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"With this delightful anthology, Frucht throws a bridge across the chasm separating the 'Two Cultures' of science and literature."--Booklist
"A marvelous colledtion of diverse talents and writing."--San Diego Union-Tribune
A wildly inventive treasury of the most artful words ever written about numbers. Mathematics and writing may seem to exist in opposite realms, but as William Frucht reveals, the world of numbers has always held a special fascination for men and women of letters. Imaginary Numbers displays the fruits of this cross-fertilization by collecting the best creative writing about mathematical topics from the past hundred years. In this engaging anthology, we can explore the many ways writers have played with mathematical ideas. Delve into the fourth dimension and infinity, into fantasy and philosophy with such masters as Lewis Carroll, Edwin Abbott Abbott, Philip K. Dick, Martin Gardner, and Alan Lightman. Revel in renowned tales by Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges, cult classics such as Connie Willis's "The Schwartzschild Radius,"and lesser-known gems by such visionaries as William Gibson and A. K. Dewdney. For mathematical mavens and literary lions alike, Imaginary Numbers adds up to one fascinating read.
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Don't be fooled by the title of Imaginary Numbers. Editor William Frucht hasn't devoted a book to explicating the many mysteries of the square root of minus one. What he has done is far more impressive. Pursuing what he envisions as "a truly literary science fiction," Frucht has dared to collect an idiosyncratic company of writers--including such disparate names as Rudy Rucker, Italo Calvino, William Gibson, and Lewis Carroll--into one eclectic, accomplished anthology. The unifying theme of these writings, the short stories, essays, out-loud ponderings, even poetry, is the world of mathematics: every contributor is either "using mathematics to tell stories or using stories to explain mathematics," what Frucht describes as two sides of the same coin.
What Einstein's Dreams did for time, Imaginary Numbers does for mathematics, posing a meditation that manages to be thought provoking, intellectually rigorous, and simply delightful all at the same time. (In fact, an excerpt from Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams appears in the collection.) Some of the titles might be familiar--like Gibson's "Burning Chrome" or Jorge Luis Borges's "Library of Babel"--but the breadth of Frucht's selections ensures that you'll find more than a few undiscovered gems within. --Paul HughesFrom the Inside Flap:
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