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Ask Slashdot: Mathematical Fiction?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the it-was-an-arbitrarily-lit-and-stormy-night dept.

Math 278

An anonymous reader writes "Neal Stephenson's 1999 Cryptonomicon was a great yarn. It was also a thoroughly enjoyable (and too short) romp through some mathematics. Where can I find more of that? I should say that I don't want SF — at least none of the classic SF I read voraciously in the 70s; it's just not the same thing, and far too often just a puppet-theatre for an author's philosophical rant. Has any author managed to hit the same vein as Stephenson did? (Good non-fiction math-reads are also gratefully accepted. What have you got?)"

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George Orwell (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757267)

After all, 2+2=5

Too short? (1)

noahwh (1545231) | about 2 years ago | (#41757313)

As I recall Cryptonomicon is well over 1000 pages long.

Re:Too short? (2)

The Moof (859402) | about 2 years ago | (#41757335)

When talking length, we're not always talking about page count.

Re:Too short? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757611)

I think you should interpret that as "in my opinion, although the book was over a thousand pages, the parts covering mathematics were too light and too few".

Yes, I am captain Obvious, stating the obvious since 1986.

Re:Too short? (1, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | about 2 years ago | (#41757885)

But every one of those pages is interesting and exciting, unlike his other books, which tend to lose pace and focus after a brilliant start.

Tons of math fiction (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757321)

Fadiman compilations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757323)

Have you seen "Fantasia Mathematica" and "The Mathematical Magpie", both edited by Clifton Fadiman? Lots of fun.

Romney's Budget (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757329)

It's great mathematical fiction.

Re:Romney's Budget (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757441)

As if things are going to be any better under Obama.
I hope you partisan bitches are held accountable if this nation collapses. I really really would love to see your bullshit lies try to stop the retribution that would be sure to come.

Re:Romney's Budget (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758059)

you partisan bitches

Wow! Projection.

A favorite of mine (-1, Offtopic)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 2 years ago | (#41757337)

A favorite of mine []

Re:A favorite of mine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757413)


Greg Egan (5, Informative)

Edward Coffin (256305) | about 2 years ago | (#41757339)

Try something by Greg Egan [] . His short story Glory [] (pdf) is online.

Re:Greg Egan (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 2 years ago | (#41757865)

Yeah, I was thinking Greg Egan as well; Schild's Ladder in particular, along with Permutation City pop to mind.

And much of the work under the moniker of "Hard SF" might appeal to the submitter, since it tends to be backed by real math, physics, and chemistry and often delves into the details.

Re:Greg Egan (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758209)

Egan's latest, "Clockwork Rocket", is probably his most mathy work to date. It takes place in a different universe (dubbed "Orthogonal") with its own distinct physics: the speed of light is different for different colors; gravity is an inverse-linear force as opposed to inverse-square; and don't even ask what's going on at the subatomic level (are there even atoms in this universe? It's not quite clear this early in the trilogy...)

Anyway, the book's got diagrams and everything, so if math and physics are your thing, you'll have lots of fun with this one.

Re:Greg Egan (1)

Owyn (934) | about 2 years ago | (#41758287)

Came here to second that. Greg Egan's Diaspora is really mathy and quite good. []

Re:Greg Egan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758369)

Yep, third'ed. Greg Egan is one of the best authors of scientifically possible fiction.

Try Neal Stephenson (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757341)

> Has any author managed to hit the same vein as Stephenson did?

Yes, he's called Neal Stephenson: Baroque Cycle is certainly not too short, and Anathem is beautifully mathematical.

flatland (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757389)

flatland, a romance of many dimensions;

Hofstadter (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757407)

I found Douglas Hofstadter's "Gödel, Escher, Bach" to be at least as engaging as any Stephenson-esque fiction I've ever read.

Re:Hofstadter (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757501)

Hostadter also wrote "Metamagical Themas" - both the book and the articles in Scientific American for some time. Those two books were some of the best reads I've ever enjoyed.

Re:Hofstadter (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757515)

Spoiler: they all die in the end.

Re:Hofstadter (2)

ReverendLoki (663861) | about 2 years ago | (#41757549)

I was thinking the same. Keep in mind, it's not fiction (there are fictional elements in it, more like fables to illustrate the points made), and it's more like a general essay/introduction to logic, paradox, intelligence and what it means, recursion, and similar topics. You may find yourself covering topics you are already familiar with, depending on your experience, but it's still a good read.

You can read a better summation on Wikipedia []

Re:Hofstadter (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757741)

And in Mathematical Themas he actually has a speculative math story, though it's very short. The premise is a world where pi is exactly three, but I won't spoil the ending.

Flatland: A Romance Of Many Dimensions (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757425)

Well over a hundred years old and well ahead of it's time.

Re:Flatland: A Romance Of Many Dimensions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757587)

And so is your baroque use of the apostrophe.

Re:Flatland: A Romance Of Many Dimensions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758121)

I love Flatland too, and Sphereland is a great follow-up. It's written by a different author, but it uses the same style to tackle a more complex subject.

Surreal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757445)

You may enjoy "Surreal Numbers: How Two Ex-Students Turned on to Pure Mathematics and Found Total Happiness. " Donald Knuth, 1974. Dixit wikipedia: "This book is a mathematical novelette, and is notable as one of the rare cases where a new mathematical idea was first presented in a work of fiction." (

The Story of O (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 2 years ago | (#41757449)

The Story of O by Pauline Reage is the fascinating account of the discovery of the number in ancient Mesopotamia.

Re:The Story of O (0)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | about 2 years ago | (#41758027)

Truely you are a well read person quite deserving of mod points I sadly cannont give.

Not fiction but... (3, Informative)

Empiric (675968) | about 2 years ago | (#41757451)

...Tracy Kidder's Pulitzer winner -reads- like good fiction. []

In terms of "dramatizing math", I'd have to give it the nod even over Cryptonomicon.

"A Subway Named Mobius" (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#41757453)

"A Subway Named Mobius" [] , from 1950.

on the non-fiction side (5, Informative)

new death barbie (240326) | about 2 years ago | (#41757481)

Godel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas Hofsteder
The Mind's I, co-edited by Douglas Hofsteder and Daniel Dennett
One, Two, Three... Infinity by George Gamow
Flatland, by Edwin Abbott Abbott (okay, this one is fiction)
anything by Martin Gardner

Flatland: A Romance Of Many Dimensions (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757485)

Over a hundred years old and well ahead of it's time.

Oo oo! I've got one! (1, Funny)

RedBear (207369) | about 2 years ago | (#41757509)

How about the Romney/Ryan economic recovery "plan". It's gotta qualify as mathematical fiction.

but they don't really give any numbers (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 2 years ago | (#41757835)

so it's quantum mathmetical fiction.

No, it's Superstring Theory fiction . . . (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41758159)

. . . economic recovery will occur, but only in other dimensions that most folks won't be able to sense and experience.

And since Superstring is the Unified Theory, it applies to both political parties.

Re:Oo oo! I've got one! (4, Funny)

Oh Gawwd Peak Oil (1000227) | about 2 years ago | (#41758147)

I took a number out of the Romney/Ryan economic recovery plan, and multiplied it by itself to see what would happen. I got a negative number. Why would that be?

I took another number and multiplied it by itself, and got another negative number. In fact, every number I took from that plan and multiplied by itself, I got a negative number!

How could that be?

Re:Oo oo! I've got one! (1, Troll)

ScentCone (795499) | about 2 years ago | (#41758271)

No, no. There's a better one. The Obama campaign just came out with an actual glossy printed brochure that they say finally provides his plan to create jobs. Other than the fact that it doesn't contain any (let along any new) actual information and that it's nothing more than aspirational plans to borrow more money from elsewhere and spend it like the last round of stimulus money, but mostly on transient government jobs that don't actually create anything ... other than that, I'm told that the graphics and the quality of the paper are very nice. They indicate that they're going to print several hundred thousand and slip them under the door of undecided voters. Now there's some quality fiction for you.

I would like to see the math basis for borrowing and taxing the economy into prosperity, though. Especially the part on taxes. The actual math says that if you taxed rich people at 100% of their earnings, it wouldn't even close the government's spending deficit past the month of May in a given year. So, some math fiction that gets creatively around that unpleasant detail would be good reading indeed.

Ready Player One (1)

Jim Hall (2985) | about 2 years ago | (#41757527)

I know you asked for math-reads, but you also asked for books like Stephenson. I just finished reading Ready Player One [] which I found to be a lot like Gibson and Stephenson, but better. (For example, RPO actually has an ending.) It has a good cyberpunk feel, and a realistic world. The way he described the dystopian near-future society reminded me of Stephenson's Diamond Age or Snow Crash, or Gibson's Virtual Light trilogy.

Re:Ready Player One (1)

Bill Hayden (649193) | about 2 years ago | (#41758045)

I just finished reading Ready Player One [] which I found to be a lot like Gibson and Stephenson, but better. (For example, RPO actually has an ending.)

Regarding Stephenson's inability to write an ending, amen! He's one of my favorite writers, but he can't tie up a book to save his life. Diamond Age was the worst -- great book, but virtually nothing is resolved at the end. I'd never heard of Ready Player One, but it sounds great and I've already got it on order. Thanks!

Oh, you want mathematical _fiction_ (4, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41757531)

I thought you wanted fictional mathematics and was going to point you to arXiv.

Three non-fiction suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757541)

"Everything and more", by David Foster Wallace.
"Mechanizing Proof", by Donald Mackenzie.
"Dreaming in Code", by Scott Rosenberg.

Neverness by David Zindell (2)

shadowdelta (2759725) | about 2 years ago | (#41757543)

Captured my attention when I was in high school and I re-read it every few years. It was the first SF that I had ever read that made mathematics a central part of its story.

Re:Neverness by David Zindell (1)

mprinkey (1434) | about 2 years ago | (#41757735)

This. The whole series is very well done and deeply engaging. But it is dense. It might be best described as fictional mathematical physics, but it is not your typical SF...even hard SF.

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757569)

The story of Paul Erdos - It's Non-Fiction, but is one of my favorite mathematics oriented books.

Amazon link:

Recommended Non-fiction maths books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757571)

I can't think of many mathematical fiction books apart from Flatland, which I assume you heard of, and is rather a thin tome anyway. I'd mostly suggest mathematical biographies as the way to go:

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers - The biography of Paul Erdös
The Music of the Primes - by Marcus du Sautoy
Genius - the biography of Richard Feynman - author James Gleick(?)
Chaos - a book on chaos theory and fractals, also by James Gleick
The Code Book - Simon Singh
Fermat's Last Theorem - Simon Singh
Gödel, Escher, Bach - Douglas Hofstadter
A Beautiful Mind - The biography of John Nash
A New Kind of Science - Stephen Wolfram (bit of a doorstep, this one!)

Of these, the Music of the Primes is probably the one I most recommend because it details the historical approach towards the Riemann hypothesis. Over the centuries, many mathematicians have taken a crack at this problem - and made the occasional advance here and there - so it's a really good set of name checks for other mathematical biographies to track down. Gives you an overview of the entire field of mathematical endeavours over the centuries.

Finally, some other names to look out for - Alan Turing, Euler, Gauss and possibly some of the Greeks. Here's a passable list of 'greatest mathematicians' and I don't see much in that list to quibble over.

Doxiadis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757577)

Not sure if it's what you are looking for but I read both the book and the comic and I enjoyd them and happily recommend it

Knuth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757581)

Surreal Numbers: How Two Ex-Students Turned on to Pure Mathematics and Found Total Happiness

Robert J. Sawyer (1)

sasquatch21 (184936) | about 2 years ago | (#41757589)

I would recomend Robert J. Sawyer's Calculating God or Factoring Humanity.

Re:Robert J. Sawyer (1)

sackbut (1922510) | about 2 years ago | (#41758357)

I second those by R.J.Sawyer. Not as 'heavy' as Greg Egan's work but good reads.

Anathem (1)

rknop (240417) | about 2 years ago | (#41757631)

Also read "Anathem" by Stephenson. Mathematics plays a prominent role, although it's not as explicitly explored as it is in "Cryptonomicon". There are also passing references to things from general relativity (or, at least, a common formalism for tensor analysis) that you will not realize are there unless you've done some advanced undergraduate (or even graduate) Physics courses....

Try Borges's short stories (2)

Shaterri (253660) | about 2 years ago | (#41757645)

While not often directly mathematical, several of Jorge Luis Borges's short stories are interesting efforts on his part to grapple philosophically with many of the concepts of infinity: The Library of Babel most famously, but also great stories like The Book of Sand, The Aleph, and even Death and the Compass. They won't necessarily tickle you in the same way that Stephenson's work did, but they're still a fine jumping-off point into fascinating and deeply philosophical mathematics.

anti-recommendation (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 2 years ago | (#41757647)

don't bother with anything by rudy rucker. except the hacker and the ants, or maybe white light if you're desperate.

anyway, someone mentioned greg egan; i'll second that in general. i don't know exactly what you mean by "mathematical" that would exclude 70s hard sf; greg egan might be too close to that or not. i don't know.

and although it barely qualifies, stanislaw lem's the investigation [] was very interesting to me; the description at wikipedia is accurate and as spoiler-free as it could be. actually, anything by stanislaw lem; his stories usually involve flights of bizarre logic, like a science-fiction lewis carroll.

Re:anti-recommendation (1)

mfnickster (182520) | about 2 years ago | (#41757749)

don't bother with anything by rudy rucker. except the hacker and the ants, or maybe white light if you're desperate.

Oh, I don't know... I loved Rucker's "Software" trilogy, but it's not about math at all.

If you like pondering infinities, White Light is a lot of fun (but be sure to read The Divine Comedy first).

I haven't read Bruce Sterling's Involution Ocean, but a friend of mine highly recommended it to me.

Non-Fiction (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#41757665)

If good non-fiction is ok, find some Feynman. You will be forever in awe.

Another great non-fiction is Inviting Disaster by James Chiles. It's an engineering book, not a math book, but I think it's still cool in the same vein. Every chapter recreates the events of a famous or influential disaster (nitroglycerin plants explode, buildings collapse, reactors melt down, etc.) and examines the engineering and human decisions that caused or exacerbated the problem. It's been a while since I read it, but IIRC it had great discussions on Three Mile Island, Challenger, and the 2000 Concorde crash.

Re:Non-Fiction (1)

codeAlDente (1643257) | about 2 years ago | (#41757879)

I second Feynman. His physics lectures are by far his most famous, but his Lectures on Computation is a fascinating look at the mathematical basis for machine computation, and are very underrated, IMO.

Re:Non-Fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758025)

Agreed. When it comes to Math(s) all the best stuff is non-fiction. Well written titles are just as entertaining and far more informative. I'd suggest also suggest:
Anything by Marcus du Sautoy, especially The Music of the Primes and Finding Moonshine.
Phillip Ball's Critical Mass

Already mentioned, Hofstadter's GEB is an absolute must read.

Dava Sobel's Latitude is a great page turner but it does focus on science history, but there's plenty of good math in it.
In the same vein, there was another about geomagnetism that eludes me, maybe someone can fill that one in.

The greatest one of all (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757687)

I can't believe nobody here has posted this yet...

One of the most underrated books ever written is Alice in Wonderland. No, it's not "just" an absurdist children's tale. The author, "Lewis Carroll," was really the mathematician and logician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson -- and some mathematicians claim that almost everything that happens in the book is an allegory of a mathematical theorem or algorithm of some kind. I'm not qualified to say, but it is a marvelous work, and some people have written mathematical footnotes for it.

Re:The greatest one of all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757949)

I've read the story, but I don't recall there being any math in Alice's world. Some parts of the book may be related to mathematics in some way, but if so it's pretty buried.

Re:The greatest one of all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758113)

Not explicit math. Allegories of mathematical theorems or logic. Of course it's "buried" -- it's ostensibly a children's book.

Easy (4, Funny)

DHalcyon (804389) | about 2 years ago | (#41757745)

For mathematical fiction, I've found nothing beats macroeconomics textbooks.

The Gold Bug by E.A.P. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757753)

It's been a while since I've read it, and I don't remember how much math was in it, but the premise of the story is that a guy stumbles upon a cryptogram from Captain Kidd and works on deciphering it so he can find Kidd's legendary lost stash of treasure. And Poe's always fun to read.

Uh (1)

johnsnails (1715452) | about 2 years ago | (#41757759)

What's wrong with imaginary numbers

More computer than math but ... (1)

cab15625 (710956) | about 2 years ago | (#41757781)

Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll was kind of a fun read ... compares to Cryptonomicon the way The Hobbit compares to LOTR.

Non-Fiction Math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757791)

"Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea"

Wow!! no one has said these. (1)

Foo2rama (755806) | about 2 years ago | (#41757797)

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling - Historical Fiction about Babbage.

The Ghost from the Grand Banks by Arthur C Clark - extensive subplot around chaos and fractal theory.

You can also make an argument about the Foundation series from Asimov being math based. The entire series is predicated on using math to predict the future and Humanities actions.

Re:Wow!! no one has said these. (2)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 2 years ago | (#41757985)

Difference Engine sucked at every possible level.

Rudy Rucker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757805)

He's great! Gets pretty wacky though. How about "Mathematicians in Love"?

Snow Crash was utter tripe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757823)

Neal Stephenson's 1999 Cryptonomicon was a great yarn.

Sorry, you lost me there. I read Snow Crash and it was a terrible book. Unless Cryptonomicon was at least 300 times better than Snow Crash, *anything* is better than reading Neal Stephenson, except perhaps all the fiction written by El Ron.

But, as other posters have mentioned, Martin Gardner is quite entertaining, and non-fiction, to boot!

A few suggestions (1)

Dan Morenus (179942) | about 2 years ago | (#41757829)

Here are a few of my favorites; I also suggest checking up reviews on e.g. Amazon to see what's really right for you. The "Customers Who Bought this Item Also Bought" section on Amazon for any of these might provide some great inspiration as well.

Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics, by John Derbyshire
Very engaging account of the history of the Riemann Hypothesis, which is central to prime numbers especially but if proven is known to imply a great number of other results. Got into enough actual mathematics to be a great read for me.

The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved: How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry, by Mario Livio
Recounts a lot of the history of the development of group theory and its application to proving that general quintic equations do not have algebraic solutions. Much lighter on the math and heavier on the human interest which was okay with me as there are some pretty colorful characters involved.

Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem, by Simon Singh
Covers the history surrounding Fermat's Last Theorem. I read it quite a while ago so I'm hazy on the details but it was written after the theorem was proven and I think devotes two chapters to the story of the proof. This is the story of the proof, not an explanation as such a thing would be way beyond the realm of popular literature.

Re:A few suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758247)

I read some book by Simon Singh and did not enjoy it that much (The Code Book)
Can't really tell why, because that was interesting.

About prime numbers, I've read the one from Marcus du Sautoy, The Music of Primes, and enjoyed quite much. Even though I wasn't very good at advanced maths, it was understandable and explained such as I felt like I understood the underlying of the prime numbers.

Richard Powers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757841)

Check out Richard Powers.

Roger Penrose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41757855)

Roger Penrose's books, "The Emperor's New clothes?" and I forget the second volume were good.
Hard going though. very dense (or I was...) I could only read a chapter at a time...

Diaspora, by Greg Egan (1)

dr_leviathan (653441) | about 2 years ago | (#41757901)

The science fiction novel called Diaspora by Greg Egan had some interesting mathy sections. It wasn't rigorous, as I recall, but it certainly went into more "depth" than your average sci-fi story.

I just got outvoted in the Star Trek captain poll (1)

PingXao (153057) | about 2 years ago | (#41757907)

I guess I'm in the minority here, too, since I didn't like Cryptonomicum at all. It was OK but at this point I don't even remember what the plot was, never mind the characters.

Trying to remember (2)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 2 years ago | (#41757965)

I read a story the premise of which involved a computer that was designed to create/discover new mathematical theorems. At some point there was found to be an issue in some areas of research, and it was ultimately concluded that another similar effort was being made elsewhere in the universe, and the two efforts were at odds. Essentially the math became 'true' instantly/everywhere when it was first proven, but with different starting points/assumptions the two mathematical realms were in conflict. Don't remember the name/author, and I would love to know (assuming anyone recognizes it from my poor description) to reread and recommend.

Re:Trying to remember (3, Informative)

mdenham (747985) | about 2 years ago | (#41758289)

That would be "Luminous", by... hey, Greg Egan again. Good story, if kind of short.

If you want to stick in that general direction of things, BTW, the short story collection Dark Integers and Other Stories has that plus four other more or less loosely-related (I believe only one actually qualifies as a sequel to Luminous) stories. Probably your best bet for sticking to math-related fiction.

The Last Theorem (1)

rloper (109395) | about 2 years ago | (#41758017)

Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl's "The Last Theorem" is interesting with a mathematician as the protagonist.

Mathenauts (short story anthology) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758019) --amazon link if you want to buy it online, or go find it in your local bookstore.

It's an anthology of math themed stories. Like most anthologies, quality varies, but there are several quite good ones in there.

Martin Gardner (1)

sehlat (180760) | about 2 years ago | (#41758037)

Martin Gardner wrote a number of awesome mathematical short stories. His "No-sided Professor," "The Devil and Simon Flagg" and others remain classics.

Also, Raymond Smullyan's puzzle books can be seen as mathematical/logical "journeys" and you're invited to tag along.

Math Sci-Fi Anthology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758073)

Look at: Mathenauts: Tales of Mathematical Wonder
Rudy Rucker (Editor)

Back in print... (1)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | about 2 years ago | (#41758097)

Fantasia Mathmatica [] It was out of print forever but should be on the shelf of everyone who loves math or teaches math.

I think (4, Interesting)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | about 2 years ago | (#41758131)

You may like 50 shades of Grey, it has the number 50 on it.

Math books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758155)

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth by Paul Hoffman (Jul 15, 1998)

The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel (Jun 1, 1992)

Any Martin Gardner book

A Beautiful Mind

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition by Lewis Carroll, Martin Gardner and John Tenniel (Nov 17, 1999)

Proofs from THE BOOK by Martin Aigner, Günter M. Ziegler and Karl H. Hofmann (Oct 28, 2012)

The World of Mathematics (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#41758189)

"A Small Library of the Literature of Mathematics from A'h-mose' the Scribe to Albert Einstein, Presented with Commentaries and Notes by James R. Newman."

Four volumes. Reprinted in paperback by Dover. But the hardcover originals are worth tracking down. Put them on a shelf with "Mathematics and the Imagination." There is nothing to be found which will give you more pleasure.

Short stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758277)

If short stories are ok I would second the suggestion for Borges, and add that Ted Chiangs short stories have a similar philosophical and mathematical bent to them, especially "Division by Zero," which can be read online. If you'd rather read on dead-tree, it's included in a book of his short stories

You might also check out a short story called "The Axiom of Choice", not by Ted Chiang, but in a very similar vein. It's been read on one of my favorite podcastes (actually fantasy fiction oriented, mostly) Podcastle:

Re:Short stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758313)

Er.. what I meant to say is that his short story collection is called "Stories of your life and others,"

Non-fiction (1)

robkill (259732) | about 2 years ago | (#41758299)

Simon Singh's book "Fermat's Enigma" on Andrew Wiles' proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. []

Morris Kline' s book "Mathematics, the Loss of Certainty" on how the discovery of geometries where perpendicular lines intersect in more than one point (ellipsoidal and hyperbolic) led to the efforts to determine whether Mathematics as we know it is consistent. Leads up to Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem. []

The Practice Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758333)

Flatland, as was already-mentioned is excellent (and short).

The Practice Effect by David Brin fits the bill, I think, as well.

Count to a Trillion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758335)

By John C Wright. New series, plenty of math.

Robert Anton Wilson (2)

supergringo (1476731) | about 2 years ago | (#41758343)

Read the Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy for hilarious, ingenious, quantum physics-based fiction.

Funny you should ask... (4, Informative)

EPAstor (933084) | about 2 years ago | (#41758361)

Here's an excellent source of mathematical fiction... Alex Kasman's curated list of mathematical fiction [] ! I highly recommend it.

Also, a story I discovered through this list, which was truly spectacular: Ted Chiang's "Division by Zero". Freely available here [] .

My favourite piece of mathematical fiction: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41758385)

i = sqrt(-1)

Here you go... (0)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#41758393)

(Good non-fiction math-reads are also gratefully accepted. What have you got?)

The Romney/Ryan budget plan is a good, scary read, but it's pure fiction. :-)

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