a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Quarantine (1977)
Arthur C. Clarke
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

For safety's sake, all organic life on the planet Earth has been wiped out by automatic defenses. The investigator looking into this regrettable turn of affairs in an otherwise promising species discovers that the trigger was "six operators", whose permutations and combinations were so great that they threatened to overwhelm all available computational resources for magnitudes of time far greater than the history of the universe.

This very short story was written as part of a scheme to print a series of SF stories on postcards which apparently never panned out. It was first published in ISAAC ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE #1 (with an introduction longer than the story).

More information about this work can be found at
(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to Quarantine
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Pacifist by Arthur C. Clarke
  2. The Tale of the Big Computer (aka The End of Man?) by Hannes Alfven (writing as Olof Johannesson)
  3. Ms Fnd in a Lbry by Hal Draper
  4. A New Golden Age by Rudy Rucker
  5. Message Found in a Copy of Flatland by Rudy Rucker
  6. The Holmes-Ginsbook Device by Isaac Asimov
  7. The Indefatigable Frog by Philip K. Dick
  8. The Mathenauts by Norman Kagan
  9. The Zero Theorem by Pat Rushin (screenplay) / Terry Gilliam (director)
  10. Unreasonable Effectiveness by Alex Kasman
Ratings for Quarantine:
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:
1.67/5 (3 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.33/5 (3 votes)

GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,
MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

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Great News for 1 April 2016: The long awaited cover of the comic book adaptation of The Adventures of Topology Man has been released. See here for details.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)