a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Pacifist (1966)
Arthur C. Clarke
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

Clarke, one of the all-time biggest names in serious science fiction, took time to write a series of humorous science fiction tall tales. The stories are narrated by one Harry Purvis, while drinking in the "White Hart", an obscure London pub popular with a scientific crowd.

In "The Pacifist", Purvis tells about a mathematician turned programming genius who designed the ultimate in military computers, viewing battles as simply difficult operations research problems. But because of difficulties with the commanding general, the mathematician turns the computer into the pacifist of the title.

The story contains numerous explicit allusions to mathematics, including Diaphontine equations, the prime number theorem, matrix algebra, and even John Nash's game of Hex.

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Works Similar to The Pacifist
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Quarantine by Arthur C. Clarke
  2. Freemium by Louis Evans
  3. Ms Fnd in a Lbry by Hal Draper
  4. The Tale of the Big Computer (aka The End of Man?) by Hannes Alfven (writing as Olof Johannesson)
  5. Flower Arrangement by Rosel George Brown
  6. The Snowball Effect by Katherine Maclean
  7. The Higher Mathematics by Martin C. Wodehouse
  8. Euler's Equation by Neil Hudson
  9. Another Cock Tale by Chris Miller
  10. Private i by S. R. Algernon
Ratings for The Pacifist:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2/5 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
2.5/5 (2 votes)

GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,
TopicComputers/Cryptography, Algebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,
MediumShort Stories,

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Exciting News: The total number of works of mathematical fiction listed in this database recently reached a milestone. The 1,500th entry is The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for writing the summary of that work (and so many others). I am also grateful to everyone who has contributed to this website. Heck, I'm grateful to everyone who visited the site. Thank you!

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)