Why Mathematics Belongs in Fiction – Part 2

Math and Magic?


Let’s talk some more about math and fiction. First off, you can find my website here, which includes my latest chapbook at Yavanika Press! And check out where you can buy that chapbook with this link.


I recently did a deep dive into the history of mathematics for book writing purposes, and I came across a ton of information that I thought would make for another article on math and fiction. Because some aspects seem like they’re straight out of a fantasy. I thought then I would look at the history of mathematics for this article. I also wanted to apply how math was used back then to writing concepts used today. Does that make sense? (Probably not, but let me go on). Here are a few more reasons why mathematics belongs in fiction.

scientific calculator
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It Was Seen as Magic

Let’s skip to Medieval Europe first. During that time, people believed that mathematics could solve the very order of all things, with the entire universe created in specific mathematical measurements. They might as well have just said that they thought it was magical. And authors keep grouping math and magic together it seems. (The Mathemagician in The Phantom Tollbooth comes to mind. Even mathematicians who also used magic (called “mathemagics”) existed at one point.

There’s also the idea of building magic systems or other fantasy elements based on proven scientific and mathematical concepts. Typically you call this hard science fiction. But that got me thinking just how often math and fiction go together. When it comes to fiction, you can turn anything into something with a magical component. And if mathematicians saw the mathematical concepts they studied as magical, I bet writers can do the same. Take a look at a scientific concept. How can it be used in a story? How can it be integrated into a world and work to solve the problems of that one just like mathematicians tried then?

The Arts Used and Still Use Math

Some of the earliest mathematical texts originated in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Greek mathematics (and the Pythagoreans) took off in the sixth century by establishing the first proofs. But the Romans took a different approach. They applied mathematics for more practical reasons, such as engineering, bookkeeping, and what’s called arts and crafts. They basically took the mathematical concepts explored and applied them to every form of art imaginable.

But how does this apply to writing?

Well, writing is a form of art, and the job of good writing is to help you see things that aren’t in front of you. Look at art like a painting or a clay pot or a sculpture, then look at the math behind it. It’s the invisible thing behind the art. In writing, we do something similar. We look at the meaning behind the words, and we analyze the meanings we see behind it, just as we would with any other form of art.

There’s almost a scientific process to it, one that you don’t see right away. Anything we see in a new light gives us a different perspective. After seeing just how much mathematics affected art, I saw art pieces differently, just as if I were applying a certain idea to a piece of writing and seeing that in a different way. Good writing allows us to look at things that way, just as we can see art from a mathematical perspective along with a creative one.

A Model for Worldbuilding?

Even just looking up the history got me thinking, what if it could be applied to worldbuilding itself? What if the way mathematics was built up over the centuries reflected how one builds a world in writing? Because nothing came right away. People kept coming up with new ideas and concepts, just as writers do when they start from their initial idea and work from there. Writers constantly seek inspiration around them, and they use anything to build on the idea or world they started off with. They then examine where they can go from there. Imagine if math and fiction built their ideas and concepts off each other. Take an idea and watch it develop, see how you can build on it. Creating a world takes time, but so does mathematics.


There’s definitely more information, mathematics and otherwise, that I would like to explore. If you need me, I’ll be on Google Scholar, reading like my life depends on it. But I’m going to keep doing my research for my writing and this blog, so look for more posts like these in the future! Be sure to check out some similar posts as well. I have an awesome piece of news prepared for the next week!

Also check out the first post here!


Want to know more? My portfolio is now COMPLETE, and you can find it here! You can find me in Ariel Chart, The Cedarville Review, Nailpolish Stories, Bluepepper, 50 Word Stories, The Aurora Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, The Drabble, Anti-heroin Chic, Art of Autism, Your Daily Poem, Sanctuary Magazine, Six Sentences, Paragraph Planet, A Story in 100 Words, Five Fleas, and Sledgehammer Lit. You can now also find my FREE microchap at Origami Poems Project, which I am also offering here.

And here’s Foster Your Writing official page on Facebook!

I am also a writer for Coffee House Writers! You can find my work under “Emma Foster” on their website.

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