Bookfilter: Name that sci-fi story.
November 16, 2008 6:28 AM   Subscribe

Bookfilter: I am trying to remember a story. It is either a short story, or the epilogue of a book. I am 90% certain it was written by Isaac Asimov.

Here is the key plot element I remember: The tale posits that the ultimate evolution of the universe is a robot, and the story ends by the robot simultaneously disabling itself while also basically restarting the big bang for the next oscillation of the universe. It's sort of a story about what Asimov thinks it would be like to be the the thing that /is/ the twist in the mobius strip.

Help me remember what it was, or what short story collection it was in!!

posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker to Writing & Language (9 answers total)
Best answer: The Last Question
posted by jrishel at 6:51 AM on November 16, 2008

Best answer: Sounds like The Last Question by Asimov
posted by wavering at 6:51 AM on November 16, 2008

Response by poster: Follow up -- is there a physical collection I can purchase which would contain this work (you got it, this is the one I was thinking of exactly) ? My initial googling turned up naught.
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 6:55 AM on November 16, 2008

It's available in Isaac Asimov: The Complete Stories, Vol. 1 as well as in the anthologies mentioned here and here.
posted by languagehat at 7:04 AM on November 16, 2008

I knew it was going to be The Last Question before I even clicked on the link :-). There's just something about that story that causes people to forget its name, and it's arguably his most memorable short story (verging on a "short-short".)

I remember reading in a foreword that Asimov himself was so used to this that at least once, when someone came up to him and said "there's this story of yours...", he just automatically said "The Last Question", and immediately gained a reputation for psychic powers.

You should be able to find it in just about any "collected stories" paperback. Here's one that's in print and has it.

(Amazon's "Look Inside" feature lets you read the table of contents for many collections like this.)
posted by dansdata at 7:05 AM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster:
:D-<> :D|-<> :D/-<
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 7:12 AM on November 16, 2008

"God's Debris" by Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) is a similar story that you will probably enjoy. It's available for free here.
posted by aheckler at 8:45 AM on November 16, 2008

When looking for where SF/F stories have been published, the Internet Speculative Fiction Database is a good place to look.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:24 PM on November 16, 2008

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