Andrew Martin, a maths professor at Cambridge University solves the Riemann hypothesis; a mathematical puzzle concerning prime numbers that may unlock answers to some of humanity’s biggest questions and assures a great technological improvement for humans. However learning of this on the other side of the universe the Vonnadorians, a more intellectually advanced race, decides humans are too destructive to let them keep their discovery.
The Vonnadorians are logical, mathematical and rational and have no array of emotions clouding their judgments. A single Vonnadorian is dispatched to kill any humans that may have discovered the information and finds itself in the body Andrew Martins (who is now effectively dead having been taken over by the alien Vonnadorian), trying to discover if his family or anyone knows the solution of the Riemann hypothesis. The Vonnadorian shows us a distorted vision of what perfection looks like. The Vonnadorian is able to store a great deal of theoretical knowledge but finds it harder to understand our human unreasoned and illogical norms. To understand us he must become one of us.
The book highlights the hypocrisy and ignorance humans choose rather than reality, although he sees that reality is something we are all subject to (if not more harshly for those who try and forget) “If getting drunk was how people forgot they were mortal, then hangovers were how they remembered.” It is also highlighted in the quote “They can talk about peace being a good thing yet glorify war.” Is this a true definition of humanity?
As a work of fiction, it leaves an eerie message of viewpoint, and what morals are considered “right” or even have any logic. Although we see ourselves as individuals and see our morals as subjective, the book shows us as one species and a fixed definition of what it means to be humans…. at the beginning. Yet it later showcases our diversity and individuality. It gives us perspective of how small we are in comparison to the entire universe. Nevertheless it allows us to see what a big impact we have on each other and potential outer sources (the Vonnadorian).
I won’t give too much away but it’s definitely a great read and an eye-opener to our world.