Pi Day 2013

In honor of 3.14, I bring you a post about mathematical characters in books.

Keladry of Mindelan, in Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet, is good at and enjoys mathematics. She helps her fellow pages through their mathematics classes.

Bitterblue, in Kristin Cashore’s novel of the same name, learned to do complicated sums in her head to protect her thoughts. She easily figures out how to convert between standard 12-hour time and her father’s strange 14-hour time, and is skilled with codes and ciphers.

Natalia in Mercedes Lackey’s Storms trilogy and Tehre in Rachel Neumeier’s Land of the Burning Sands, while secondary characters, are both engineers.

Holly Markham in Karin Kallmaker’s Substitute for Love studied mathematics in college, and chooses to go back to it in the course of the novel. 

Varian Johnson’s Rhonda Lee, in My Life as a Rhombus, is a high school school girl who is good at math. She volunteers in the local tutoring center, and tutors a classmate in trigonometry. 

Fantasy novels rarely have anything of science or mathematics, and if a character is scholastically inclined, history or literature is more common. Perhaps in a world of magic, mathematics seems irrelevant. Yet, Pierce, Lackey, Cashore, and Neumeier all fit mathematical characters smoothly into their works. Mathematics has a comfortable presence simply as a characteristic of one of their characters. 

I would love to read more fiction with mathematically (or scientifically) inclined characters. Do you know of any? 

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3 Responses to Pi Day 2013

  1. Magic or Madness trilogy, by Justine Larbalestier — Reason Cansino accesses her magic through mathematics, particularly the Fibbonacci sequence. Though she and her mother lived on the run in the Australian bush much of the time, Sarafina taught her daughter much science and mathematics.

  2. The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson — magic based on geometry and trigonometry.

  3. Tinker, by Wen Spencer
    Quicksilver, by R J Anderson

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