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. All the Universe in a Mason Jar by Joe Haldeman
  3. Nobody Loves a Moebius Strip by Alice Laurance
  4. Freemium by Louis Evans
  5. Another Cock Tale by Chris Miller
  6. Flower Arrangement by Rosel George Brown
  7. The Snowball Effect by Katherine Maclean
  8. Probability Pipeline by Rudy Rucker / Marc Laidlaw
  9. The Higher Mathematics by Martin C. Wodehouse
  10. Dimensional Analysis and Mr Fortescue by Eric St. Clair
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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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)