Incomplete Proofs by John Chu

Published: 2012 in Bloody Fabulous, a collection of short stories edited by Ekaterina Sedia about fantasy and fashion

Genre: fantasy/science fiction – hard to tell which

Length: 15 pages

Setting: somewhere in an English-speaking country, close to present day

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: The story focuses on two mathematicians. Duncan also has his own fashion house, and he hires Grant to come and model his newest proof. In this world, mathematical proofs are turned into fashion which is created on a runway while doing tumbling passes. Grant is an amazing mathematician/gymnast and he’s able to fix one of Duncan’s proofs on the fly. Duncan wants Grant to come work for him, but Grant’s been burned by Duncan in the past and is leery of joining forces with him again. Duncan eventually convinces Grant to work for him, by offering him tenure and space for his grad students.

Final thoughts: Mathematical proofs done via gymnastics? You can’t write a more fitting story for my family. And then let’s add gymnastics that creates fashion for an added twist. A good proof gets you a published paper and a fashion line. I loved this story. It had all the worry about getting funding or tenure that I recognize from being in academia with a fantastical air of fashion thrown on top. There was even some romantic tension between Grant and Duncan. Grant recognized that Duncan probably wasn’t good for him, but he was attracted both physically and mentally, and then Duncan was able to provide job security as well. It’s a done deal.

Title comes from: Duncan was trying to get Grant to help him work on an unfinished proof that would totally make their mathematical careers.

Reading challenges fulfilled: none since this was a short story

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or anthology title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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