Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions

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Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions was originally written for Round Four of the 2008 Whittaker Prize. The prompt used was the phrase going down an angle so sharp it makes Pythagoras puke. It was given a score of 78/100 by the judge, Rachel Green, putting it in fourth equal place out of 18. The judge felt it was a lovely, convoluted murder story, even if the future tense wobbled a bit.


Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions was performed at Liars' League in London on September 9th, 2008, by Sabina Cameron.


The title of this story is a tribute to Martin Gardner's eponymous book, which I devoured when I was a kid (I know, I should have got out more). At some point, however, it also developed into an exercise in trying to write an entire story in the future tense. In the end I decided that it was probably a bit more than the read could bear, and I added a present tense coda to bring it to a neat conclusion.

I was particularly proud of the name of the cat, µ. This was actually a reference to a well-known mathematical riddle:

Q: Two cats sitting on a sloping roof - which one falls off first?

A: The one with the lowest µ.

(This of course only works if you happen to know that µ is the symbol for the coefficient of friction.)