Math prof continues to find success with science fiction

Dr. Robert Dawson

Dr. Robert Dawson

When he’s not teaching or exploring geometry and category theory, Saint Mary’s mathematics professor Dr. Robert Dawson is probably imagining what the future might look like—at his word processor. Since he began writing fiction seven years ago, he’s published a number of short stories—mostly science fiction—and poems.

Though not all his short stories are informed by hard science, mathematical principles often turn up in his written works: "Damned Souls and Statistics" was born from a discussion about statistical techniques and "The Fifth Postulate" came straight out of the undergraduate geometry course that he sometimes teaches. “Ladies’ Night” is about a card shark who schools her marks in probability theory.

“I’ve also written stories based on made-up but plausible results in mathematical logic and real results in classical mechanics,” says Dr. Dawson.

His latest short story, “Sparrowfall” is his second story published in the “Futures” section of Nature, an international weekly journal of science; “Pop-ups” was the first. “Futures” is a science fiction column that presents an eclectic view of what the future may hold. It encourages writers to imagine the limitless possibilities of “what may be lurking around the corner.”

“Sparrowfall” depicts a haunting interaction between a homeless person in crisis and the computerized voice of an autonomous city.