“It’s amazing when you think of it,” said Adell. His broad face had lines of weariness in it, and he stirred his drink slowly with a glass rod, watching the cubes of ice slur clumsily about. “All the energy we can possibly ever use for free. Enough energy, if we wanted to draw on it, to melt all Earth into a big drop of impure liquid iron, and still never miss the energy so used. All the energy we could ever use, forever and forever and forever.”
The Last Question by Isaac Asimov © 1956
I’ve always loved this piece. I think it’s my favourite of Asimov’s short sci-fi stories. That ending is unsurpassable in elegance.
It’s just too bad that some of the voice parts in that recording with Nimoy are inaudibly muffled.
Five decades ago(?) this story turned me on to SF. Thanks, Isaac. Shortly after it was “The nine billion names of God.” Thanks, Arthur. The best SF ending ever: “one by one the stars were going out.”
I love this story, but I like “The Machine that Won the War” even more. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Machine_That_Won_the_War_(short_story)
Being exposed to The Last Question can kind of wreck you. As a very young person, I saw a performance of this in the Hayden Planetarium (which is about the most mind-blowing-est way to experience this short story). Needless to say, after this first exposure, all I could do was try to seek out these types of stories-- but there just aren’t that many!
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