a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Devouring Tide (1944)
John Russell Fearn (under the pseudonym Polton Cross)
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

Another horridly written story by JRF, this time about an all-consuming, universe-destroying frontier of “non-spacetime” dubbed “Black Infinity”, a shock wave from the original big bang which is now catching up with the matter-universe. JRF has his genius of a protagonist postulate that our universe was a result of a pure thought process acting on absolute nothingness. To escape Black Infinity, far flung alien civilizations are attacking Earth as a temporary foot-hold (we're getting visitors from as far away as the other end of the universe….). The genius builds “mathematical weapons” (“The basic energy quanta of those ships is rendered void because the mathematical postulations making them up are being cancelled out. My weapons are based on the probability waves of the electron, incorporating nine dimensions (!)”) to stop the aliens and also erects “mathematical barriers” (“they're not dealing with material things but transfigurations”) to slow them down. In the end, he uses his mathematical energies to focus intense thoughts on Black Infinity and spawns a new universe.

The story features slower-than-light signals outracing FTL communication and a planet “infinitely closer to earth” than another body….all in all, a nice concept which would have been wonderful in the hands of Asimov or Baxter but completely trashed by JRF

Published in the Summer 1944 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories.

(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 The Devouring Tide
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Second Moon by Russell R. Winterbotham
  2. Mathematica Plus by John Russell Fearn
  3. Mathematica by John Russell Fearn
  4. The Ultimate Analysis by John Russell Fearn
  5. The Mathematical Kid by Ross Rocklynne
  6. The Gostak and the Doshes by Miles J. Breuer (M.D.)
  7. The Crazy Mathematician by Ralph Sylvester Underwood
  8. Methuselah's Children by Robert A. Heinlein
  9. Into the Fourth by Adam Hull Shirk
  10. The Galactic Circle by Jack Williamson
Ratings for The Devouring Tide:
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:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
1/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifAliens, War,
TopicMathematical Physics,
MediumShort Stories,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)