1901) 
 Nikolai Georgievich GarinMikhailovskii 

The Russian Engineer N.G. Mikhailovskii (18521906) was also an accomplished author using the pseudonym "N.G. Garin". His short story, "The Genius", tells about an Jewish man who fills his notebooks with... (more) 


Geometria (1987) 
 Guillermo del Toro (Writer and Director) 

A boy whose father has died and who is in danger of failing his math class summons a demon, asking him to reunite his family and to ensure that he never fails geometry again. Both wishes are granted,... (more) 


Geometric Regional Novel (1969) 
 Gert Jonke 

An odd but charming book which describes a dreamy, strange, very static, grey world nestled in some corner of thought. In measured, clipped tones, the narrator describes the mathematically precise contours... (more) 



The Geometry of Love (1966) 
 John Cheever 

An engineer is inspired by a passing truck from "Euclid's Dry Cleaning" to apply geometric principles to his own marital problems. He finds that interpreting his family as a triangle has the advantage... (more) 


Getting Rid of Fluff (1908) 
 Ellis Parker Butler 

A humorous story in which two men formulate a mathematical "law of scared dogs" to help in frightening away an annoying dog named Fluff.
"I bet if Sir Isaac Newon had had Fluff as long as you have had... (more) 


Ghost Days (2013) 
 Ken Liu 

This short story begins with a very short computer program that computes the Fibonacci numbers which a young student is learning in school. The teacher is one of the human crew of a space ship and the... (more) 


The Ghosts (1908) 
 Lord Dunsany 

The story line is very simple. Two brothers disagree about the existence of ghosts. They have an argument and the brother who clings to rationality wants to put it to test. On a hungry stomach, amidst... (more) 


The Gift of Numbers (1958) 
 Alan Nourse 

A mild story about an accounting bookkeeper, Avery Mearns, who runs into a stranger called, “The Colonel” at the local bar. “The Colonel had a way with numbers like no other guy around. It was... (more) 


The Gigantic Fluctuation (1973) 
 Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky 

This is an oddly funny story about a man who becomes the "focus point of all miracles in the world", a "gigantic fluctuation". He somehow appears to attract extremely improbably but possible statistical... (more) 


The Gimatria of Pi (2004) 
 Lavie Tidhar 

More ``numerology'' than mathematics, this short story is based on the idea that the decimal expansion of π has predictive value. For example, it is portrayed as predicting the assassination of Yitzhak... (more) 


Glory (2007) 
 Greg Egan 

The story talks about a xenomathematician's quest to understand hieroglyphic tablets on an alien planet containing the mathematical knowledge of an extinct civilization. The extinct aliens had apparently... (more) 


Gold Dust and Star Dust (1929) 
 Cyrill Wates 

Gold disappears overnight! From a locked warehouse! Obviously, our detective, Mr. Corwin, immediately figures out that the stuff has fallen through a crack in the fourth dimension. It has not been stolen,... (more) 


The GoldBug (1843) 
 Edgar Allan Poe 

Not only does this very famous Poe story contain a (very little) bit of mathematics in the form of a probabilistic approach to cryptography and a geometric description of the treasure hunt on the ground... (more) 


Gödel Incomplete (2013) 
 Martha Goddard (Writer and Director) 

A 21st century physicist repeatedly travels back in time for short visits to the 20th century as a result of her experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. For completely unexplained reasons, she always... (more) 


Hajime's Algorithm (2017) 
 Mihara Kazuto 

A bitter old mathematician discovers a young prodigy while visiting the little Japanese island where he grew up in this ten volume manga series that ran from 20172020.
Uchida Yutaka is a mathematician... (more) 


Hard Times (1853) 
 Charles Dickens 

A suggestion for a novel to be added to your website Mathematical Fiction:
In Charles Dickens's "Hard Times", poor schoolgirl Sissy Jupe is struggling in an educational system
that is obsessed... (more) 


Hidden in Glass (1931) 
 Paul Ernst 

A murder mystery involving a mathematical physicist. One Professor Brainard, who is claimed to have mastered "the secret of the fourth dimension" (haven't they all in the pulps?), has a serious professional... (more) 


The Higher Mathematics (1954) 
 Martin C. Wodehouse 

This short story is written as a total spoof which reminded me of Martin Gardner’s “The NoSided professor”, with a certain amount of snarky humor woven in.
A professor of physics conducts an... (more) 


i (2005) 
 Paul Evanby 

A computer programmer meets a composer who is trying to incorporate complex numbers into musical theory:
I nodded slowly, and pointed at the other screen. “What about that?”
He pursed his lips.... (more) 


L' idée fixe du Savant Cosinus (1899) 
 Christophe  Georges Colomb 

This humorous and profusely illustrated French book is considered to be an early example of what we might today call a "comic book".
Cosinus is a mathematician who
desperately wants to travel around... (more) 


The Ifth of Oofth (1957) 
 Walter Trevis 

[This] is a short, zany, talltale reminiscent of Heinlein's "And He Built A Crooked House". Someone ends up making a 3dimensional, unfolded projection of a 5dimensional hypercube, a Penteract. The... (more) 


In Good King Charles's Golden Days (1939) 
 George Bernard Shaw 

Considered by many to be Shaw's worst play, this late example of his
witty writing may be of special interest to visitors to this site. It
takes place at the home of Sir Isaac Newton where he is joined... (more) 


Inquirendo Island (1886) 
 Hudor Genone 

A very long, thinly disguised satire on sectarian splits in Religion, fairly nicely written. A man lost at sea is shipwrecked on an island called “Inquirendo Island”, probably a sarcastic... (more) 


Inside Out (1987) 
 Rudy Rucker 

The story itself is quite disturbing IMO but has the usual zaniness of his other writings. Features quarks as "hypertoroidal vortex rings/loops of superstring", a "cumberquark", "hypertorii with fuzzy... (more) 


Into the Fourth (1925) 
 Adam Hull Shirk 

Here's another one of those flimsy "Fourth Dimension" dimension stories; standard fare: a mathematician breathlessly invokes the higher spatial dimension to conjure up a window into hyperspace. This... (more) 


Jack of Eagles (1952) 
 James Blish 

Blish bases this novel on a quasimathematical explanation of ESP and psychokinesis which was really not necessary and doesn't hold together at all (“the activity of the psi mechanism as a whole... (more) 


The Jester and the Mathematician (2000) 
 Alan R. Gordon 

A short historical fiction piece involving Leonardo of Pisa ("Fibonacci"). Interesting story which features Fibonacci talking briefly about his rabbitseries/sequence, his abacusduel with Pisa's foremost... (more) 


The Judge's House (1914) 
 Bram Stoker 

A math student seeks a quiet place to study for his exams but winds up battling an angry ghost. Stoker certainly knew mathematical words to throw around (e.g. quaternions and conic sections), but this... (more) 


Kavanagh (1849) 
 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

In the fourth chapter of this novel by the famous poet, the school teacher of the title tries to convince his skeptical wife that mathematics can be poetic by reading to her from Lilavati.
(This one chapter was published separately as Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, 3 (1855), pages 257—62, and so I will consider it both as a short story and as an excerpt from a novel.) (more) 


Kim Possible (Episode: Mathter and Fervent) (2007) 
 Jim Peronto (script) 

This episode of the Disney animated TV series "Kim Possible" is a comic book parody featuring a mathematical villain.
As an English assignment, Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable have to write a paper... (more) 


Ladies' Night (2017) 
 Robert Dawson 

A card sharp known as "Lady Jane" attempts to swindle a statistician visiting Las Vegas for a conference. The plot twists and turns as it mentions things like the Monty Hall Problem, Game Theory, and... (more) 


Let's Consider Two Spherical Chickens (2016) 
 Tommaso Bolognesi 

Although it takes the form of a murder mystery, Bolognesi's "Let's Consider Two Spherical Chickens" really is more of an essay than a work of fiction. Like the other chapters from the collection in which... (more) 


Letters From Incompleteness (2021) 
 Jonah Howell 

This creative work of fiction takes the form of love letters from an unidentified narrator who has become obsessed with Kurt Gödel and his incompleteness theorems.
Some of the discussion of Gödel's... (more) 


The Lost Books of the Odyssey (2008) 
 Zachary Mason 

The introduction to this novel is a work of pseudoscholarship, explaining how the chapters to follow were decoded by an NSA cryptographer with the help of the author. The intro contains references to... (more) 


The Lottery in Babylon [La lotería en Babilonia] (1941) 
 Jorge Luis Borges 

In what is clearly a metaphor for the apparent randomness of life (and the theological implications that follow), the great Argentinian writer Borges crafts a tale about the all important lottery in a... (more) 


Love and a Triangle (1899) 
 Stanley Waterloo 

Julius Corbett, a man of fortune, is in love with an extraordinary woman, Nell Morrison, who is an astronomer. She has a particular penchant for Mars, an in particular, is trying to solve the problem... (more) 


Mad Destroyer (1930) 
 Fletcher Pratt 

The story is about a mathematician/astronomer who has discovered an exact solution to the multibody problem in gravitation i.e. a formula which can easily calculate the positions and velocities of N... (more) 


The Mad Mathematician (from ITV's Junior Maths) (1984) 
 ITV Schools 

Each episode of Junior Maths, a British children's TV program that was part of ITV Schools, featured a story about "The Mad Mathematician". For example, in this episode (currently available on YouTube),... (more) 


The Man of Forty Crowns (1768) 
 François Marie Arouet de Voltaire 

This classic, mordant commentary on the prevailing economic system in France in mid 18th century showcases a very long dialogue of 20+ pages between the narrator and a “geometrician”, taken to mean... (more) 


The Man Who Walked Through Mirrors (1939) 
 Robert Bloch 

A tongueincheek story making repeated fun of the common, misleading tagline which appeared in many sci fi magazines of the day, “Every Story Scientifically Accurate”.
Volmar Clark was a crackpot... (more) 


The Masters (1963) 
 Ursula K. Le Guin 

This short story, which takes place in a world where society is medieval and the sun is seen less than once per year, focuses on the mathematical advances brought about by the primary protagonist, Ganil.... (more) 


Mathemagics (1990) 
 Patricia Duffy Novak 

Kyria despises math and hates the fact that she is required to learn vector calculus at Salem University where she is studying magic. So, she determines to go back in time to learn how the ancient wizards... (more) 


The Mathematical Kid (1940) 
 Ross Rocklynne 

Ross Rocklynne had a specific style in many of his stories. Set up a very nonstandard astrophysical situation, and then solve it unconventionally. In “The Mathematical Kid”, he describes a young... (more) 


Mathematical Revelations (2021) 
 Helen De Cruz 

Like others in her culture, Priestess Kayla works on mathematical proofs and hopes to receive a message from her creator, the Supreme Mathematician :
I have never had a Mathematical Revelation in my... (more) 


Mathematician Proof (1920) 
 Ralph Ellison de Castro 

An utterly trite story about a genius of a mathematician (aren't they all? To wit, “he had the binomial theorem for breakfast, lunched on integral calculus and for his evening meal considered attempts... (more) 


A Mathematician's Love Story (1901) 
 James Richmond Aitken 

A very sensitive story of lifelong love full of silent heartache for a man whose mind was filled for the most part by mathematics and relentless questions about calculations of laws governing daily physical... (more) 



The Mathematicians (1953) 
 Arthur Feldman 

A father tells his daughter of an invasion of the Earth by aliens who were "the greatest mathematicians in the galaxy":
"Go on, papa. These beings overran all Earth. Go on from there."
"You must... (more) 


Mathematician’s Heaven (1912) 
 Hunter Frances 

An utterly trite, juvenile story which one wants to rescue only because of its long age and the fact that it was published in something as cutely named as “Tipyn O’bob” (a magazine run by students... (more) 


The Mathematics of Faith (2009) 
 Jonathan Wood 

The imprisoned mathematician in this story is trying to develop equations describing life:
Life is equal to the sum of behaviors we can perform and the time we have allotted to perform them. Let us... (more) 


Maths on a Plane (2008) 
 P T 

This story, about a student flirting with the attractive woman in the seat next to him on a plane, won the student category of the 2008 New Writers Award from Cambridge University's ``Plus+ Magazine''.... (more) 


A Matter of Geometry (1915) 
 Ared White 

Pythagoras Theorem (or some algebraic operations like squareroots or mental arithmetic) is a device used sometimes to stand in for mathematical erudition, intellectual thinking and the like. In “A... (more) 


The Mausoleum (2024) 
 Inderjeet Mani 

This is another very nice story by the author of The Book of Alephs. In this one, a man decorating a mausoleum with tiles violates the rules to honor his dead wife.
I'm really not sure that I consider... (more) 


Merlin Planet (1968) 
 E.G. Von Wald 

A lovely tale which merges mathematics / logic systems and magic to a satisfying conclusion. And what a great hook of a tagline in the story! “On Arrey, you could survive  as a frog. Unless you could... (more) 


Mersenne's Mistake (2008) 
 Jason Earls 

This is a nice piece of mathematical fiction in which the mathematician/monk Marin Mersenne encounters a demon with amazing mathematical skills. Like the other stories by Earls, this seems to be designed to showcase the interesting numbers which he has found using computer algebra tools.
(more) 


Message Found in a Copy of Flatland (1983) 
 Rudy Rucker 

This is the story that answers the age old question: "What if Flatland was in the basement of a Pakistani restaurant in London?".
The answer is scarier than you might think, especially when you
realize... (more) 


Mimsy Were the Borogoves (1943) 
 Lewis Padgett (aka Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore) 

Far in the future, humans have not only improved their digestive tracts
(eliminating the appendix and shortening their large intestine) and invented a time machine, but they have also invented educational
toys... (more) 


The Mobius Trail (1948) 
 George Smith 

One Mr. Joseph Kingsley, after years of toiling and tooling, creates an electrical gadget which ends up acting very much like an open wormhole with both ends of the wormhole accessible, the kind you... (more) 


Moby Dick (1851) 
 Herman Melville 

I honestly had no idea that there was anything mathematical about this classic novel until Allan Goldberg suggested I look at Sara Hart's article on the subject in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.
Of... (more) 


A Modern Comedy of Science (1936) 
 Issac Nathanson 

Prof. Newell “had a reputation for his profound researches into the realm of theoretical physics; a great mathematician in the thin heights where few could follow him. His lectures on the fourth dimension,... (more) 


The Moebius Room (1952) 
 Robert Donald Locke 

Tagline: “It was more than a vicious circle—it was a vicious square.”
A spyprisoner with no recollection of most of his identity or history (due to a suppressant chemical) finds himself trapped... (more) 


Monday Begins on Saturday (1966) 
 Arkady Strugatsky / Boris Strugatsky 

In this parody of the activity at Soviet research thinktanks, mathematics underlies the "science" of magic. Math is rarely discussed in depth and a knowledge of Russian fairy tales helps the reader to... (more) 


The Monty Hall Problem (2021) 
 Rebekah Bergman 

The narrator compares situations in dating life with the choices presented in classic puzzle games like the Monty Hall Problem. She is currently in a relationship with a man with 3 dogs who loves cereal,... (more) 


Mortal Immortal (1833) 
 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley 

This fantasy story by the author of Frankenstein, about a man who drinks a half dose of a potion that bestows immortality, is only borderline mathematical fiction. The only arguably mathematical part... (more) 


Morte di un matematico napoletano (1992) 
 Mario Martone (director) 

"This movie describes the last day in [the] life of a
famous Italian mathematician: Renato Caccioppoli. He was a fascinating and
discussed person in Naples' political and cultural life. [A] member... (more) 


Mrs. Warren's Profession (1894) 
 George Bernard Shaw 

This is Shaw's notorious play about poverty and prostitution, the
"profession" of the title. (The play itself was not performed in
public in the UK until 1925.)
Mrs. Warren has made her fortune... (more) 


Ms Fnd in a Lbry (1961) 
 Hal Draper 

Hal Draper took a break from his life's work of promoting Marxism,
and wrote one science fiction story. The information explosion, and
associated storage and retrieval problems, is humorously examined
in... (more) 



Musgrave Ritual (1893) 
 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

A tiny bit of mathematics is used by Sherlock Holmes
to solve this mystery. In it, he ties together the disappearance of a
housemaid, the discovery of the dead body of the chief butler and a strange
poem... (more) 


The Mystery of Khufu's Tomb (1935) 
 Talbot Mundy 

A rapidread, reasonably entertaining novel about the real location of the Pharaoh Khufu's (Cheops) tomb and the fabulous treasury buried therein. An old, Chinese mathematician spends decades decoding... (more) 


Narrow Valley (1966) 
 R.A. Lafferty 

This is a madcap story about a tract of land which is topologically folded through a shamanic incantation. Contains descriptions of some physical effects but explicitly states that the topological defect... (more) 


Nena's Math Force (2005) 
 Susan Jarema 

This picture book for children, which is available for free online and also in print, tells the story of a girl who is upset when her math teacher requires the class to do arithmetic without a calculator.... (more) 


A New Golden Age (1981) 
 Rudy Rucker 

In this story, and in our world as well, mathematicians lament the
fact that legislators cannot sufficiently appreciate mathematics and
that this adversely affects the funding of their science. To address
this... (more) 


No Chance (2001) 
 Guy Hasson 

While playing poker, a math professor and a biology professor discuss the manyworlds interpretation of quantum physics, with the mathematician offering what he sees as a mathematical argument proving... (more) 



Not a Chance (2009) 
 Peter Haff 

A student harangues his physics professor about the possibility that all mathematical proofs are incorrect. His argument is based on the supposed uncertainty about the validity of proofs of the Four Color... (more) 


Notes from the Underground (1864) 
 Fyodor Dostoevsky 

Part I
involves an unnamed rather crazed and unreliable narrator
(generally known as "the Underground Man") raving and rambling
against life, the universe, and everything. A few... (more) 


NullP (1951) 
 William Tenn 

The story extrapolates to great lengths (including a complete overthrow of humanity by smartly evolved canines) a simple principle: what might happen if we found a perfectly average man who had quantitative... (more) 


Number Stories of Long Ago (1919) 
 David Eugene Smith 

A really beautiful, wellcrafted book which presents a very wide variety of aspects of the history of number theory through fictional stories from Mesopotamia, Rome, Egypt, China, and many other places,... (more) 



An Old Arithmetician (1885) 
 Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman 

The title character of this short story, which appeared in the September 1885 issue of Harper's Weekly, is an old, uneducated woman who loves computing (with chalk and slate):
You have always been very... (more) 


The Old Mathematician (from Maschalk Manor) (1848) 
 Anonymous 

A very charming, humorous description of the final days of an old man who retires to a small Dutch hamlet where no one knows him. While any arrival of a stranger in a tiny community is always a cause... (more) 


The Old Mathematician (1848) 
 Dinah Maria Muloch 

A very touching story full of pathos, quite reflective of the Victorian era ethos in the midnineteenth century. The writing is highgrade, though math content itself is nonexistent, since the story... (more) 


On the Average (1953) 
 Frank Bryning 

Tagline: Critics of Dr. Rhine’s famed ESP experiments have eyed the Law of Averages with skepticism. In space those critics may triumph.
A story which highlights the fact that while statistics have... (more) 


On the Occasion Of Your Graduation (2011) 
 Robert Dawson 

A thesis advisor entrusts his Ph.D. student with the responsibility of determining what to do with his discovery that mathematics contains inconsistencies.
This is one of several works of fiction that... (more) 



The One Best Bet [Flashlight] (1911) 
 Samuel Hopkins Adams 

“Average Jones” is a collection of eleven tales of detection, solved by a very smart, young man, Mr. Jones. His catchy alias came about because “his parents had foredoomed him to it when they furnished... (more) 


Oracle (2000) 
 Greg Egan 

The protagonist, Robert Stoney is a british mathematician who worked on German codes during WW II, was greatly affected by the death of a close friend, and was later persecuted for his homosexuality. ... (more) 


Our Feynman Who Art in Heaven... (2007) 
 Paul Di Filippo 

A religious cult based on the Standard Model (of high energy physics)
has its headquarters in a tesseract.
This story, which is certainly more physical than mathematical, appears in the "Plumage from Pegasus" column in the February 2007 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction and is available for free at their website.
(more) 


Our Lady, Queen of Undecidable Propositions (2016) 
 Hugh C Culik 

A story that uses math as both a language and a metaphor for a poetic discussion of the human condition involving a Catholic priest.
Published in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Volume 6 Issue 2 (July 2016), pages 230240.
The math in this story is questionable, at best.
(more) 


The Outer Limits (Episode: Behold, Eck!) (1964) 
 John Mantley (screenplay) / William R. Cox (story) 

In this episode of the classic science fiction series Outer Limits, a 2dimensional being trapped in our world is aided by Dr. Stone, an engineer described as being an expert in "optical geometry" and... (more) 


Paint ‘Em Green (1967) 
 Burt Filer 

In some far future, after “the Asians had obliterated themselves with a dazzling atomic mistake”, former allies, Ambrija and Russia, found themselves as coldwar opponents once again, in a race for... (more) 


Percentage Player (1958) 
 Leslie Charteris 

A really hilarious and confusing tale which has to be read very slowly to get the full gist, as it happens in almost every single probability problem one tries to solve. How many times have you been... (more) 



Pi in the Sky (1983) 
 Rudy Rucker 

The story is about a family which finds an alien artifact on a beach while on vacation: a smooth cone with patterns of stripes on its surface and which produces sound in the same pattern. It turns out... (more) 


The Pikestaffe Case (1924) 
 Algernon Blackwood 

This quite unsatisfying yarn hangs its hat on the old idea of finding a way into a mirror to discover a new reality. The author waves his hands quite a bit to build an aura of mystery (by appealing... (more) 


Plane and Fancy (1944) 
 P. Schuyler Miller 

A wonderfully written yarn about a boy who envisions a nonEuclidean geometry, and conjures it up in reality to a very surprising effect... Along the way, there are strong shades of a RamanujanHardy... (more) 


Plane People (1933) 
 Wallace West 

A spaceoperatic story which implements Edwin Abbott's world of Flatland. A perfectly flat comet strikes earth at a glancing angle and sheers off a very small part, including a few people, who discover... (more) 


The Plattner Story (1896) 
 Herbert George Wells 

Gottfrieb Plattner disappears after an explosion for nine days.
Upon return, he recounts a strange tale of a parallel world.
More mathematically interesting, he discovers that he is now
lefthanded,... (more) 


Porter Piper (1849) 
 Anonymous 

A very light, very badly stereotyped, twodimensional story about one Porter Piper. He was a born genius, one destined to be a topclass mathematician. So much so that when he was delivered by his mother,... (more) 


The Power of Words (1845) 
 Edgar Allan Poe 

A very short work (twopages long!) in
which two angels discuss the divine implications of our ability to
mathematically determine the future consequences of an action, especially
wave propagation.... (more) 


Presque Vue (2021) 
 Tochi Onyebuchi 

A character deals with the voice in her head (which seems to like to do math), her aging parents, and her daughter.
I am grateful to Aidan Tompkins for bringing this short story to my attention, but... (more) 


PreVision (1936) 
 John Pierce 

The story hangs its hat on a clever observation made long ago by many physicists, including Einstein, about the nature of solutions of Maxwell's equations. Since the equations are timesymmetric, they... (more) 


Prime (2013) 
 Steve Erickson 

Because he is jealous of the relative success of colleagues he considers his intellectual inferiors, a mathematician kidnaps a celebrity to learn the numerical secret of fame.
The kidnapper in this... (more) 


Probabilitea (2019) 
 John Chu 

When it said at the beginning of this story that "Katie’s father...is a physical manifestation of Order and Chaos," I presumed at first it meant that metaphorically. In fact, it means that Katie's... (more) 


The Problem of Cell 13 (1907) 
 Jacques Futrelle 

"The story which introduces Professor S. F. X. van Dusen,
professional scientific supergenius, who lends his talents
to solving baffling mysteries. He is described as primarily
... (more) 


Professor Morgan's Moon (1899) 
 Stanley Waterloo 

A young mathematician asks for the hand of a senior mathematician's beautiful (and clever) daughter, but is refused on the grounds that his inability to support her financially was a mathematical certainty.... (more) 


The Professor's Experiments  The Dimension of Time (1910) 
 Paul Bold 

There were 6 madcap scifi stories written by the author about one Prof. Mudgewood in the collection, “The Professor’s Experiments”. The sixth and last one appeared in the Idler Magazine in 1910.... (more) 


Project Flatty (1956) 
 Irving Cox Jr. 

A very, very nice tale of a doublefake, of phantasmical scenes and nightmares which lead one Rex Bannard to question what is real, what is contrived imagination, and whether we are creatures shackled... (more) 


Proof by Induction (2021) 
 José Pablo Iriarte 

Paul Gifford is a waitingfortenure professor of mathematics at a university. His father, a professoremiritus of mathematics at the same university has just passed away. This death has come at a very... (more) 


The Proof of Bravery (2012) 
 David Milstein 

A soldier under Napoleon, whom the emperor himself called "the bravest of the brave", is granted immortal life by none other than Lazarus himself, and goes on to become a math professor at Davidson College... (more) 


The Purloined Letter (1844) 
 Edgar Allan Poe 

"This is the third and last C. Auguste Dupin mystery. The
Prefect of Paris police explains a very delicate situation
to Dupin, involving a royal letter whose possession grants
its bearer great... (more) 


Quarantine (1977) 
 Arthur C. Clarke 

For safety's sake, all organic life on the planet Earth has been
wiped out by automatic defenses. The investigator looking into
this regrettable turn of affairs in an otherwise promising species
discovers... (more) 


Question 3 (2016) 
 Martin Sandahl (Director and Writer) 

A short film about a boy with Asperger's Syndrome who competes in the International Mathematical Olympiad. However, neither the mathematical problems nor the boy's success in the competition is the main... (more) 


The Rapture of the Nerds (2004) 
 Cory Doctorow / Charles Stross 

This story is set in Stross's "Accelerando" series,
due for publication in novel form in 2005, offering
a worm's eye view of the "Vinge singularity", the
supposed moment in the coming decades... (more) 


Reading by Numbers (2009) 
 Aidan Doyle 

Elementary number theory and some superstitious numerology underlie this story, which appeared in the November 11, 2009 issue of the online Fantasy Magazine (though I would never describe this story as... (more) 


Recess (Episode: A Genius Among Us) (2000) 
 Brian Hamill 

This episode of Disney's Saturday Morning cartoon "Recess" is clearly a parody of the film "Good Will Hunting". I hope this doesn't lower anyone's opinion of me...but I personally liked it better than... (more) 


The Remarkable Case of Davidson's Eyes (1895) 
 Herbert George Wells 

Rather than seeing what is actually around him in England, Davidson sees
events occurring on a rock off of the Antipodes Island. The explanation
offered includes the notion of nonflat geometries for... (more) 


The Riddle of the Universe & Its Solution (1978) 
 Christopher Cherniak 

The literature is quite rich in the exploration of harmful memes which can take over the mind through the body’s sensory apparatus, effectively seizing up the brain into a coma or an endless loop.... (more) 


Riding the Crocodile (2005) 
 Greg Egan 

A couple from the race of “Amalgam” wanted to carry out one project before choosing to die after a life spanning tens of thousands of years: Establishing contact with the elusive race called... (more) 


The Robot's Math Lessons (2019) 
 Yoon Ha Lee 

In this very short story, intentionally incorrect mathematical formulas result in an unusual friendship between a servitor and a human child.
The story was posted as free "flash fiction" on the author's website and was published by Simon and Schuster in 2019 in an anthology of stories that take place in the same universe as Ninefox Gambit.
(more) 



The Root and the Ring (1954) 
 Wyman Guin 

This is a very smartly written story full of humor, weaving fantasy with a reasonable amount of mathematics to make one smile.
A throughly married man with 2 kids and one who is not very good with... (more) 


Round the Moon (1870) 
 Jules Verne 

This early science fiction novel about space travel (published originally in French, of course) contains two chapters with explicit (and very nice) mathematical content.
In Chapter 4 (A Little Algebra)... (more) 


The Rubbish Researchers Puzzle (2018) 
 Michael W. Lucht 

Thanks to Dr. Allan Goldberg for bringing to my attention this humorous short story about a math professor hiding in a New Zealand pub from an angry looking mob of blueeyed Pacific Islanders.
It concerns... (more) 


Rucker  A Life Fractal by Eli Halberstam (1991) 
 John Allen Paulos 

Like Lem's De Impossibilitate Vitae and Prognoscendi , this is a work of fiction that takes the form of a book review. (As Paulos explains in his introduction, "Reviewing [a] book which hasn't been written... (more) 


Sanatoris ShortCut (1948) 
 Jack Vance 

A wellwritten story about a happygolucky character called “Magnus Ridolph”. Magnus was one of those guys who are meticulous in their analyses in one sphere of life while being surprisingly unplanned... (more) 


Say Wen (1930) 
 Ellis Parker Butler 

If you have a story’s tagline as...
“I assure you that I am not an unduly formal woman, but I consider it decidedly undignified for a dean of a coeducational college to hold a Professor of Higher... (more) 


Scandal in the Fourth Dimension (1934) 
 Amelia Reynolds Long (as "A.R. Long") 

This is yet another pulp "scifi" story about a math professor who discovers the fourth dimension, and it barely mentions any math. However, there are two things I find interesting about it.
One is... (more) 


The Second Moon (1939) 
 Russell R. Winterbotham 

This is one wreckage of a story; bad pulp fiction written way back when. It does have one or two decent points for an alert reader, like the observation that the presence of complex numbers in physical... (more) 


The Secret Number (2000) 
 Igor Teper 

In this very cute story, a mathematician who believes that there is an integer between 3 and 4 tries to convince his psychiatrist that he is not crazy. The idea is not very deep, but it is well handled... (more) 


A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions (1991) 
 Kim Stanley Robinson 

This work of speculative fiction is not a traditional work of fiction with a plot and characters, but reads more like an essay about the chaotic nature of reality which includes some alternative histories... (more) 


The Seventh Stair (1961) 
 Frank Brandon 

Let this be a cautionary tale for all those who have not focused on polishing their mathematics skills. Someday, you may not be able to save a friend for lack of a suitable algebraic equation… As... (more) 


The Shadow of the God (1900) 
 Charles Newman Hall 

A cute, poeticallywritten story set in the Yucatan, where Ethel, her cousin, Tom, and Tom’s college friend, Whitman, went looking at the ruins of an ancient Aztec “Temple of Huitzilopochtli”.
Whitman... (more) 


The Shape of Things (1948) 
 Ray Bradbury 

Neither Peter Horn nor his wife ever expected that their child would be a small blue pyramid of another dimension!
The story is a very poignant vignette of a pregnant woman, Polly, who, through... (more) 


She Spies (Episode: Message from Kassar) (2003) 
 Vince Manze (script) / Joe Livecchi (script) / Steven Long Mitchell (script) 

Although I lived in the US and had a TV in 2003, I somehow completely missed “She Spies”. I had no idea such a show existed. And so, while watching this episode to see whether it really is “mathematical... (more) 


The Sigma Structure Symphony (2012) 
 Gregory Benford 

This story about humans in the distant future communicating with alien intelligences contains a lot of familiar ideas and some interesting new ones.
Ruth Angle is an employee at the SETI library on... (more) 


Silas P. Cornu's Dry Calculator (1898) 
 Henry Hering 

A very hilarious short story about a man who wants to build a mechanical calculator to evaluate logarithms but has success building a machine that can do only addition and multiplication. On the other... (more) 


The Simplest Equation (2014) 
 Nicky Drayden 

Mariah is a Stanford University math major who has lost her interest in the subject of mathematics. She is initially annoyed when Kwalla takes the seat next to hers in class. Kwalla is an alien with... (more) 


Singleton (2002) 
 Greg Egan 

This story involves a physicist and a mathematician who have a child  well, sort of  that they have specially designed to remain in a "classical" state (as opposed to a quantum superposition of states)... (more) 


The Sirdar's ChessBoard (1885) 
 Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer 

A military bride travelling in Afghanistan is surprised when a mystic is able to cut up a chess board ("with three snips of my scissors") and put it back together so that the number of squares has increased... (more) 



The Snowball Effect (1952) 
 Katherine Maclean 

A comedic look at how experiments, particularly those in which the researcher has little control over the variables, can get out of hand like an uncontrolled chainreaction with hilarious effects.
Prof.... (more) 


Space (1911) 
 John Buchan 

This mystical story, as recounted by a lawyer, is about a brilliant mathematician ("an erratic genius who had written some articles in Mind on that dreary subject, the mathematical conception of infinity",... (more) 


Space Bender (1928) 
 Edward Rementer 

This is another story which uses the convenient device of the fourth dimension for rapid spatial transport. This time, Prof. Jason Livermore is the one who disappears entirely from the face of the earth... (more) 


The Spacetime Pool (2008) 
 Catherine Asaro 

Janelle, recently graduated from MIT with a degree in math, is pulled through the "branch cut" between two universes to an alternate Earth where two sword wielding brothers rule half the world. There,... (more) 


The Square Cube Law (1952) 
 Fletcher Pratt 

JBS Haldane once wrote a wonderful article, “On Being the Right Size”, which can be found in James Newman’s “The World of Mathematics, Vol 2”. It encapsulates beautifully the idea that biologically,... (more) 


The Square Root of Pythagoras (1999) 
 Paul Di Filippo/Rudy Rucker 

Pythagoras has been granted the magical power of five numbers.
Along the way he discusses his theorem, the five Platonic solids,
and his general philosophy about numbers and the universe. But
he... (more) 


Squate (2022) 
 Tom Blackford 

In this cute story, a thirteen year old girl becomes good friends with the square root of eight. From "Squate", she learns not only facts about math but also things about other people who are working... (more) 


Star, Bright (1952) 
 Mark Clifton 

How would you feel if your daughter could make deep mathematical
discoveries, even when she was a toddler? If you were the parent of
little Star in this story, you'd feel a combination of pride and... (more) 


The Story of Yung Chang (1900) 
 Ernest Bramah (Ernest Bramah Smith) 

Before the invention of multiplication tables, a Chinese idol merchant must
sell his wares individually, even if someone wishes to purchase a large
amount, since he has no way to determine how much money... (more) 


Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893) 
 Lewis Carroll 

The sequel to his somewhat popular book "Sylvie and Bruno" never
achieved the popularity of the original. This lack of success may or
may not be related to Chapter VII (entitled "Mein Herr") of the... (more) 


The Tale of a Comet (1870) 
 Spencer Edward 

How many times have we wondered about the workings of dazzling, magical brains of the likes of Ramanujan? Of the potentially unearthly origins of brilliants intellects like Ed Witten? That perhaps one... (more) 


The Siege Of The "Lancashire Queen" (1906) 
 Jack London 

Describes how the capture of illegal shrimppoachers becomes a problem of triangular geometry and relative speeds of chase. In particular, the pirates, trapped on a ship, the chasing posse and the point... (more) 


Three Plates on the Table [Tres platos en la mesa] (1961) 
 José María Gironella 

An emotional, sensitively written example of a short story of magic realism, in the classic tradition of Borges and Cortazar. Most of the story revolves around the main character’s frame of existence,... (more) 


Through the Black Board (1943) 
 Joel Rogers 

The tagline of the story says:
“Unexpectedly Tossed into the Fourth Dimension, Little Mathematics Professor Noel Gouf Has an Amazing Chance to Solve All of His Persona! Problems While Time Stands... (more) 


Tiger by the Tail (1951) 
 A.G. Nourse 

A pocketbook contains a gateway to another universe, and a group of unlikely heroes tries to save ours from the aliens there by reaching in and grabbing it.
This is a cute short story, with a notparticularlysound... (more) 


The Time Axis (1949) 
 Henry Kuttner 

This was published as an Ace paperback in 1965. I don't think I have a copy of the paperback in my collection, but I have the original magazine publication, in the January 1949 issue of Startling Stories.... (more) 


The Time Machine (1895) 
 Herbert George Wells 

This famous early science fiction novel opens with a clever (and, if you
think ahead to the role of Minkowski Space in special relativity,
prophetic) lecture on "the fourth dimension". Of course, discussions... (more) 


Topsyturvy (Sans Dessus Dessous) (1889) 
 Jules Verne 

The members of the Gun Club want to use a giant cannon's recoil to change the Earth's rotation axis, so they can exploit the presumed coalfields at the North Pole. An unfortunate side effect is that... (more) 


The Triangular House [La Casa Triangular] (1925) 
 Ramon Gomez de la Serna 

Adolfo Sureda had made a lasting promise to himself: to have a house of unique architecture built for him and his bride, Remedios.
For this, he commissioned a recent graduate of architecture who... (more) 


The Turing Enigma (2011) 
 Peter Wild (Screenwriter and Director) 

Maths professor Jonah Block finds himself in possession of a 50 year old postcard from Alan Turing over which people have been killed. He quickly realizes it is the (literal) key to decoding a series... (more) 


Turing's Apples (2008) 
 Stephen Baxter 

Story about a faraway civilization transmitting a complex message in all directions, containing a software program (“Turing machine”) which ends up creating von Neumann machines with one... (more) 


Twentyseven Uses for Imaginary Numbers (2009) 
 Buzz Mauro 

A teenage boy's discovery of the joys of Euler's formula coincides with the awakening of his homosexual desires. The author's mathematical understanding is very good, and the story reminded me of young... (more) 


Two by Zero (2010) 
 Garth Upshaw 

This is another fantasy story in which mathematical formulae are magical spells which can summon demons.
It begins with the line
I, Orlen D’Hamilton, manifested an almost perfect categorythree... (more) 


The Ultimate Analysis (1944) 
 John Russell Fearn 

This one is a hurriedly thrown together mishmash of mathematical statements which make no sense when examined individually but taken together, form a breathless pulp story about a mathematician who... (more) 


The Universal Library [Die Universalbibliothek] (1901) 
 Kurd Lasswitz 

This early "science fiction" story explores the notion of a library containing every possible five hundred page book and an English translation appears in the classic mathematical fiction collection Fantasia... (more) 


The Universe Broke Down (1941) 
 Robert Arthur 

Jeremiah Jupiter was an extremely rich, eccentric genius who built an antenna which could take some strange meteorite material called “magna” and amplify cosmic rays to disintegrate the magna, giving... (more) 


Unreasonable Effectiveness (2003) 
 Alex Kasman 

"Unreasonable Effectiveness" reminds me of a classic Arthur C. Clarke style
short story. It has exactly enough mathematics done correctly and a twist that
boggles the mind at the end. To be fair... (more) 


Until Tomorrow, Then (2010) 
 Shaun Hamill (writer and director) 

A short film about a young mathematician obsessed with working out the "rate the universe is running down" so that he can determine time that the universe will end.
One of the two other characters... (more) 


The Valley of Fear (1916) 
 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

Having introduced Sherlock Holmes' most famous enemy, Professor
Moriarty, as a mathematician in an earlier
story, Doyle provides us with just a small glimpse of his
mathematical genius (as opposed to... (more) 


The Vanishing Man (1926) 
 Richard Hughes 

A very flimsy, lazy “story” about a professor who was writing a book called, “Multidimensional Perspective” with the narrator, and in the course of his investigations, found the fourth dimension,... (more) 


Vanishing Point (1959) 
 C.C. Beck 

The short story is another take on the true nature of reality and one man's quest to unmask it. It is more an idea piece than a fullfledged development. An artist, Carter, who is a trained mathematician... (more) 


A Victim of Higher Space (1917) 
 Algernon Blackwood 

This is another of the John Silence talltales, this time involving a man who learns to visualize 4dimensional space and then starts slipping in and out of the hyperspace. As he describes it,
"This... (more) 


War and Peace (1869) 
 Lev Tolstoy 

Tolstoy's famous novel about...well, about war and peace (!) contains long passages explaining an analogy he makes between history and calculus. In particular, he argues that we should view history as... (more) 


We (1924) 
 Yevgeny Zamyatin 

Like 1984, We is a book about a utopia gone wrong. In fact, it is acknowledged as a source which Orwell used when writing his more famous dystopian novel. (We was written in Russian in 1921, published... (more) 


What Are the Odds? (2006) 
 Justin Spitzer (writer) / Matthew Tritt (director) 

Two extremely nerdy strangers who keep running into each other in New York City are surprised to learn that they both "study applied mathematics" and are attending the same conference on "stochastic processes... (more) 


What the Revolution Requires (2020) 
 Timons Esaias 

A minimalist short story in which an author seeks to write a ground breaking work of mathematical fiction:
Raymond had several plotlines laid out, all their steps organized and ready. He intended to... (more) 


What the Tortoise Said to Achilles (1895) 
 Lewis Carroll 

A very short dialoguestory, where the Tortoise teaches Achilles that in the strictest sense of Logic, the process of inference from even 2 propositions to an almost automaticallyimplied third proposition... (more) 



The Woman Who Shook the WorldTree (2012) 
 Michael Swanwick 

A mathematical prodigy (she derived her own version of calculus to compute volumes when she was only seven years old, and by age 18 she had three PhD.s, including one in a field she had invented) teams... (more) 


The Young Mathematician (1832) 
 Anonymous 

A very lightweight story about a sixteenyear old girl, Laura (daughter of one Mr. Sinclair), who did not like mathematics. As she and her mother spoke one day:
‘Oh, mother,’ she exclaimed,... (more) 


The Young Philosopher  A Sketch For Parents (1852) 
 Sylvanus Cobb, Jr.. 

Another short story which highlights the prejudices the society had toward the measure of “intelligence” and the inability to recognize the large range of human abilities at a young age, where the... (more) 


Zilkowski's Theorem (2003) 
 Karl Iagnemma 

This is a story of a love triangle with a definite mathematical twist. Henderson's roommate, Czogloz, steals away his girlfriend, Milla, when all three were math graduate students. Years later, seeking... (more) 
