Empire and India Featured in New Fiction Collection

Stories of Smart Girls Using Math to Overcome Colossal Challenges


An ambitious new collection of Young Adult fiction offers ten adventures featuring smart young women using geometry and algebra to colossal battles. Prominent among them are stories and characters of India. 

Rupa Pyradhakrishnan, nicknamed Ruby Pi, is an engineering student in turn-of-the-century London, Rupa solves mysteries at the crossroads of empire, when India began in earnest to seek independence from the Crown. Rupa and her family are caught in the clash of colonialism and modernity, the build-up to war in Europe, and rebellion at home.


A second story tells of a young Baker’s apprentice in a Kashgari village near the Silk Road. Her beloved her aunt is dying. Without the money to pay a doctor, Jayani devises a way to pay the doctors. 

The collection’s author is Tom Durwood, an English instructor and history buff who knows zero about calculus or statistics. Yet he thought it might be interesting to combine resourceful heroines coming of age, turning points in the rise and fall of empire, and mathematics.

The resulting stories are “unlike anything you’ve read,” reports one mat h-teacher beta reader. “Exceptional … family drama disguised as an adventures.” These wicked, idea-filled tales turn dark more often than not. The protagonist of the story “Origins” poisons her caveman rival. The young Benin architect, Isoke,” ruthlessly disposes of an assassin. 


The two-volume (“The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls” and “The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls”) collection is available on Amazon. The author offers his new readers free excerpts on www (dot) the math girls (dot)com.



Tom’s interest in empire grew out of a class he taught, “Literature and Empire,” at Valley Forge Military College. “The classes would look at all kinds of stories according to where they fit in the wheel of empire,” says Durwood. “The cadets really responded to the approach, and that led me to collect empire-related content online.  His online magazine, “Empire Studies,” has been posting interviews and essays for eleven years. 


“Right now, empire is everywhere,” continues Durwood.  “Queen Elizabeth and the British Empire, Vladimir Putin’s effort to re-establish the Soviet Empire – these are front and center. Yet the underlying processes of empire – of one nation controlling another – are always present, in the stories we tell, the food we eat, our technology.”


“Stories, mystery and math go well together… a welcome addition.”
(Jeannine Atkins, author of “Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math”)