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back to article Final Arthur C Clarke novel on the way

The final novel by legendary sci-fi author Arthur C Clarke is to be published in August. According to the Independent, Clarke's unfinished book The Last Theorem was completed by fellow scribe Frederik Pohl. Publisher HarperCollins coughed six figures to secure the rights earlier this year. The book appears to have been a truly …

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Frederick Pohl

Top man - even if (at 88) he's nearly as old as Arthur C Clarke, he can still write most of today's sci-fi authors under the table.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/Frederik_Pohl_Eaton_2008-05-17.png

If you haven't read them, check out 'Farthest Star' and 'Beyond the Blue Event Horizon'.

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My God, it's full of stars

Stephen Baxter's 'The Light of Other Days' co-authored with Clarke is an outstanding read.

(the same can't be said of Baxter's other collaborations with Clarke unfortunately.)

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@Frederick Pohl

I'd have to agree, but recommend reading the whole 'Gateway' series, not just "Beyond the Blue Event Horizon", which is second in the series.

When I read about the final Arthur C. Clarke novel being released (on the Register), I immediately pre-ordered it on Amazon. Something to look forward to next month.

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Fred Pohl

He was always good at both plots and predictions. Find a copy of "Gladiator-at-Law", co-written with Cyril Kornbluth in 1955. Its world is MUCH closer to the present than Orwell's 1984 ever was or will be, all the way from what profession owns and runs everything through urban living to street gangs.

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oo!

i've only read Gateway but thoroughly enjoyed it. loved the yarn he span (spun?) in it.

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Stop

erm...

not to be pedantic or anything, but wasn't Fermat's "Last Theorem" recently SOLVED?

http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.fermat.html

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Excellent!

Great men, both. Thanks for the tip-off.

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Pohl

Generally when some great writer's notes or incomplete books are 'finished' by someone else the results are anything from crap to execrable - I give you Brian Herbert as an example of the worse end of the spectrum.

However, Pohl is an accomplished writer who seems to understand that if a thing can be said in 10 words then it is better not to use 100. So I look forward to the book.

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Pohl & Kornbluth

Pretty much anything with these two authors' names on the cover is a guaranteed winner. As well as "Gladiator-at-Law", I like "The Space Merchants" (advertisers not astronauts!) written two years earlier.

As an aside, why are there so many successful sci-fi collaborations - "Farthest Star" is by Pohl & Williamson, and Niven & Pournelle immediately spring to mind - when collaborative writing is so rare (or just used as a gimmick) in most other genres?

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@ E

"Pohl is an accomplished writer who seems to understand that if a thing can be said in 10 words then it is better not to use 100"

Thank fuck he didn't get Gentry Lee, then! He seems to believe the opposite - I'm presuming, given the difference in thickness between Rendezvous With Rama (Clarke) and Rama II (Clarke and Lee), that Lee is the bastard responsible for all the verbal diarrhoea... like spending 14 pages painstakingly describing the growth of shanty towns and the decline of civilisation merely to explain why technology hasn't advanced a lot in the twenty years since the first Raman ship turned up. Seriously, the whole thing could have been explained away in a couple of bits of taut, well-written dialogue referencing "the Collapse" and the characters could have got on with the adventure.

Pohl's good. I look forward to reading the book when it comes out.

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Re-Solved

"not to be pedantic or anything, but wasn't Fermat's "Last Theorem" recently SOLVED?"

Yes, but from early info released when this book was sold it apparently involves a Martian mathematician who comes up with a simple, short proof of Fermat's theorem (the famous proof of Andrew Wiles runs to hundreds of pages and is incredibly complex), rather like the one Fermat famously claimed to have found but couldn't fit into that margin.

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Let's not to be condescending

It's SF, not sci-fi. Sheesh!

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Re: pedant

"not to be pedantic or anything, but wasn't Fermat's "Last Theorem" recently SOLVED?"

A theorem is still a theorem even when it's solved. Check the dictionary.

Mine's the one covered in chalk marks.

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Interesting collaboration

Two grand-masters working together, and Clarke apparently saw the final version of the work? Unlike the previous 'collaborations' of his I'll be looking forward to this one.

And if people want to mention abominations other than to Frank Herbert's legacy, what about the Spider Robinson hash of an unfinished Heinlein work? Dire!

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@Dai Kiwi

=> Spider Robinson hash of an unfinished Heinlein work? Dire!

How would you tell? Wasn't most of Heinlein's later work pretty dire anyway? I always found it (past tense, can't bear to think about re-reading it after the disappointment of reading it as it came out) excruciatingly bloated, self-indulgent, self-referential and ultimately pointless.

Mine's the one with the asbestos outer-layer...

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Theorems and Conjectures

Actually, a statement about mathematics has to be proven before it can be called a theorem.

Until Andrew Wiles came along, what was called Fermat's Last Theorem should really have been called Fermat's Conjecture. With the proof, it would normally become Wiles' Conjecture.

However, mathematicians had their reasons for extending special courtesy to Pierre de Fermat in this case.

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@ Pete Wood

Not necessarily going to disagree with you. I rarely re-read much written after 'Moon Is A Harsh Mistress'.

The unfinished work was originally intended to be one of the 'juveniles' he did for Scribners in the 1950s, so before the indulgences of his later works.

Robinson however...

I'd've rather seen Sheffield, Steele, Scalzi or any number of others finish the job.

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@ Jon Tocker

i was just going to say the same thing myself, until i saw your comment. the books arthur c clarke wrote with gentry lee were dire. let's hope this particular 'collaboration post mortem' turns out to be slightly less bloated.

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When talking about dreadful post-mortem collaborations...

how can the Silmarillion not get a mention? That was as dreadful a piece of work as I have ever had the misfortune of trying to read. I have read EULAs that were clearer, more concise, and less mind-numbing.

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Friday, etc.

What happened with Heinlein's Friday? The first half was great, the second dire... I guessed someone took over.

The Rama series was not the best Clarke, especially the later ones. Seemed an excuse to generate words. Childhoods End always scared me!

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unfinished works

I found the Silmarillion to be a great book for helping me get to sleep.

The Brian Herbert completion of the Dune series was based on Franks notes, and written with K.J.Anderson, who is a pretty good writer if the Saga series is anything to go by. I didn't find the prequels and ultimate sequel to be that bad. Despite a few continuity issues, I enjoyed reading them.

What I'm really dreading is the completion of the Wheel of Time series...

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@ Nick Pettefar

I thoroughly enjoyed Rendezvous With Rama and always hoped there would be a sequel (as hinted at by the "Ramans do everything in threes" epiphany at the end) so when Rama II came out I grabbed it with great enthusiasm and read it with mounting disappointment. My principal thoughts on Rama II were, "Guess who's being paid by the word."

I mean, let's interrupt the narrative for a lengthy flashback that gave /me/ a lengthy flashback to "Social Studies" classes in High School. Errr, hello? I /have/ studied Soweto, I /do/ know how shanty towns form and I /don't/ need to read a rehash of your old high school essay on the topic to know that you also know - especially not just to understand how come technology has not advanced much in 20 years. I'm intelligent, I love puzzles and working things out: drop in a couple of spoken references to the Collapse and have the characters drive through/past a shanty town or two and I'll work out the reasons myself, thanks, now get on with the frigging story!

And despite devoting such an inordinate amount of time to why technology hadn't advanced, I do not recall reading in it anywhere what happened to the "Simps" (Clarke's genetically modified SuperChimps that were used as servants in RWR) - they seem to have inexplicably vanished.

Needless to say that after that, when I saw Gentry Lee's name on the other Rama sequels, I didn't bother getting them.

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Many little steps do not a large one make

I found that reading Brian Herbert was somewhat less numbing if I skipped about every third paragraph.

As for Gentry, I diagnose incurable didactic verbosity. Not conducive to leaps of imagination and visionary projection!

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@Jon Tocker

"Thank fuck he didn't get Gentry Lee, then! He seems to believe the opposite - I'm presuming, given the difference in thickness between Rendezvous With Rama (Clarke) and Rama II (Clarke and Lee), that Lee is the bastard responsible for all the verbal diarrhoea... like spending 14 pages painstakingly describing the growth of shanty towns and the decline of civilisation merely to explain why technology hasn't advanced a lot in the twenty years since the first Raman ship turned up. Seriously, the whole thing could have been explained away in a couple of bits of taut, well-written dialogue referencing "the Collapse" and the characters could have got on with the adventure."

How about this, then, instead? :)

"Thank god it's not Gentry Lee and his 14-page bouts of descriptive diahrea!"

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