MARCUS DU SAUTOY

THE MATHS PRO­FES­SOR AND TV PRE­SEN­TER SUMS UP HIS GENRE FAVES

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert - Marcus du Sautoy is speak­ing at the Lon­don Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val on 16 Oc­to­ber (www.south­bank­cen­tre.co.uk). His book What We Can­not Know is out now from 4th Es­tate.

Favourite SF/fan­tasy film

There are a few SF movies that use maths. How’s an alien cul­ture go­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with hu­mans? I think it’s math­e­mat­ics which would be the com­mon lan­guage. So one of the movies I’ve re­ally loved is Con­tact. You have El­lie Ar­roway at SETI lis­ten­ing to white noise, then sud­denly these prime num­bers start com­ing through – that’s the be­gin­ning of the re­al­i­sa­tion that there must be an in­tel­li­gent cul­ture out there.

Favourite SF/fan­tasy TV

I was a big fan of Thun­der­birds. And I am, along with the rest of the world, a big Game Of Thrones fan. There’s also Black Mir­ror – that can be re­ally rel­e­vant to un­der­stand­ing the power of the tech­nol­ogy we’re cre­at­ing and where it might take us.

Favourite SF/fan­tasy books

The book I chose on Desert Is­land Discs has been very sig­nif­i­cant for me – Her­mann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game. It’s about a fu­tur­is­tic game where play­ers try and fuse to­gether the ideas of math­e­mat­ics, phi­los­o­phy, mu­sic, art, science, his­tory… I think in a sense I’ve been try­ing to play the glass bead game, to find a way to con­nect math­e­mat­ics with other dis­ci­plines.

Favourite SF/fan­tasy games

I did a bit of Dun­geons & Dragons as a kid. I like that el­e­ment of strategy, be­cause that’s very much like be­ing a math­e­ma­ti­cian look­ing many steps ahead.

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