Dalrymple's Equation

Paul Fairman | published Jun, 1956

added Jun 19, 2024
cover Image
First Date of Publication
Jun, 1956
Original Source
Original Source Type
Magazine - Pulp
Short Story
Original Language
Kasman Review
Summary: An alien helps local police detectives solve a baffling murder case…

Story Tag Line: “You meet a lot of screwy people when you do police work. Like the guy who popped up in a murder job. Offered to solve the case with…. Dalrymple’s Equation”

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  • Vijay Fafat
    Published on

    A tall tale about an alien “from Arva Majoris […] a planet in a galaxy beyond the conception of [humanity’s] most brilliant minds.” . He’s taken on the name, “Tennyson Dalrymple” and uses his alien mathematics to help 2 police detectives solve the mystery of a death at a local bar. To quote the relevant sequences:

    “Dalrymple split a sneer between us. “It’s nothing but a mathematical problem. In the world I come from, students corresponding to your first-graders are started out on far harder equations.”\ “So you can just take a pencil and figure it out, eh?”
    “As every school child on my planet knows, each of these facts must be given a symbol and must become a part of our exploratory equation.”
    There is no such thing as chance in a civilization or a culture which is properly based upon mathematics. In such a civilization lies and evasions are unheard of because all action and motivation past, present, or future, can be evaluated and revealed in complete exactitude.”\


    Dalrymple had the pencil racing over the paper, laying out a series of weird symbols the like of which I had never seen. They were neither numbers nor letters; nor the kind of geometric or algebra symbols used on earth either. Of that I was sure. The closest I can come is to compare them to Egyptian heiroglyphics and yet that’s far from the mark. But whatever they were, Dalrymple seemed to know exactly what he was doing.
    “There - the exploratory equation is complete. Now we search it for flaws. […] The flaws in this equation stand out by themselves. For instance, our zong is implicated -but must obviously be supplemented in order to balance the terz shading of the exploratory equation.” ”

    Dalrymple later deploys his powerful mathematics to steal a sufficient amount of money to stay on earth comfortably as he explores the local culture.