cover image The Last Theorem

The Last Theorem

Frederik Pohl, Arthur Charles Clarke, . . Del Rey, $27 (299pp) ISBN 978-0-345-47021-8

Grand Masters Pohl (Gateway ) and the late Clarke (1917–2008, best known for 2001 ) collaborated on a can't-put-down adventure that focuses on their mutual strengths: high adventure, fun characters and hard science. Sometime in the near future, teenage Sri Lankan math prodigy Ranjit Subramanian manages to reconstruct and then publish Fermat's claimed proof of his famous last theorem. As Ranjit celebrates fame and fortune, the all-powerful aliens called Grand Galactics see the flash from early nuclear explosions and decide that humanity will have to be wiped out. When Earth's superpowers deploy a new, nonlethal way of handling renegade nations and humanity begins working on global peace and large-scale engineering projects, Ranjit and his family try to broker a truce with the destructive alien force, modeling human optimism through rationality and science. Long passages of math tricks and intrusive narration mar an otherwise enjoyable tale of the struggle between reason and fear. (Aug.)