Short Stories About Math, Mathematics, Numbers or Infinity

These stories deal with mathematics or numbers in some way.

“Unreasonable Effectiveness” by Alex Kasman

Amanda Birnbaum is on a tiny island. She’s found the house she was looking for. This address subscribes to all the top research journals. She needs to talk to whoever lives here. When she rings the bell, she feels an urge to run off.

This story can be read in the preview of Reality Conditions(Pg 1)

“Technical Error” by Arthur C. Clarke

Richard Nelson is making a routine temperature check on the liquid helium. It’s in range; the insulation is working. He’s in the pit of the generator, the first one to use superconductivity. The load on the power network has been steadily rising. Lights, cookers and heaters are being turned on all over the city, and an observatory powers up its magnets’ coils due to an unexpected astronomical event. The strain reaches its peak as Nelson reaches the center of the pit.

This is the ninth story in the preview of The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke(57% into preview)

“Inflexible Logic” by Russell Maloney

Mr. Bainbridge is a thirty-eight-year-old bachelor who lives comfortably in a large house. At a cocktail party, he first heard from Mr. Weiss an old mathematical cliché—if six chimpanzees were given typewriters they would produce the world’s great literature in a million years. Mr. Bainbridge is fascinated by the idea. He wants to put it to the test. He sets everything up on his property.

“The Law” by Robert M. Coates

One evening in the late 1940s, the Triborough Bridge experienced its largest volume of outbound traffic ever. It was a normal Wednesday evening; no reason could be discovered for the anomaly. The Law of Averages seemed not to be functioning. There are other reports of unbalanced behavior that confirm there’s a problem.

“Young Archimedes” by Aldous Huxley

A young English couple rent a house in Italy because it has a great view, and a local peasant boy, Guido, makes an excellent playmate for their own son. Guido is a gifted child, with an affinity for music, and a natural understanding of mathematics. The landlady wants to adopt Guido to mold him and make money from his talents.

“The Nine Billion Names of God” by Arthur C. Clarke

A group of Tibetan monks believe that the universe will end when all the possible names of God are written down. By hand it will take another 15,000 years to finish the job, so they get a computer that can print all the possible letter combinations in three months.

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“—And He Built a Crooked House” by Robert A. Heinlein

Quintus Teal, an architect, expounds on what a house really is, to his friend Bailey. He’s disappointed in his colleagues’ ordinary take on house design. He sees a house as a living, dynamic, changing thing. When Bailey dismisses the ranting with a comparison to the fourth dimension, it gives Teal an idea.

“A Subway Named Möbius” by A. J. Deutsch

The Boylston shuttle ties together all seven train lines on four levels. One day, train #86 disappears, but it’s not noticed right away. An engineer makes a connection to the recent reports of missing persons. An investigation identifies about 350 missing people, in addition to the train. A mathematician has a theory about a node—a singularity.

Read “A Subway Named Möbius”

“The Library of Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges

The narrator’s universe, a Library, is made up of endless galleries full of books. He has been looking for one in particular. It contains every possible book that could ever be written. As a result, most of its contents are complete nonsense.

Read “The Library of Babel”