The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl


Science Fiction The Last TheoremArthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl; DelRey/Ballantine Books 2008WorldCatYoung Ranjit Subramanian is fascinated by Fermat’s math theorem of prime numbers. He lives attends the university in his native Sri Lanka. After some “creative” computer work, Ranjit is able to access math journals and texts to study in his free time. Classes bore him – except Astronomy, where he excels. After losing his best friend to England and then his home, Ranjit finds himself with extra time on his hands so he spends the next few years concentrating on proving Fermat’s theorem.

What Ranjit, or anyone else on Earth, doesn’t know is that Earth is scheduled for destruction. The Grand Galactics have seen humans’ evolution on Earth and have decided to sterilize them because they are too violent. They can’t be bothered, so send the Nine Limbs to observe Earth and the 1.5s to destroy it. Since they can’t travel faster than the speed of light, it will take a couple decades before the aliens arrive. Humans proceed on their way, building a space tower in Sri Lanka to reach the upper atmosphere to facilitate energy efficient space travel.

A coalition of countries band together in the United Nations, having support of the Big Three, China, Russia, and the United States. They build a powerful, non-lethal electric pulse weapon. After a few “demonstrations”, warring countries start coming to peace settlements. And the aliens keep coming…

Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl have both been honored as science fiction Grand Masters. This is the only time they worked together. The book has too many things going on, in my opinion. There is the mathematics throughout the book used as mystery and research. There is the story of the space tower and the (slightly) relocated Sri Lanka, Clarke’s home. There is the story of the world politics. Most of the smaller countries are at war with someone and the Big Three control most of the resources. There is the invading aliens that are on their way under direction of the Great Galactics, beings beyond corporeal bodies.

I appreciated The Last Theorem but wasn’t pulled in. None of the above stories are filled out well but have the potential. The book gives a good portrayal of Sri Lanka. I didn’t know anything about the country before, but am a bit more informed now.

Notice: Non-graphic violence, Suggestive dialogue or situations

More books by Arthur C. Clarke
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