Friday, September 12, 2008

The Last Theorem

The late Sir Arthur C. Clarke has always been my favourite science-fiction writer, and Frederik Pohl's Gateway has been, for decades, my pick for the finest science-fiction novel ever written. So when their collaborative novel The Last Theorem was published a few weeks ago, I immediately grabbed it.

And now I've finished it. What I liked most about it is how pleasant it is, how civil (almost!) everyone in the book is, and how it manages to hold the reader's interest without a lot of conflict.

In that sense, it's a very mature novel: I've always held that the standard creative-writing class advice that fiction is about conflict was a childish approach; arbitrarily pitting two entities with opposing interests against each other is the simplest, most formulaic way to manufacture a story.

(As those who've read my work know, a lot of my novels really don't have villains, or, if a villain does exist, he or she is a minor character; there's no villain in Rollback, for instance, or in my upcoming Wake.)

Clarke and Pohl have taken this to a very advanced degree in The Last Theorem -- oh, there's a little conflict, yes, but it's mostly good-natured -- and the result is uplifting and charming; this is a feel-good SF novel. Enjoy!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At September 13, 2008 11:19 AM , Blogger Anders Brink said...

You're right on the money. Fiction is based on conflict. But the conflict need not be about heroes vs villians. A conflict about opposing interests is just as good.


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