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Thread: Is there a term for this? What other books do this?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Is there a term for this? What other books do this?

    My current WIP combines fantasy with economics, and governs them with mathematics. Real world theories and equations are given a fantasy spin, but still have the same level of complexity.

    Needless to say, it's going to be dense. My protagonist is a brilliant mathematician who goes up against an even more brilliant society of intellectuals.

    I'm trying to present it in two "layers" -- one where less technical people will get the gist of it, and one where more technical people will understand the meaning of it.

    Is there a correct term for this "genre"?
    Is there a hard science fiction equivalent for fantasy?
    What other novels do what I'm wanting to do?
    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    What's the fantasy aspect?

    There's magic/fantasy realism, but that involves a shit load of worldbuilding and "touring" the reader around the world so they understand it.

    Probably.

    You're writing a story of economics in a fantasy setting. You don't need dragons and wizards fighting a war to make it fantasy.

    One of my deepest weaknesses is math. I have a faint understanding of what you're trying to do and what it'll turn out to be in the real world, but have no idea what its called. You'd probably be playing with bases. But, I dunno, there's a reason why I ran out my last college algebra class after the final and got a beer.


    It'll be better if you explain what the hell your doing... for the people who understand numbers, I'd be drooling away.
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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like a fictionalized lecture or polemic.

  4. #4
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    Sounds a bit like what UK Le Guin did in The Dispossessed, which was Science Fiction.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    I don't think you need to worry so much about whether other books have done it. I've read a lot of fantasy, and I've never come across a concept quite like that. As far as economic fantasy goes, Daniel Abraham's work is about the only that jumps to mind, but it's not like yours.

    Your ideas also reminded me of The Dispossessed, where the main character is a brilliant physicist instead of mathematician.

    Ultimately, I think you should go for it. It sounds like a different take on fantasy, and that might interest agents and publishers.

  6. #6
    Creepy Centipede Chasing the Horizon's Avatar
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    There is such a thing as science fantasy, which combines elements of advanced science with magic. I don't know if that applies to your book or not because I honestly have no idea what it is you're writing about.

    As for other books that combine advanced math with fantasy, I'm not aware of any, and I think there may be a reason for that. A lot of people hate math and/or are very bad at it, so you'll be limiting your audience. I know I wouldn't be willing to read a book I was going to miss out on a whole layer of meaning in because I failed math. You might want to think about whether including the dense complexities is really necessary to tell your story.


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  7. #7
    is watching you via her avatar jjdebenedictis's Avatar
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    I don't know of a fantasy book that does this, but Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson has some math in it.

    I'm not quite sure how you'd accurately classify Cryptonomicon, but it's probably called science fiction. It's a pretty unusual book.

    I agree with rwm4768; this sounds unique, and it might prove irresistible to agents and editors who are on the hunt for something they've never seen before. Go for eeeeet!
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  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks for the responses guys. I learned some new things and have added some books to my "need to read" list

    Quote Originally Posted by Chasing the Horizon View Post
    so you'll be limiting your audience.
    Yea, you're right that it will indeed be limiting my audience, but I'm so taken with the idea that I don't really care. I'm not in it for the money, heck, I'm even considering releasing it for free -- under a creative commons license. That's if I ever finish it of course...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chasing the Horizon View Post
    I know I wouldn't be willing to read a book I was going to miss out on a whole layer of meaning in because I failed math.
    Why not? People do this every day, WITHOUT KNOWING IT!

    Allegory, satire, theme, technical stuff, etc, not understanding these things doesn't necessarily make a story less enjoyable.

    If I watch a lawyer show on TV and don't understand lawyer speak, does that mean I can't enjoy the show? Hell no! Most of them are comedies anyway.

    Last edited by Capeless; 02-11-2013 at 12:57 PM.

  9. #9
    i luv you giant bear statue AW Moderator Kitty Pryde's Avatar
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    Epic by Conor Kostick (and sequels) is basically introduction to ethics in the form of a teen science fiction novel about MMORPGs.

    Many, many books have an added layer for the devoted nerd. For instance, Ready Player One is a great novel, and more interesting the more obscure geeky pop culture references you know. Ditto The Rapture of the Nerds, and many others. Peter Watts' novels are more interesting the more neurobiology you know. Ian McDonald's novels are more interesting the more widely traveled you are. On the other hand, books written by non-experts in a subject you are an expert on can seem lame and error-riddled. So--geek out as you wish. Just make sure your obscure references are either skippable or understandable using context clues.

  10. #10
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  11. #11
    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    Why not use the 'Freakonomics' idea? Use understandable examples of how your economic mathematics would play out for your fantasy characters.

  12. #12
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    I often put little things in my writing that will only be accessible at their fullest meaning to a few people. On the face of them, though, they have meaning in context too. Then I laugh a little, hoping that the people who do get them will enjoy them. Eh.

  13. #13
    Odd person AceTachyon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
    It's called Spice and Wolf and many of us are still waiting for season 3.
    This.

    Also, Mathemagics by Margaret Ball. Math is magic.

    And the Wiz books by Rick Cook. Computer programming as magic. (Okay, not exactly math but similar idea)

  14. #14
    Inarticulate Herb MumblingSage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capeless View Post
    My current WIP combines fantasy with economics, and governs them with mathematics. Real world theories and equations are given a fantasy spin, but still have the same level of complexity.

    Needless to say, it's going to be dense. My protagonist is a brilliant mathematician who goes up against an even more brilliant society of intellectuals.

    I'm trying to present it in two "layers" -- one where less technical people will get the gist of it, and one where more technical people will understand the meaning of it.

    Is there a correct term for this "genre"?
    Is there a hard science fiction equivalent for fantasy?
    What other novels do what I'm wanting to do?
    Any thoughts?
    I second the Neal Stephenson comparison. Carolyn Ives Gilman also wrote a short story published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine about economic magic. I've seen his books at some fantasy & sci fi conventions, though unfortunately I haven't seem them branded as spec fic so much as Neal Stephenson books. That said, whether I'd call it fantasy or science fiction depends more on the world it's set in--are there dragons and mythical kingdoms? Other planets? Or is it set in the modern day, real world?

    Also, I would probably enjoy reading this, being a social science student and a fantsy fan myself.
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  15. #15
    Got the hang of it, here Maxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capeless View Post
    My current WIP combines fantasy with economics, and governs them with mathematics. Real world theories and equations are given a fantasy spin, but still have the same level of complexity.

    Needless to say, it's going to be dense. My protagonist is a brilliant mathematician who goes up against an even more brilliant society of intellectuals.

    I'm trying to present it in two "layers" -- one where less technical people will get the gist of it, and one where more technical people will understand the meaning of it.

    Is there a correct term for this "genre"?
    Is there a hard science fiction equivalent for fantasy?
    What other novels do what I'm wanting to do?
    Any thoughts?
    I have a similar problem: a topological proof is needed to get around ("literally") a "gap" in the (dis)continuities of spacetime.

    Answer: luckily the MC is more of a political animal than a idea man. He can't follow the math of the topological argument. Since we will be in the 1st person viewpoint of a character who is trying to keep the MC under political control we will have to take the MC's "hand-waving" arguments as the closest (haha -- quasi-topological joke) we can get to what the real topological argument might be-- which would be something like:

    Any conditional probability assignment that allows conditioning on all non-empty subsets will exhibit an unacceptable rotational bias. Oh and the handwaving argument: even very poorly defined unlikely events can have causal chains that lead somewhere well-defined in your terms as long as they have some connection to your initial universe.

    http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2...nditional.html
    Last edited by Maxx; 02-11-2013 at 09:29 PM. Reason: The handwaving argument
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  16. #16
    figuring it all out Arislan's Avatar
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    I think Michael Crichton had a tendency to go that route, although mostly with science.

  17. #17
    Something like Asimov's theory of psychohistory from the Foundation novels?
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  18. #18
    figuring it all out Arislan's Avatar
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    This is weird, I just mentioned "The Serpent and the Rainbow" in another topic (about zombies) and now my post on this thread is followed by a post with someone with "The Rainbow Serpent" on his sig. What are the odds?

    I just thought I'd share that with you.

  19. #19
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frimble3 View Post
    Why not use the 'Freakonomics' idea? Use understandable examples of how your economic mathematics would play out for your fantasy characters.
    Fantasy Freakonomics.

    That would be the awesome!
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  20. #20
    Delerium ex Ennui Xelebes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chasing the Horizon View Post
    As for other books that combine advanced math with fantasy, I'm not aware of any, and I think there may be a reason for that.
    The most famous example is Alice in Wonderland.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by beezle View Post
    Something like Asimov's theory of psychohistory from the Foundation novels?
    I was going to mention Asimov, although the Foundation novels are straight sci fi. He doesn't go into specific detail on the mathematical equations used in psychohistory, possibly because he hadn't come up with any, but possibly because he didn't want the reader's eyes to glaze over at pages of esoteric data.

    Then again, Asomov was a master at explaining science to the lay person, as he did in a number of non-fiction tomes.

    If you do get into technical detail, you'd better keep it short enough so non-mathematicians don't shut the book and move on to something else.

  22. #22
    Ah-HA! Smiling Ted's Avatar
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    I suspect your biggest problem would be avoiding an info-dump. If the events that play out mirror the economic theories, then you're in the zone.
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