
1 to 999 (1981) 
 Isaac Asimov 

When cryptologists try to break a simple code, one of the key clues is
the frequency with which letters appear. In English, the letter "a"
is one of the most frequently used letters. It is therefore... (more) 


1963 (1993) 
 Alan Moore 

A sixissue series, one of the best of the retro comics out
there. this is Moore's ingenious pastiche of Marvel comics in
the critical (for Marvel and for the world) year 1963. Strange
things... (more) 


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) 


A. Botts and the Moebius Strip (1945) 
 William Hazlett Upson 

William Hazlett Upson wrote a series of pieces for the Saturday Evening Post about a salesman for The Earthworm Tractor Company, written as a dialog of letters and memos between Alexander Botts and his... (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) 


The Adventures of Topology Man (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

Parody is easy....topology is hard!
In this short story, I made use of (and made fun of) the classic superhero comic book genre to illustrate some ideas from topology. So, we end up seeing a battle... (more) 


After Math (1997) 
 Miriam Webster 

The ghost of math professor Ray Bellwether tries to solve the mystery of
his own murder in this `first novel' by Amy Babich (Webster is just a
pseudonym). Babich has a Ph.D. in mathematics (and a Master's... (more) 


Against the Day (2006) 
 Thomas Pynchon 

This novel, set in the time frame 1890s to 1920s interleaves several
plots and styles, from boys' adventures to peacetime spies to gunslingers'
revenges. The forces of progress stomp over all the... (more) 


Albert's Bridge (1967) 
 Tom Stoppard 

A radio play about a philosophy graduate student who gets a job painting the Clufton Bay Bridge. It takes him and three other workers exactly two years to paint the entire bridge, at which time they must... (more) 


Aleph Sub One (1948) 
 Margaret St. Clair 

This is a little known story by a well known author from the Golden Age of Science Fiction. The math content is high, and it's a good story, definitely belongs on your Mathematical Fiction page.
From... (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) 


Along Came Polly (2004) 
 John Hamburg (Writer and Director) 

[This film] stars Ben Stiller as riskassessing Actuary Reuben Feffer and Jennifer Aniston as love interest Polly Prince. Because Feffer must know the risks inherent in many situations, he becomes inhibited... (more) 


And Be a Villain (1948) 
 Rex Stout 

Rex
Stout and his seventy some Nero Wolfe novels are generally regarded as
amongst the greatest mystery novels ever written. They read as fresh today
as when the series started in 1934, and they... (more) 


And He Built a Crooked House (1940) 
 Robert A. Heinlein 

A clever architect designs a house in the shape of the shadow of a
tesseract, but it collapses (through
the 4th dimension) when an earthquake shakes it into a more stable form (which takes up very... (more) 


An Angel of Obedience (2010) 
 John Giessmann 

Due to his new obsession with fractal geometry, thirteen yearold prodigy Jackson Carter has just ended an illustrious career as a classical musician and enrolled as a math major at Harvard. There he... (more) 


Annals of Klepsis (1983) 
 R.A. Lafferty 

A wacky scifi adventure comedy featuring space pirates. There is not much math in the book, but the central plot revolves around a mathematical ``doomsday equation'' and the goal of preventing the horrible... (more) 



The Argentine Ant (2017) 
 T.C. Boyle 

A mathematician, his wife, and their baby who suffers from a skin sensitivity condition uproot their lives and move to a new city:
This was an adventure, pure and simple. Or more than an adventure;... (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) 


The Atrocity Archives (2004) 
 Charles Stross 

"The Laundry" is a British spy organization which is responsible for suppressing certain dangerous math research. The occult implications of mathematics became clear with Alan Turing's paper "Phase Conjugate... (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) 


Barking (2007) 
 Tom Holt 

Duncan Hughes has had a rather monotonous and trite career as an
estate and tax lawyer when suddenly werewolves, vampires, zombies,
and one impossibly alluring unicorn, along with his exwife and his
old... (more) 


The Barking Clock (1947) 
 Harry Stephen Keeler / Hazel Goodwin Keeler 

Tuddleton T. Trotter, author of a book which claims that all criminal mysteries can be solved mathematically, has only hours to save Joe Czeszczicki, a death row inmate soon to be electrocuted for the... (more) 


Been a long, long time (1970) 
 R.A. Lafferty 

It's a very wellwritten humorous tale (as expected if you're familiar with Lafferty). The mathematical content is a literal interpretation of the six typing monkeys. The angel Boshel, as a punishment,... (more) 


Bellwether (1996) 
 Connie Willis 

A statistician studying the causes of fads and a chaos theorist studying the behavior of animals write a joint grant proposal for a project involving sheep. That may not sound like a winning book summary,... (more) 


The Better Mousetrap (2008) 
 Tom Holt 

The Better Mousetrap is the fifth book in Tom Holt's
series that began with The Portable Door. The first
four books told the adventures of Paul Carpenter, a fairly
boring nobody who joined the... (more) 


Bianca (1984) 
 Nanni Moretti (director and screenplay) 

A math teacher (played by Nanni Moretti himself) has odd obsessions and compulsions in this film, including his crush on colleague Bianca. Although his antisocial behavior seems to be destroying his... (more) 


The Big Short (2015) 
 Charles Randolph (writer) / Adam McKay (writer and director) 

Although I did very much enjoy this creative fictional adaptation of Michael Lewis' nonfictional account of mortgage induced US housing price collapse, I did not initially include it in this database.... (more) 


Bill, the Galactic Hero (1965) 
 Harry Harrison 

The famed parody of Asimov and Heinlein. Amongst other issues,
the book asks what happens to all the garbage from a one city
planet (a la Trantor from FOUNDATION)? It seems to be a losing
... (more) 


The Birds (BC414) 
 Aristophanes 

In one scene of this classic Greek play, the geometer Meton appears
and...well, it's pretty short. So why should I summarize it when I can
simply reproduce it here!
(Enter
METON, With surveying... (more) 


Borzag and the Numerical Apocalypse (2006) 
 Jason Earls 

I must warn you that I am a trained mathematician, but NOT a trained expert on literature. Among other consequences, this means that I sometimes have trouble telling the difference between brilliant,... (more) 


By a Fluke (1955) 
 Arthur Porges 

A liver fluke describes its life (from hatching from an egg to its final moments) to an alien who is recording it. As it turns out, these trematatode parasites are not as dumb as we think. In fact, they... (more) 


Calculated Magic (1995) 
 Robert Weinberg 

In this sequel to A Logical Magician, the mathematically trained wizard's assistant returns to fight evil monsters in Vegas and save his fiance (Merlin's daughter) from Hell.
I do like the idea that... (more) 


Calculating God (2000) 
 Robert J. Sawyer 

Though it is considerably less mathematical than Factoring Humanity, it holds together a bit better as a novel. Here, we encounter aliens who view the existence of god (a creator of the universe) as a... (more) 


Calculus and Pizza (2003) 
 Clifford Pickover 

A pizza chef teaches calculus to his restaurant patrons. Romance and hilarity ensue.
(more) 


Cardano and the Case of the Cubic (2005) 
 Jeff Adams 

This parody of early 20th century "Hard Boiled Private Detective" novels is instead a short story about 16th century mathematician Gerolamo Cardano.
Its opening paragraphs clearly set the tone:
It... (more) 


The Case of the Flying Hands (2001) 
 Harry Stephen Keeler / Hazel Goodwin Keeler 

Quiribus Brown, a 7 1/2 foot tall man raised on a farm by a retired mathematician who taught him nothing but math, must solve four crimes using mathematics or be imprisoned on charges of perjury by his... (more) 


The Cat in Numberland (2006) 
 Ivar Ekeland (author) / John O'Brien (illustrator) 

This picture book uses the idea of a hotel with infintely many rooms for introducing some advanced concepts about numbers and infinity to children. The hotel, run in the book by "Mr. and Mrs. Hilbert",... (more) 


The Center of the Universe (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

This short story was intended to serve two different purposes. On the one hand it is a glimpse into the lives and interactions of mathematics graduate students. And, on the other, it addresses the philosophical... (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) 


Chronicles of a Comer (1972) 
 K.M O'Donnell (aka Barry N. Malzberg) 

A short story about a statistician who believes in the
second coming of Christ and looks for it in the statistical
correlations between the events and people's reactions to
those events (e.g. "14%... (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) 


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) 


The Coincidence Engine (2011) 
 Sam Leith 

A tongueincheek, easyread, quite enjoyable romp of a story about a reclusive mathematician named “Bancharski”, a play on the names of mathematicians Banach and Tarski (unfortunately, BanachTarski... (more) 


Cryptonomicon (1998) 
 Neal Stephenson 

This "cult" novel of mathematics, computer science, espionage and
warfare follows a mathematician through World War II and his grandson
through the creation of a (less than ordinary) silicon valley startup
company.... (more) 


The Cyberiad (1967) 
 Stanislaw Lem 

I was perusing your site and I happened to think of a great addition to your list. It's by Polish philosopher Stanislaw Lem and called "The Cyberiad". It's about the adventures of two super "inventors"... (more) 


The Dark Side of the Sun (1976) 
 Terry Pratchett 

This humorous science fiction novel tells the tale of Dom Salabos, who believes he is destined to become "Chairman of the Board of Widdershins and heir to riches untold", but his allies familiar with pmath... (more) 


De Impossibilitate Vitae and Prognoscendi (1971) 
 Stanislaw Lem 

This is a philosophical discourse (intended as a parody, but I swear
I've read serious papers that were very much like it) in which the
author argues that probablity theory makes no sense since it is... (more) 


A Deadly Medley of Smedley (2003) 
 Feargus Gwynplaine MacIntyre 

Paradox Patrol officer Julie Anne Callender, with the help of her brother
Gregorian and her uncle Newgate, track down yet again the timecrime master
of evil Smedley Faversham (and atrocious punmeister)... (more) 



Delicious Rivers (2006) 
 Ellen Maddow 

This collage of absurd and entertaining scenes at a NYC post office (and the music and choreography to which they are performed) were all inspired by the mathematics of Penrose Tilings. In particular,... (more) 


A Deprogrammer's Tale (2000) 
 Colin Adams 

This spoof presents the attempts of math professors to convince students to become math majors and the subsequent interest of those students in math as if it were a religious cult. Told from the point... (more) 


The Devil a Mathematician Would Be (1962) 
 A.J. Lohwater 

This clever short story that captures the feeling of a math problem that "gets under your skin" was printed in
The Mathematical Magpie
and was said to have been "collected" by A.J. Lohwater. Well, I... (more) 


The Devil and Simon Flagg (1954) 
 Arthur Porges 

Mathematicians know the feeling of trying to prove something you
really believe to be true, but has never been proven. There is
pleasure in doing this, like solving a puzzle, but also frustration
and... (more) 


The Devil and the Lady (1930) 
 Alfred Tennyson 

Although first published in 1930, this humorous and beautifully worded play was written by the famous poet more than 100 years earlier when he was less than 14 years old. One character is a mathematician... (more) 


The Devil You Don't (1970) 
 Keith Laumer 

The devil (who is not such a bad guy after all) seeks help from a quantum physics expert to fight off some aliens (who are not so evil either) that happen to disrupt the "Randomness Field". This disruption... (more) 


Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987) 
 Douglas Adams 

Douglas Adams is best known for his wacky Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Galaxy series. But his two Dirk Gently novels, while
maintaining Adams' characteristic high wackiness, also carry
... (more) 


The Discrete Charm of the Turing Machine (2017) 
 Greg Egan 

This story is funnier and less mathematical than most of Greg Egan's writing. It concerns the spontaneous evolution of artificial intelligence within the global computer network. But, rather than destroying... (more) 


Do the Math: A Novel of the Inevitable (2008) 
 Philip Persinger 

A math graduate student becomes an intern for a math professor famous for his `theory of inevitability' but ends up also helping his wife (an even more famous author of romance novels) write a book using... (more) 


Doctor Who: The Turing Test (2000) 
 Paul Leonard 

Mathematician Alan Turing appears as a primary character in this unusual Doctor Who novel, and narrates the first third of it. (The other two thirds are narrated by authors Graham Greene and Joseph Heller... (more) 


Doing our Babbage (1992) 
 Ira Slobodien 

The mind of 19th century mathematician Charles Babbage is brought back to life in electronic/mechanical form, becomes involved in a kinky "love rectangle" with the three scientists responsible (two women... (more) 


Don Juan oder die Liebe zur Geometrie (1953) 
 Max Frisch 

In this German play, sometimes presented in English translation as "Don Juan or the Love of Geometry", the famous lover explains to the audience that the other authors who have written about him have gotten it all wrong; it is mathematics and not women that he truly loves.
Thanks to Thorben Brunschötte for bringing this work of mathematical fiction to my attention. (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) 


Dude, can you count? (2010) 
 Christian Constanda 

Utilizing the entertaining contrivance of an extraterrestrial who visits human math conferences to evaluate our intelligence, Constanda tells us what he thinks is wrong with math education today. Following... (more) 


Erasmus with Freckles [aka Dear Brigitte] (1963) 
 John Haase 

The novel Erasmus with Freckles (1963) about a college English professor who hates math and science whose son is a math prodigy, was adapted into the film Dear Brigitte (1965) and rereleased as a novel... (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) 


Evil Genius (2005) 
 Catherine Jinks 

I am pleased to report that the titular "evil genius" in this children's novel is not the stereotypical cold mathematician in so many other works of mathematical fiction. In fact, the title character... (more) 


A Fable for Moderns (1951) 
 Lord Dunsany 

A bank employee becomes bored with the restrictions of arithmetic and decides to let his mathematical computations enjoy the freedom of "modern" poets and artists. Although he loses his job at the bank,... (more) 


Family Ties (Episode: My Tutor) (1985) 
 Jace Richdale (Screenplay) / Sam Weisman (Director) 

I'm writing to bring your attention to a television episode for
possible addition to your mathematical fiction website. The television
show is "Family Ties" and the episode is entitled, "My Tutor".... (more) 


The Favor (1994) 
 Donald Petrie (Director) / Sara Parriott (Writer) / Josann McGibbon (Writer) 

A romantic comedy in which a woman married to a math professor wonders what it would have been like to have been with her old boyfriend and so convinces her girlfriend to sleep with him and report back.... (more) 


The Fermata (1994) 
 Nicholson Baker 

This book is certainly more about sex than it is about mathematics. However, I find the one mathematical passage in it so hilarious that I have to include it here.
The premise of the book is that the... (more) 


Fermat's Last Tango (2000) 
 Joanne Sydney Lessner / Joshua Rosenblum 

Fermat's Last Tango is an intelligently written, hilarious fantasia
based on Andrew Wiles' 1993 proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. The main plot consists of a love triangle between Daniel
Keane... (more) 


The First Task of My Internship (2020) 
 Ziyin Xiong 

In this short piece (which is more of an extended joke than a story), the narrator is tasked with devising a method to literally fulfill The Olive Garden's promise of "unlimited breadsticks". Some of... (more) 


Flatterland: like Flatland, only more so (2001) 
 Ian Stewart 

In this "sequel" to Flatland, popular
mathematics writer Ian Stewart lets us accompany the granddaugther of the
original "A. Square" who starred in original classic, as she learns about
fractal 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) 



A Foundation in Wisdom (2012) 
 Robert Loyd Watson 

A hitchhiker named Sheridan captivates the man kind enough to offer him a ride with fantastic tales of the Roman village of Ebon and the hero named Marcus who saved it from a giant dachshund named Dachy.
Both... (more) 


Four Brands of Impossible (1964) 
 Norman Kagan 

In the futuristic 1980's, a math student graduates from multiversity and gets a job with a megacorporation which is trying to do the impossible, literally. Along with his friends (a psychologist and an... (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) 


A Frayed Knot (2009) 
 Felix Culp 

Culp takes a classic mystery by Poe and retells it with knotted ropes taking the place of people. For example:
Tyler Trefoil was a Bowline knot....Saltyfibered seafaring knots such as Trefoil  as... (more) 


Freemium (2021) 
 Louis Evans 

A man whose ethically questionable internet scheme made him a billionaire gets even more rich and powerful when unknown aliens provide him with factorizations of large integers and predictions of the stock... (more) 


Freud's Megalomania: A Novel (2001) 
 Israel Rosenfield 

This is an intriguing piece of work, mixing fact
with fiction and different styles (from the scientific essay to
the diary), probably best understood as an ironic look upon the
"Freud wars".... (more) 


Futurama (TV Series) (1999) 
 David S. Cohen (David X. Cohen) / Ken Keeler / Jeff Westbrook 

Another Matt Groening cartoon TV show (like the Simpsons) that includes many mathematical "in jokes". The website simpsonsmath.com/futuramamath includes discussion of these jokes and the mathematical... (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 Gangs of New Math (2005) 
 Robert W. Vallin 

This humorous short story about a brawl in a pub of mathematicians appeared in the November 2005 issue of Math Horizons magazine. There is quite a bit of "mathematical namedropping" in the form of quick... (more) 


Genghis Khan and 888 (2005) 
 Jason Earls 

As one might guess from the title of the literary journal in which it was published ("Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens #4"), this story is a bit strange. According to the author, it is absurdist... (more) 


The Geometrics of Johnny Day (1941) 
 Nelson Bond 

Old MacDonald had a firm, and in that firm he had a young mathematician who wanted to win his daughter's hand in marriage. MacDonald was skeptical:
""Ye want a job, eh? And just what is it that ye... (more) 


Getaway from Getawehi (1969) 
 Colin Kapp 

Colin Kapp has written a few stories which have some good, hard SF mixed up with highly tongueincheek, believable flights of fancy. The present story is set on the single planet, Getawehi, of a rogue... (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) 


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 Girl with the Celestial Limb (1990) 
 Pauline Melville 

Although recognized as mathematically talented in school, Jane Cole hid from all things intellectual after having a frightening epiphany regarding infinity. Math, however, seemingly exacts its revenge... (more) 


The Givenchy Code (2005) 
 Julie Kenner 

You've got to love the tag lines for this book: "A heelbreaking adventure in codebreaking that will bring out the math geek and the fashionista in you". "Cryptography is the new black".
A woman with... (more) 



Goldman's Theorem (2009) 
 R.J. Stern 

Hired by the littleknown "University of Northern Vermont", Professor Goldman does not seem to be living up to his promise as a great math researcher. Under pressure from his superiors, he claims to have... (more) 


A Good Problem to Have (2014) 
 B.J. Novak 

A fourth grade math class is interrupted by an old man who bursts in claiming that he was the inventor of the train problem:
"That's my problem," said the man.
He stared at us all at once, somehow,... (more) 


Gravity's Rainbow (1973) 
 Thomas Pynchon 

In this novel "there's "mathematicians'
graffiti" and a lot of musing on the Poissoncurve. See, for ex. page 140 in
the Pengiun 20th century classics edition.
I was impressed with Pynchon's... (more) 


Gulliver's Travels (1726) 
 Jonathan Swift 

If you are lucky enough to find an unabridged version of
Swift's classic book, you will be able to read (among descriptions of
the people of many other unbelievable countries) about the people of
Laputa.... (more) 


Harvey Plotter and the Circle of Irrationality (2011) 
 Nathan Carter / Dan Kalman 

Harvey Plotter, who has a scar shaped like a radical sign on his forehead, must find all of the rational points on the circularum unititatus before the evil Lord Voldemorphism.
The reader follows... (more) 


The Heart on the Other Side (1962) 
 George Gamow 

A math professor and his beloved girlfriend try to imagine how they could win the approval of her father for their marriage. She laments that he could only do so by being helpful in her father's profession,... (more) 


Hilbert's Hotel (1999) 
 Ian Stewart 

Another take on the idea (attributed to lectures by David Hilbert) that the bizarre properties of the countably infinite can best be presented through the analogy of a hotel. Here, Mr. and Mrs. Smith... (more) 


Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979) 
 Douglas Adams 

Everyone ought to read this trilogy of four (or is it five now?) books that brilliantly combine science fiction with the drollest of British humor. Despite my high regard for it, I've not added it to... (more) 


The HolmesGinsbook Device (1969) 
 Isaac Asimov 

A scientist recounts how, stung by his former professor
hogging all the credit for figuring out a way to safely
light cigarettes and girlwatch at the same time, he and
... (more) 


A House for Living (2020) 
 Nicolette Polek 

A very short story (not quite two pages) about an insecure mathematician:
The mathematician moves into a glass condominium with fourteen doors and has nightmares about the rooms behind them switching... (more) 


How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010) 
 Charles Yu 

Fans of mathematical fiction are likely to love the selfreferential nature of this novel about a timemachine repairman whose future self travels back in time to give him a novel about a timemachine... (more) 


I Had to Call In a Mathematician (2019) 
 Erik Talvila 

This short story published in the Mathematical Intelligencer answers the age old question "What if math was more like plumbing?"
“Hi Janice. It's Mort. I've got another problem here and I've... (more) 


I of Newton (1970) 
 Joe Haldeman 

In this short story a mathematics professor accidentally summons a demon
by cursing while working on a problem involving integration. The devil
brags
that he is able to disprove Fermat's last theorem,... (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 Idiot (2017) 
 Elif Batuman 

A farce about a TurkishAmerican Harvard freshman. As she is trying to figure out who she is and what academia is about, she meets an older math major with whom she develops both a romantic and intellectual... (more) 


The Imaginary Number (1956) 
 Yizhak Oren 

In this peculiar and humorous story, a complete stranger
shows up at physicist Benjamin's door, with an imaginary
tale of their childhood friendship, marriage to twin sisters,
and his deed to certain... (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) 


Incomplete Proofs (2012) 
 John Chu 

This unusual piece combines equal parts fashion industry and math research, with a dash of fantasy and just a pinch of homoeroticism. Grant does a favor for his old partner, Duncan, by modeling his new... (more) 


The Indefatigable Frog (1953) 
 Philip K. Dick 

A parody of science utilizing the old "Zeno's Paradox". Originally appeared in Fantastic Story Magazine (July 1953) and republished
recently in The Ascent of Wonder.
A funny story where annoyingly... (more) 


The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells (Episode: The Truth about Pyecraft) (2001) 
 Chris Harrald (Script) / Clive Exton (Script) / Herbert George Wells (story) 

Please correct me if I'm mistaken here, but it seems that the 2001 TV miniseries The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells took the story ``The Truth about Pyecraft'', which has no math in it, and made the main... (more) 


Infinities (2002) 
 John Barrow 

This play, written by Cambridge cosmologist John Barrow, has been produced and performed in Italy (Milan and Valencia). It is made up of five separate vignettes several of which touch on the deep mathematics... (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) 


The Integral: A Horror Story (2009) 
 Colin Adams 

This story, which he claims is an attempt to emulate Stephen King, is different from many of Adams' others. This may explain why it was published for the first time in his 2009 collections Riot at the... (more) 


Into Thin Air (2000) 
 Colin Adams 

This was the first of Colin Adams' ``Mathematically Bent'' columns for the Mathematical Intelligencer, published back in Vol.22, No. 1, 2000. It combines many of the analogies between mountain climbing... (more) 


Izzy at the Lucky Three (1996) 
 Eliot Fintushel 

There are two kinds of weird: good weird and bad weird. This story
is the third kind. I mean, what can you say about a story in which the
Yiddishe mystic Izzy encounters
the demon spirit who created... (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) 


Journey into Geometries (1997) 
 Marta Sved 

It is styled after a frequentlyused device: "Alice in X", where X can be any kind of space which you wish to explain to the gentle reader. In this instance, Alice, along with Lewis Carroll and a Doctor... (more) 


Journey to the Center of Mathematics (2006) 
 Colin Adams 

A parody of the classic Jules Verne tale, which reads like what Woody Allen would have written if he had taken math instead of philosophy at NYU:
The next day, we booked travel on a steamer across the... (more) 


Kazohinia [A Voyage to Kazohinia] (1941) 
 Sándor Szathmári 

This novel features a Gulliverlike character (coincidentally named "Gulliver") who washes ashore in a strange land after a shipwreck. He first stays with the extremely logical Hins, who are always sensible... (more) 


A Killer Theorem (2007) 
 Colin Adams 

Mangum, P.I. returns in this mystery in which the unproven Gauss' Last Lemma is wielded as a murder weapon. Apparently, a certain approach to proving it is so enticing that merely showing it to mathematicians... (more) 


The Killion (1982) 
 Ian Frazier 

Fans of Monty Python will recall the joke so funny that anyone who reads it dies laughing. Frazier brings us the mathematical analogue: a number so big that it kills anyone who tries to think about it.... (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) 


The Law (1947) 
 Robert M. Coates 

In this story, the "law of averages" ceases to apply (so that, for instance, everyone in Manhattan decides to drive across the Triborough Bridge on the same evening). As a result, it is necessary for... (more) 


Le théorème de Travolta (2002) 
 Olivier Courcelle 

The adventures of a young mathematician
trapped in the curious and delirious world of a
mathematical congress. A cross between
David Lodge and Groucho Marx.
I believe it has not been translated
into english (but should)
Very funny description of the mathematical world. Excellently written. Delirious.
(more) 


Legacy of Light (2009) 
 Karen Zacarías 

Two tales of discovery and pregnancy are told in this play. An astrophysicist at the Newton Institute whose team has discovered evidence of a planet in formation feels that she is too old to be pregnant... (more) 


The Legend of Howard Thrush (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

I always have enjoyed the American folk tale, a medium in which one pretends to be speaking earnestly and in all sincerity about a history so ridiculous that it it simply cannot be taken seriously. There... (more) 


Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy,
The Gentleman (1759) 
 Laurence Sterne 

Michele Benzi wrote to recommend that I add this classic novel, which was critically praised when it first appeared and then fell in esteem due to accusations of plagiarism. Benzi writes:
I was surprised... (more) 


life.exe (2006) 
 Jason Rogers 

This work of fiction is not strictly narrative. It is hard to say what is happening since the characters live in the world of "the matrix". Not like the Wachowski Bros.'s epic trilogy of films (though... (more) 


The Limit (2019) 
 Freya Smith / Jack Williams 

This poprock musical about the life of mathematician Sophie Germain was performed in March 2019 at the VAULT festival in London.
The playwrights were supposedly looking for a historical female character... (more) 


Little People (2002) 
 Tom Holt 

Tom Holt is generally considered one of the masters of
comic fantasy. His humour is apparently too British,
though, since he hasn't had an American publisher for
quite some time. The Britishonly... (more) 


The Long Chalkboard (2006) 
 Jenny Allen / Jules Feiffer (Illustrator) 

Allen's book is a collection of three shortshort stories spread
out over book length with illustrations on every page, in the usual
style of children's literature, complete with charmingly simple... (more) 


Luck be a Lady (2009) 
 Dean Wesley Smith 

A seriously bizarre story about how
Laverne, the Goddess of Luck, has gone missing, and superheroes Poker
Boy, Front Desk Lady, and Screamer go looking for her, only to discover
that the Bookkeeper... (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) 


Magic Squares (1977) 
 Paul Calter 

A very unconventionally written mystery story full of well placed and wellintegrated problems in mathematics, which makes this a great book to be included in a course on ‘mathematics in literature'.... (more) 


Mangum, P.I. (2004) 
 Colin Adams 

A parody of the hardboiled private detective genre in which ``P.I.'' stands for ``Principal Investigator'', a phrase familiar to anyone who has applied for a research grant. In this hilarious story,... (more) 


Many Moons (1943) 
 James Thurber 

In this famous children's tale about a princess who wants the moon, "the
mathematician" is one of three wisemen who shows himself not to be so
wise. (The jester, on the other hand,...)
It was... (more) 


The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (2021) 
 Lev Grossman 

This short film is based on a short story by Lev Grossman is a repeatthesameday romcom that uses 2D projections of a tesseract as a plot point! I liked it even if it’s a little handwavy, and math... (more) 


The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017) 
 Amy ShermanPalladino / Daniel Palladino 

The main plot of this show  which concerns the transformation of Midge Maisel from a Jewish housewife in the 1950s into a successful and edgy standup comic  has nothing to do with mathematics. So,... (more) 


Math Curse (1995) 
 Jon Scieszka / Lane Smith (illustrator) 

In this children's picture book, the main character finds that "anything can be a math problem" when her elementary school teacher puts a math curse on her. For example:
Unfortunately for me, LUNCH... (more) 


Math Patrol (1977) 
 TV Ontario 

"Math Patrol was a 15minute long educational TV series produced in the late 1970s by TV Ontario about the adventures of a secret agent named "Sydney" who dressed up as a kangaroo with a blue trenchcoat.... (more) 


Math Takes a Holiday (2001) 
 Paul Di Filippo 

Saint Hubert and Saint Barbara, the two patron saints of mathematics,
pay a visit to a devout Catholic mathematics professor who has been
praying for a mathematical miracle to silence his mockers.... (more) 


Mathematical R & D (1979) 
 Paul J. Nahin 

This short short story, published in the professional journal
IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems describes a
talk by the (fictional) famous mathematician Professor Osgood. Greatly
limited... (more) 


Mathematically Bent (2000) 
 Colin Adams 

Geometer and knottheorist Colin Adams (Williams College, MA) has been writing this short, mathematicallywise and bitingly funny column in the quarterly issues of The Mathematical Intelligencer since... (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) 



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) 


Mathematicians in Love (2006) 
 Rudy Rucker 

Together, two math grad students who are both in love with the same girl prove a theorem which characterizes all dynamical systems (from the stock market to the motion of particles) in terms of objects... (more) 


The Mathematicians of Grizzly Drive (1988) 
 Josef Skvorecky 

A detective story, in the "hard boiled" genre, featuring Eve Adam, a sexy nightclub performer who solves crimes in her free time. In this story, she visits a house where mathematicians gather to entertain... (more) 



The Mathematics of Being Human (2015) 
 Michelle Osherow / Manil Suri 

A math professor and a literature professor attempt to collaborate on an interdisciplinary course in this semiautobiographical one act play.
To begin with, I should admit that nearly everything I know... (more) 


The Mathematics of Magic (1940) 
 L. Sprague de Camp / Fletcher Pratt 

The "Enchanter Stories" by de Camp and Pratt are a very popular series of SF/fantasy stories whose protagonist, Harold Shea, is able to travel to other universes using symbolic logic. "The Mathematics... (more) 


Mathematics of the Heart (2011) 
 Kefi Chadwick (playwright) / Donnacadh O'Briain (director) 

An expert on the mathematics of chaos theory deals with chaos in his own life in the form of a girlfriend seeking commitment, a brother crashing in his apartment, and a new graduate student.
I have not seen this play, but have only run across notices announcing its production at the Brighton Fringe festival in 2011. Additional information about the play would be most appreciated. (more) 


The Mathenauts (1964) 
 Norman Kagan 

A hilarious story that plays with the mindblowing idea that it may not be that mathematics describes reality, but instead that reality is mathematics.
In the future presented by this story, only those... (more) 


Mathmakers (1978) 
 TV Ontario 

Canadian television show (circa 1978) about making a television show.
Humorous story lines illustrate mathematical concepts.
"The program was developed and produced by TVOntario in 1978. Each
episode... (more) 


MathNet (1987) 
 Childrens Television Workshop 

A children's TV show in which mysteries are solved using
mathematics. The suspects and victims always ask the investigators
"Are you the police?" To which they reply "No, we're
mathematicians!"... (more) 


Matrices (2016) 
 Steven Nightingale 

One of 64 fantastical short stories in the collection "The Hot Climate of Promises and Grace", this one concerns a mathematician who fills matrices with real objects instead of numbers. The results are... (more) 


Men at Arms (1993) 
 Terry Pratchett 

The main plot is not mathrelated: the Night Watch has to solve a series of mysterious murders, all while dealing with the internal tensions due to the Patricianmandated hiring of "ethnic minorities"... (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) 


Midtown Pythagoras (2007) 
 Michael Brodsky 

Michael Brodsky is a deconstructionist's dream writer, which for most people,
simply means utterly unreadable. His many novels, stories, and plays inhabit a
world where meaning is just past the reader's... (more) 


The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) 
 Barbra Streisand (director) / Richard LaGravenese (Writer) 

Love story with Jeff Bridges and Barbra Streisand as math and English
professors (respectively) at Columbia University in which they try (unsuccessfully) to achieve a marriage of deep companionship but... (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 Monkey in Hilbert's Hotel (2019) 
 K. B. Basant 

This is yet another tale about a hotel to illustrate the mindblowing properties of infinite cardinals. Like the others, which you can find listed below among the "similar works", this is only barely... (more) 


Monster (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

A story about group theory, plagiarism, the untapped potential of a collaboration between mathematics and marketing, the bleak financial future of academia, and the Monster.
This story talks about... (more) 


Monster's Proof (2009) 
 Richard Lewis 

With parents and a younger brother who are all "mathematical geniuses", Livey Ell (who is in danger of getting kicked out of cheerleading unless she improves her algebra grades) is a bit too normal. Things... (more) 


Mother's Milk (2005) 
 Andrew Thomas Breslin 

Lawyer Cindy Kichlklug takes on the dairy industry (with the aid of a quirky mathematician) in this witty SF satire.
The "conspiracy theory" in the book is well put together. It tightly combines so... (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) 


Mulligan Stew (1979) 
 Gilbert Sorrentino 

An avant garde novel, or a parody of one, presented in the form of a collection of letters, notes, papers and other writings. Includes Cardano's formula, plus a full length parody of a mathematics research... (more) 


MultiColored Dome (1987) 
 Martin Gardner 

A lighthearted, short story about a shy but precocious Math student working on symbolic logic (“he had read “Principia Mathematica” when he was in high school, and understood it,... (more) 


The Murdered Mathematician (1949) 
 Harry Stephen Keeler 

This book is probably the least believable thing I've ever read, but lots of fun!
Quiribus Brown is a 7 1/2 foot tall man who was raised by his father on a farm in Indiana. His father was a math professor... (more) 


Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley (2016) 
 Danyl McLauchlan 

A semiserious Lovecraftian novel set in New Zealand's Te Aro suburb featuring some mystical mathematicians (and questions of Platonism) in a central role.
This sequel to the Danyl McLauchlan's "Unspeakable... (more) 


Naked Came the Postmodernist (2013) 
 Sarah Lawrence College Writing Class WRIT3303R / Melvin Jules Bukiet 

Written as a group project by the students in a creative writing class at Sarah Lawrence College, this wacky academic farce takes the form of a whodunit, trying to identify the murderer of a math professor. (more) 


Nanny and the Professor (TV Series) (1970) 
 AJ Carothers (creator) / Thomas L. Miller (creator) 

A handsome math professor gets the help of a magical British nanny in raising his adorable kids in this early '70's sitcom.
I actually used to watch this show when I was a little kid, but had completely... (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) 


Naturally (1954) 
 Fredric Brown 

Fredric Brown, a prolific and acclaimed writer of mystery
and science fiction stories and novels, was an extraordinary
master of the shortshort. "Naturally" is a onepager about
Henry... (more) 


The Needle in a Haystack (2002) 
 Tom DeMarco 

A pretty funny, silly story about a tailor with a mathematical bent who loses a needle in a haystack. Quite despondent about his chances of finding it, he decides to be mathematically rigorous in his... (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) 


New Tales of the
The AbsentMinded Master (1971) 
 Vladimir Levshin 

This is the third in the Master of the AbsentMinded Sciences trilogy.
The third book is about the two investigating the stealing of a very
valuable stamp. It ends with the promise of further adventures, but
the author never wrote them.
Levshin's beloved children's books have never been translated into English, but can be read in Russian at lib.rus.ec. (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) 


NoSided Professor (1946) 
 Martin Gardner 

We all know that among the surprising things you learn when you first
make a Mobius strip is
the fact that out of a two sided piece of paper you can make an object
with only one side. Why should this... (more) 


Normed Trek (2014) 
 Harun Šiljak 

This short story is a parody that combines elements of Star Trek with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland using concepts and terminology from mathematics (especially analysis).
Limit, the final frontier.... (more) 


Numbercruncher (2013) 
 Si Spurrier (writer) / PJ Holden (artist) 

A recently deceased mathematician "cracks the recirculation algorithm" and thus is able to control his own reincarnation in the hope of being able to spend more time with the woman he loves. It ends up... (more) 


Numberland (1987) 
 George Weinberg 

The coauthor (with John Schumaker) of STATISTICS: AN
INTUITIVE APPROACH, and practicing psychotherapist, tells
a charming little fable about Numberland.
Peace, harmony,... (more) 


Numbers Don't Lie (2005) 
 Terry Bisson 

This novel is actually just a compilation of three Wilson Wu short stories ("The Hole in the Hole", "The Edge of the Universe" and "Get Me to the Church on Time") which were previously published in Asimov's... (more) 


Numbers in the Dark (La notte dei numeri) (1990) 
 Italo Calvino 

A boy looking around the huge office building where his mother works meets an old accountant who now works with computers but reveals to him an undiscovered arithmetic error made back in one of the company's... (more) 


Nymphomation (2000) 
 Jeff Noon 

A math professor's theory of ``nymphomation'' (described in the book as a way for numbers to mate) is used to develop a lottery game called "Domino Bones" that entirely takes over the city of Manchester,... (more) 


Odd Squad (2014) 
 Tim McKeon/ Adam Peltzman 

A governmental organization run by children investigates "odd" phenomena and solves problems with some math and a lot of computer graphics in this liveaction TV show from TVOKids and PBS Kids.
I'm... (more) 


Odds Against Tomorrow (2013) 
 Nathaniel Rich 

Mitchell Zukor is a statistician and probabilist whose area of expertise is the prediction of disasters. To many people, including the reporter/narrator, this makes him a humorous and pathetic number... (more) 


Odile (1937) 
 Raymond Queneau 

A humorous semiautobiographical novel by this famous, French, surrealistic author.
Queneau seems to have had some training as a mathematician and was friends
with several leading French mathematicians.... (more) 


Off Day! (1953) 
 Al Feldstein (writer)/ Jack Kamen (artist) 

Believe it or not, this Weird Science story is essentially a lecture on the law of large numbers.
A very worried college professor tells his class he's just witnessed the failure of one of the most... (more) 


On Another Plane (2020) 
 Colin Adams 

A woman with flowing white hair and flowing white robes sits next to a mathematician on a plane and very casually helps him to prove the Riemann Hypothesis.
‘‘I'm not much for knowing what's... (more) 



The Pacifist (1966) 
 Arthur C. Clarke 

Clarke, one of the alltime biggest names in serious science
fiction, took time to write a series of humorous science
fiction tall tales. The stories are narrated by one Harry
... (more) 


The Papers of A.J. Wentworth, B.A. (1949) 
 Humphry Francis Ellis 

This is a humorous book about A J Wentworth, school master at a British school, who teaches Algebra to 1113 year old children. The entire novel has a touch of Wodehouse to it as it follows the bumbling... (more) 


Paul Bunyan versus the Conveyor Belt (1949) 
 William Hazlett Upson 

A clever "twist" on the usual Mobius band story.
Answers the age old question: How can you win lots of money betting
against poor saps who don't understand topology?
I use this story with children... (more) 


The Phantom Tollbooth (1961) 
 Norton Juster / Jules Feiffer (Illustrator) 

This "Alice in Wonderland"esque children's book follows our hero,
Milo, to the fantasy world through his toy tollbooth. One of the
lands he visits is very "mathematical". We meet the dodecahedron,... (more) 


PopCo (2004) 
 Scarlett Thomas 

Alice was raised by her grandparents, a mathematician and a cryptographer, and now uses what she learned from them to make mathematical puzzles for children. Her employer, the giant toy company "PopCo",... (more) 


PostBombum [aka PostBoomboom] (1967) 
 Alberto Vanasco 

Argentinian author and math professor Alberto Vanasco wrote this short story about postapocalyptic survivors trying to record keys to civilization, and failing miserably. (Thanks to Vijay Fafat for bringing... (more) 


The Princess Hoppy or the Tale of Labrador (1993) 
 Jacques Roubaud 

French mathematician Jacques Roubaud, member of the Oulipo group, wrote this bizarre, postmodern, fairy tale which is decidedly for adults rather than for children. According to the cover,
The tale... (more) 


Probability Pipeline (1988) 
 Rudy Rucker / Marc Laidlaw 

A typical Rudy Rucker short story full of technojargon and hippie language.
Delbert and Zep are two brothers looking for good surfing opportunities. One day, Delbert hypnotizes Zep and plants an... (more) 


Probability Storm (1977) 
 Julian Reid 

Julian Reid takes the concept of statistical anomalies to a fantastic extreme in a slapstick fantasy comedy written in a very witty and conversational style, replete with puns and smartcracks. A tavern... (more) 


Problems for SelfStudy (2002) 
 Charles Yu 

The life of a mathematical physicist  from earning his PhD, through marriage, fatherhood and into a midlife crisis  presented in the form of homework exercises from a math book.
We first meet... (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) 


Proof Geometric Construction Can Solve All Love Affairs (2017) 
 Takahashi Manbou (lyricist) / Ane Manbou (illustrator) 

This is not a short story or novel or movie, it is a music video by Japanese musician "Manbop" (featuring mangastyle illustrations by his sister). As the title implies, it is a romance in which a boy... (more) 


A Proof of God (2004) 
 Colin Adams 

A mathematician is approached by a seemingly crazy old man who claims to have a proof of the existence of God, but later it seems that he might not be so crazy after all in this hilarious spoof from Adams'... (more) 


The Push of a Finger (1942) 
 Alfred Bester 

Story set in 2909. A Prognostication Machine which can look into the future beyond 50 years (but no earlier) predicts the destruction of the entire universe in about 1000 years. Evidently, a new movement... (more) 


Pyramids (2001) 
 Terry Pratchett 

Thanks to Aaron Gullison for pointing out that in this Discworld novel, "the camels are all mathematicians, and think in math." For instance,
The greatest mathematician alive on the Disc, and in fact... (more) 


Pythagoras's Darkest Hour (2007) 
 Colin Adams 

A humorous short story from the author of Mathematically Bent which tells the true story of the discovery of the Pythagorean Theorem. Well, actually, perhaps it isn't exactly true...but it is so good,... (more) 


Quanto scommettiamo ("How much do you want to bet?") (1965) 
 Italo Calvino 

The story is about two beings, living since the beginning of the universe (one of them, the protagonist of the book, is "old Qfwfq"  it's not a misprint , a mysterious being that claims to have witnessed... (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) 


Quicksilver: The Baroque Cycle Volume 1 (2003) 
 Neal Stephenson 

This long novel from the author of Cryptonomicon does for 17th Century mathematics what that earlier novel did for the 20th century. Namely, it deifies some great historical mathematicians (this time... (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) 


Red Zen (2007) 
 Jason Earls 

A man travels to another planet in an attemp to resolve a bizarre memory problem in this absurdist science fiction novel. As in his other works, Earls includes tidbits of computational number theory.... (more) 


Refund (1938) 
 Fritz Karinthy (original) / Percival Wilde (English Adaptation) 

A former student demands that his tuition be refunded because he feels his education was worthless, but loses his bid when he is tricked by the mathematics master.
This entry refers to the 1938 adaptation... (more) 


Resistance is Futile (2015) 
 Jenny T. Colgan 

This novel begins as a familiar farce in which mathematicians are gathered by the government to decipher a message from space. However, in this case, the story soon turns into a romance between a human... (more) 



Rithmatic (2015) 
 B.J. Novak 

A school principal secretly proposes to his students that they all just agree not to bother with math in school:
“Now do I wish you all knew math? Were great at math? Were fing mathematicians?... (more) 


Robbins v. New York (2008) 
 Colin Adams 

The author of the Mathematical Intelligencer's "Mathematically Bent" column has a talent for making me laugh, and this piece which has the US Supreme Court justices debating higher math and modern physics... (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) 


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) 


Rumpled Stiltskin (2004) 
 Colin Adams 

Do you remember the old Fractured Fairy Tales segment on Rocky and Bullwinkle in which classic stories were updated with a twist? This is just like those. The old Grimm's Brother tale is retold, but... (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) 


Schaurige Mathematik (2007) 
 Alexander Mehlmann 

Professor Moriarty, the evil mathematician best known as the arch enemy of Sherlock Holmes, is both the hero and the narrator of this short story. He joins forces with Dracula and uses math to fight Jack... (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) 


Shaffery Among the Immortals (1972) 
 Frederik Pohl 

A funny yarn about one Jeremy Shaffery, an astronomer who idolizes Einstein and his methods and who wants to achieve immortal fame by doing something just as famous. The problem is that he is not built... (more) 


She Wrote the Book (1946) 
 Oscar Brodney (writer) / Warren Wilson (writer) / Charles Lamont (director) 

A modest and shy female math professor develops amnesia and completely changes her behavior when she comes to believe she is the author of steamy romance models. According to Burkard Polster and Marty... (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) 


Simpsons (Episode: Homer^{3}) (1995) 
 John Swarzwelder / Steve Tomkins / David S. Cohen 

In this segment from an episode of "The Simpsons" cartoon, Homer finds a
portal to the third dimension while trying to hide from his
sistersinlaw. This is a joke on the fact that they are usually... (more) 


The Simpsons: Girls Just Want to Have Sums (2006) 
 Matt Selman 

In this episode from the 17th season of the hit cartoon The Simpsons, the principal of Bart and Lisa's school makes a sexist comment (clearly a reference to the controversial comments from Harvard President... (more) 


The Sinister Researches of C.P. Ransom (1951) 
 Homer C. Nearing Jr. 

"[D]escribed on the cover as a science fiction novel, which is two
mistakes in three words...it is [mathematical fiction], and it is a
collection of short stories that originally appeared in The Magazine
of... (more) 


Sir Cumference and the... (1997) 
 Cindy Neuschwander 

These are pun filled picture books. To be honest, they do not appeal to me at all; I would give them low ratings for both literary quality and mathematical content. However, as you can see from the comments... (more) 


A Slight Miscalculation (1971) 
 Ben Bova 

This is a story of a mathematician who found a way to predict
earthquakes. He finds out that there will be a major earthquake
in California (where he lives). After checking this prediction
using CalTech's... (more) 


Slightly Perfect / Are you with it? (1941) 
 George MalcolmSmith (Novel) / Sam Perrin (Script) / George Balzer (Script) 

Eggheaded actuary Milton Northey Haskins quits his job upon learning that his company has lost money due to his misplaced decimal point and he joins a carnival in the 1941 novel Slightly Perfect. This... (more) 


The Smithsonian Institution (1998) 
 Gore Vidal 

In the year 1939, a 13 year old orphan known only as "T." is recruited into a secret project to build a nuclear weapon
after he is recognized by his algebra teacher as a math genius. From that description,... (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) 


Spaceland (2002) 
 Rudy Rucker 

Yet another Flatland "sequel" in which silicon valley genius Joe Cube (an obvious reference to characters A. Square and A. Cube in Abbott's original) gets caught up in a war between fourdimensional beings... (more) 


StandIn (1937) 
 Tay Garnett


Leslie Howard plays a typical Hollywood mathematical genius: emotionless, conceited, and convinced that everything can be understood through mathematics. (Well, one out of three isn't bad!) It takes a trip to Tinsel Town and a beautiful actress to make him see the errors of his ways.
(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) 


The Strange Case of Mr. Jean D. (1983) 
 Joao Filipe Queiro 

Published in the Mathematical Intelligencer magazine (Math.Intell. 5, 3 7890 (1983)) this is the story of a mathematician who has a nightmare: Pi is rational! (Thanks to Nuno Crato for the suggestion.) (more) 


Stranger than Fiction (2006) 
 Marc Forster (Director) / Zach Helm (Screenplay) 

An employee of the IRS who is obsessed with counting and performing mental computations begins to hear the voice of a woman narrating his life. He soon learns that he is a character in a novel and that... (more) 


Summer Wars (2009) 
 Mamoru Hosoda (Director) 

Kenji is a parttime computer programmer from a poor family who has never had a girlfriend. Aside from the fact that he was almost selected to represent Japan in the Mathematics Olympiad he considers... (more) 


The Tachypomp (1873) 
 Edward Page Mitchell 

I can't believe this story is as old as it is! First published in
Scribner's Magazine in 1873, it is only dated by its sexism and its
contradition of Einstein. In order to win the hand of the beautiful
Abscissa... (more) 


The Tale of the Big Computer (aka The End of Man?) (1966) 
 Hannes Alfven (writing as Olof Johannesson) 

"Alfven, the Swedish physicist and astrophysicist who was
awarded the Nobel prize for his development of plasma physics
and magnetohydrodynamics (but is perhaps better remembered
... (more) 


A Tangled Tale (1886) 
 Lewis Carroll 

A collection of ten mathematical puzzles in story form by the famous author/mathematician Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll).
"The reason I answered 3 for "Mathematical Content" is that all the math... (more) 


The Men who Murdered Mohammed (1958) 
 Alfred Bester 

A timetravel story in which Henry Hassel travels back in time to change the past (specifically, to kill his wife who has cheated on him), but finds that none of the usual timetravel tropes apply. In... (more) 


The Thesis of the AbsentMinded Master (1971) 
 Vladimir Levshin 

[This is the first book in the] trilogy called "The
Master of the AbsentMinded Sciences". The heroes of the other books
(and the author) establish a club, where they analyze the notes (and,
later,letters)... (more) 


Thinking of Leaving Your Husband? (2010) 
 Charlotte Cory 

[This] is the book of a series of [BBC] radio comedies from last year, in which the heroine has various unfortunate experiences with internet dating before meeting the perfect partner, who is a mathematician.... (more) 


The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage (2015) 
 Sydney Padua 

This graphic novel starts out as a basically realistic fictionalized biography of the 19th century mathematicians Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, even if it is a biography with a snarky sense of humor.... (more) 


Thursday Next: First Among Sequels (2007) 
 Jasper Fforde 

As Vijay Fafat points out, the eponymous heroine of this series of humorous, fantasy mysteries has a daughter who is a math prodigy. Among other things, in this novel she finds a counterexample to Fermat's... (more) 


To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998) 
 Connie Willis 

Travelling through time, as we all know, is a dangerous business. One small change in the past and you could mess up the future! In this science fiction novel, Willis proposes a (vaguely mathematical)... (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) 


Tracking the Random Variable (1991) 
 Marcos Donnelly 

Ronald Barr is a statistician with a knack for identifying hidden variables. For example, it was he who recognized that by offering chicken soup and hot chocolate in the automatic coffee machine, his... (more) 


Train Brains / The Runaway Train (Donald Duck) (1956) 
 Carl Barks 

Donald Duck's nephews  Huey, Dewey and Louie  are trying to earn a merit badge in engineering for the Junior Woodchucks by working out a complicated problem involving toy trains.
"We'll never be... (more) 


The Travel Notes of the AbsentMinded Master (1971) 
 Vladimir Levshin 

This is the second in the Master of the AbsentMinded Sciences trilogy.
The second book is the Master sending letters about his and Little
One's adventures to the Club for continuing analysis.
Levshin's beloved children's books have never been translated into English, but can be read in Russian at lib.rus.ec. (more) 


Twisters (1988) 
 Paul J. Nahin 

A medical doctor stumbles onto a dangerous trap in this short story which
was published in Analog (Vol CVIII No 6, May 1988). The twisted
donuts sold by the new shop he passes on the way to work turn out to be
Klein bottles (a topological oddity like the Mobius strip). (more) 


Uncle Georg's Attic (2002) 
 Ben Schumacher 

This short story appeared in the September 2002 issue of "Math Horizons",
published by the Mathematical Association of America. In it, some kids
look through an attic containing lots of stuff belonging... (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) 


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) 


The Unwilling Professor (1954) 
 Arthur Porges 

Two college students who are failing their math class kidnap an alien they encounter and force it to do homework for everyone in their fraternity.
There are some cute mathematical passages. For example,... (more) 


A Very Good Year (1984) 
 Jack C. Haldeman (II) 

A very short fantasylike story about Statistics. A senior statistician for Dept of Acccident Prevention describes how the law of averages appears to have failed when applied to mortality rates. In particular,... (more) 


A Very Peculiar Practice (1986) 
 Andrew Davies 

In this television series about a medical doctor at a British university, a recurring character during the first season was a mathematician who was the doctor's roommate, Chen. Their "flat" was therefore... (more) 


Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen (2007) 
 Kathryn Walat (playwright) 

Victoria Martin is a popular girl at Longwood High  dating one of the stars of the school basketball team and friends with the "Jens" on the cheerleading squad. So, most of the guys on the math team... (more) 


The Visiting Professor (1994) 
 Robert Littell 

Lemuel Falk, a ``randomnist'' from the Steklov Institute in Russia
gets a visiting position at a chaos research institute in Upstate New
York in this academic farce. He meets a drunkard who studies... (more) 



The Weight of Numbers (2006) 
 Simon Ings 

This is an ambitious novel which attempts to be as overwhelming as Pynchon, to deconstruct what it means to be human like Vonnegut and to tie together bits of history like Forrest Gump. For a few readers,... (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) 


Without a Trace (Episode: Claus and Effect) (2007) 
 David Amann (writer) / Alicia Kirk (writer) / Bobby Roth (Director) 

In this Christmas special episode of the TV crime drama, a department store Santa turns out to be a mathematical prodigy who has quit his job as a mathematician/programmer due to ethical concerns that his work will cause others to lose their jobs. He becomes involved in a scheme to make money by applying mathematics to gambling.
(more) 


Year of the Rat (2009) 
 Kristine Kathryn Rusch 

A story of two brothers who
use mathematics, one to prove, one to disprove God, and fortunately have
their big sister to resolve things.
One of two mathematical stories in Denise Little's anthology Intelligent Design. (See also Luck be a Lady).
(more) 


The Zero Theorem (2013) 
 Pat Rushin (screenplay) / Terry Gilliam (director) 

Qohen Leth corrects people who call him a number cruncher: he's an entity cruncher. Even though he is very good at his job, processing data in the office at his company's famous cubebased computer terminals,... (more) 


Zombies and Calculus (2014) 
 Colin Adams 

The story opens with a math professor teaching his class on a seemingly ordinary day when a student who has arrived late turns out to be the first of a wave of flesh eating zombies who are running amok... (more) 
