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Mathematicians in Love [Paperback]

Rudy Rucker
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (1 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765320398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765320391
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 14.5 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,291,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Reality is never more unpredictable than when two mathematicians are in love with the same girl, and can change the world to get her. Bela and Paul, two wild young mathematicians, are friends and roommates, and both are in love with Alma, Bela's girlfriend. They fight it out by changing reality using cutting-edge math. The contemporary world they live in is not quite this one, but much like Berkeley, California, and the two graduate students are trying to finish their degrees and get jobs. It doesn't help that their unpredictable advisor Roland is a mad mathematical genius who has figured out a way to predict specific bits of the future that can cause a lot of trouble...and that he's starting to see monsters in mirrors. When Bela and Paul mess around with reality, all heaven and hell break loose. Those monsters of Roland's were really there, but who are they? This novel is a romantic comedy with a whole corkscrew of SF twists from the writer who twice won the Philip K. Dick Award for best SF novel.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Wackyland 4 Sep 2009
Format:Hardcover
There aren't too many books that attempt to make a story out of mathematical theories, but this one gives it a go. In some ways, this book does a pretty good job of satirizing academia, political and financial shenanigans, patent law, video blogging, and the sub-genre of alternate realities.

It's the story of two Ph.D. candidates working on their doctoral thesis, who along with their advisor come up with a method to accurately model complex everyday happenings, so accurately that the future can be predicted, at least for the short term. Rather than being a very staid story of how to develop and publish the theory, however, it flies off in multiple directions, as both students fall in love with the same lady; their advisor, while brilliant, is also very egotistical and more than a little round the bend; everyone is suddenly subject to being plastered all over the net due to the distribution of cheap vlogging camera rings; playing in a rock band is, it seems, as important as developing his theory for one of the candidates; murder and rigging elections go hand in hand; and then it gets really weird with various odd aliens poking their snouts in to see just how predictable these `humans' are.

Unhappily, while I found all these ideas made for great hodge-podge of story, the characters themselves neither engaged me nor were fully believable. Nor could I fully buy into the idea that current real-time and near future events would be fully computationally tractable, even with the caveat that the `reality' of the starting world of this story was `docile', not subject to truly random events.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surfer mathpunks rule, dog! 9 April 2007
By Peter D. Tillman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Another very entertaining Rucker novel -- one of his best. Surfer mathpunk rules, dog!

You won't be surprised to learn that Robert Sheckley was his first inspiration to write SF -- see rudyrucker[dot]com[slash]mathematiciansinlove

Interesting guy. Cute pix, too. He has a massive pdf of notes for the book online -- -- but for heaven's sake, don't read it first! Some (spoiler-free) samples:

"In principle you could hypertunnel from a Zone B world, but in practice you can't get the tech together. The evil rays revel in chaotic class-three and class-four zones." -- p.183

"What is wrong with those stubborn, clannish SF fans, Frek is exactly the kind of book they want, for heaven's sake, it's just like Lord of the Rings or Henry Potter or The Golden Compass..." --p.185

Very cool book, from an underappreciated author. If you've never tried a Rucker, this would be a good place to start.

Happy reading--

Peter D. Tillman
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wackyland 26 Mar 2007
By Patrick Shepherd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There aren't too many books that attempt to make a story out of mathematical theories, but this one gives it a go. In some ways, this book does a pretty good job of satirizing academia, political and financial shenanigans, patent law, video blogging, and the sub-genre of alternate realities.

It's the story of two Ph.D. candidates working on their doctoral thesis, who along with their advisor come up with a method to accurately model complex everyday happenings, so accurately that the future can be predicted, at least for the short term. Rather than being a very staid story of how to develop and publish the theory, however, it flies off in multiple directions, as both students fall in love with the same lady; their advisor, while brilliant, is also very egotistical and more than a little round the bend; everyone is suddenly subject to being plastered all over the net due to the distribution of cheap vlogging camera rings; playing in a rock band is, it seems, as important as developing his theory for one of the candidates; murder and rigging elections go hand in hand; and then it gets really weird with various odd aliens poking their snouts in to see just how predictable these 'humans' are.

Unhappily, while I found all these ideas made for great hodge-podge of story, the characters themselves neither engaged me nor were fully believable. Nor could I fully buy into the idea that current real-time and near future events would be fully computationally tractable, even with the caveat that the 'reality' of the starting world of this story was 'docile', not subject to truly random events. The last third of the book that deals with the consequences of how the theorem is implemented seems to be an adventure in pure wackiness, and doesn't seem to grow out of the initial theorem at all, though it is a fine example of fractal mathematics and infinite recursion as applied to 'alternate' realities. At least some of the mathematical statements will probably lose those readers without a solid background in the field, not good when the story arc depends on said mathematics.

Some fascinating concepts, some good skewering of some of today's trends and societal behaviors, but a story line that is out of control, with characters that aren't quite real people.

---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Trite and Misogynistic 7 Jun 2013
By Elizabeth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm shocked that people are giving this book such high reviews. The plot isn't terribly interesting, the mathematics (and portrayal of graduate school) are questionable, and the women are basically interchangeable sexual props for the men. These aren't mathematicians in love. These are as mathematicians who will sleep with anything that says yes... and who don't require any particularly pleasant personality traits to declare undying affection.

I had to force myself to make it to the end of this book.
7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amusing not by the numbers satire 10 Dec 2006
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In the university, the two mathematic graduate students, Bela Kis and Paul Bridge, are roommates who share much in common besides trying to obtain a PH.D by the numbers and a flat. Both are advised by maniacal mathematician Dr. Roland Haut and each enjoys the lifestyle of an advanced student living in college towns like Humelocke and Klownetown where the zaniest crazies of the universe come together to discuss the meaning of life (more often than not with various forms debating existence). However, what they most share in common is the love of Alma Ziff who is more or less Bela's girlfriend though she zips the bridge at times to be with Paul.

The two roommates compete for who gets the girl at a time when their insane faculty advisor has begun developing a mathematical model that predicts the future; that is when he is not seeing monsters. Jumping off of Mad Haut's theory, Bela and Paul inventing the paracomputer "Gobubble" that predicts even more accurately the future as their advisor's monsters prove real and their love triangle even more acutely convex than keenly isosceles than either student calculated.

Rudy Rucker lampoons politics, universities, mathematical theories, and humanity as he spins a terrific romantic science fiction satire that takes readers where they have never been before with perhaps the only recent exception being the author's novel FREAK AND THE ELIXIR. The math is highbrow insanity as the shortest distance between two points is an arc, but also augments the humorous story line. Haut is way outside the circle of sanity while Bela and Paul argue number theory to determine who ends up with Alma, monsters aside. Readers will appreciate this zany tale that proves the sum of the angles of a romantic triangle does not equal 180 degrees.

Harriet Klausner
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! 6 Mar 2010
By Barry Burd - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Rudy Rucker is still one of the best science fiction writers around. I love his stuff.
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