On October 8th, a red-faced newborn will enter the world, available in hardcover and ebook: an infant creature called Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World.
Change is the Only Constant explores the human side of calculus through 28 stories, illustrated with nearly 500 all-new, still-bad drawings. The narratives span from the ancient past to the sci-fi future, each with a kernel of truth about our changing world and the mathematical language thereof.
Starring characters include a wily princess, a dancing speck of dust, and, naturally, a genius dog.
Why calculus? Isn’t that a weed-out class, a college admissions stunt, a gatekeeper for the technical professions? Exactly right—which is why I wanted to show a different side of the subject, a calculus for everyone.
You’ll find the pages of Change is the Only Constant populated not just by name-brand scientists like Archimedes and Einstein, but also by novelists, poets, moral philosophers, and high school English teachers.
It is surreal and delightful to have some of my creative heroes saying things like this:
“It’s the first—and so far only—book of mathematics that I read entirely in a single sitting!” –Ryan North, author of Dinosaur Comics and How to Invent Everything
“This is the book I wish I had before I ever learned what a limit is.” – Zach Weinersmith, creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and New York Times bestselling author
“Wit that had me laughing from page one.” –Grant Sanderson, creator of 3Blue1Brown
“A funny, smart, endlessly engaging book—that just happens to be about one of the most important and complicated subjects on the planet.” –David Litt, New York Times-bestselling author of Thanks, Obama and speechwriter for President Obama
“Orlin’s storybook telling of the history of math is a treat for your inner geek, and a major gift for your adult mind.” –Rebecca Dinerstein, author and screenwriter of The Sunlit Night
“In Ben Orlin’s delightful treatment, calculus is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get next.” –Steven Strogatz, professor of mathematics at Cornell University and author of Infinite Powers
Anyway, if I may be so bold, I humbly invite you to preorder! All preorders count towards first-week sales, and that number is paramount for a book’s success. It will help me share these stories as widely as possible, as well as afford the finest carrot sticks and oatmeal for my growing (and ravenously hungry) family.
As a tasty bonus, once you’ve got a preorder receipt from any bookseller, you’re eligible to receive an exclusive signed print courtesy of my publisher Black Dog & Leventhal. (As they say, Terms and Conditions apply, so check out the form.)
When I settled on the title Change is the Only Constant in 2018, I did not realize how fitting it would prove. By the time the book comes out, I’ll have moved from Massachusetts to Minnesota. I’ll have returned to the classroom after a lonely two-year absence.
And that’s not to mention the real change: the football-sized sentience that just came into my life, holding my finger in one tiny hand and my heart in the other.
The calendar says that I’ve been a father for twelve days, but to me, it feels more like twelve seconds.
Also, twelve centuries.
This baby causes time to collapse around her. She yawns, and continents drift. She cries, and light slows to a crawl. She coos, and my heart expands into a giant red star that engulfs the earth.
Change, as they say, is the only constant.