In 1637, the French mathematician Pierre de Fermat scrawled a note in the margin of a book about an enigmatic theorem. He also neglected to record his proof elsewhere. Thus began a search for the Holy Grail of mathematics, a search that didn't end until 1994, when Andrew Wiles published a 150-page proof. But the proof was burdensome, overlong, and utilized mathematical techniques undreamed of in Fermat's time, and so it left many critics unsatisfied, including young Ranjit Subramanian, a Sri Lankan with a special gift for mathematics and a passion for the famous "Last Theorem".
When Ranjit writes a three-page proof of the theorem that relies exclusively on knowledge available to Fermat, his achievement is hailed as a work of genius, bringing him fame and fortune. But it also brings him to the attention of the National Security Agency and a shadowy United Nations outfit called Pax per Fidem, or Peace Through Transparency, whose secretive workings belie its name. Suddenly Ranjit and his wife, Myra de Soyza, an expert in artificial intelligence, find themselves swept up in world-shaking events, his genius for abstract mathematical thought put to uses that are both concrete and potentially deadly.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone on Earth, an alien fleet is approaching the planet at a significant percentage of the speed of light. Their mission: to exterminate the dangerous species of primates known as homo sapiens.
©2008 Arthur C. Clarke; (P)2008 Random House Audio
I think this story was more Pohl than it was Clarke. I kept reading Clarke's later work trying to find something to equal to what I consider his best work, Childhood's End, and I never found it. This was pretty good but you had to pay pretty close attention as the story got really involved. This isn't one of those you can listen to while you do your taxes and still keep track of the story. Worth a listen.
Letting the rest of the world go by
The listener experiences the science of Clarke and the story telling of Pohl which makes for a delightful listen. Also, the listener gets to learn a little bit about number theory and what's all this talk been about Fermat's last equation and why people through out history have gotten hooked on it.
For me the funnest part of the book surrounds the Galactic Overlords and how they are everywhere but really nowhere and we should just call them "Bill" with quotation marks and should not directly confuse them with God.
It was fun to read about Sri Lanka and get a good discussion on what Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative really means and how it can lead to peace through out the known universe. (There is also a laugh out loud line in the book where the authors refer to the famous people who live in Sri Lanka and dance around the fact that it's one of the author's of the book, funny, funny stuff).
The story itself is a simple story but the presentation interspersed with the science and philosophy made for an engaging whole. The two writers each knew what there strengths were and contributed their strength to the story.
I had a little difficulty getting 'into' this story. It was interesting at times, but did not hold my attention as many other of Clarke's work.
I would not say 'stay away', but for me it would come further down the priority list.
The reader was OK, the story was a little dull and slow.
There are many SciFi books I wish were the basis for a movie or TV show. The Last Theorem is not on that list, and most certainly not before the Azimov Robot & Foundation Series.
When you have listened to most of your favorites, revisit Last Theorem.
Old men telling a story about what they imagine to be how young people live, interspersed with their egomanical views on how to "save the world".
He did ok.
Most everything. All the "happily living along in Sri Lanka" stuff.
The worst book by Clarke I know. By far. All of his old ideas mixed into one book, in a boring story with very little "science fiction".
The History of Math referenced.
Childhood's End, The end of War as we know it.
Though written by a pair of grand master sci fi authors, the book contains too much unneeded material. Do we really need the number games, or the various travels around the world following the hero's sudden fame, or sitting around in a top secret facility for two months with nothing to do? Though the ending is satisfying enough, the journey there can be turtuous and disconnected.
This novel seemed to me more like a very drawn out short story. I have read most of Pohl's novels and none of Clarke's, and am a big Pohl fan, so I have to come to the conclusion that this debacle was more Clarke's doing. In any case, I hope this isn't Pohl's last novel, because I would hate to see such a rich career end on a sour note. I do not recommend this book.
Not only does the book go nowhere, but the narrator also uses an obscene indian accent to simulate how shrilankans speak to each other.. it was terrible
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