What was that science fiction short story?
May 7, 2013 8:46 PM   Subscribe

I remember reading a short story about a futuristic treatment which causes long-life (1000 years?). In the story, a young couple gets the treatment, and we follow their lives up through old age. The only particular I remember has the couple bored with nothing else to learn or experience, and they sit, playing million piece all-white jigsaw puzzles to pass the time.

Unfortunately, Googling variations of "million piece all white jigsaw" doesn't seem to bring up anything. Do you know this story?
posted by klausman to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Was it "The Time Beyond Age" by Robert Holdstock? That story is about a boy and a girl subjected to the treatment, told from the perspective of the scientist who observes the experiment.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:24 AM on May 8, 2013

Could it be "Outnumbering the Dead" by Frederick Pohl?
posted by jbickers at 6:07 AM on May 8, 2013

I don't think this will be it unless you are misremembering the story somewhat, but one of the threads in Iain Banks's Walking On Glass features two prisoners, male and female, whose "punishment" includes being compelled to solve strange extended versions of games in order to get chances to answer a gnomic riddle correctly. I recall that one was "one dimensional chess"; I think they also tackled "open-plan Go" and "Spotless Dominoes". Could you be thinking of that?
posted by Decani at 11:52 PM on May 8, 2013

Response by poster: Thinking about this has stirred up a few other memories of the story. The "treatment" was definitely optional, and one of the characters learns about it and convinces the other that they should get the treatment together. So, it doesn't sound like any of these suggestions yet (though I want to check out Walking On Glass or Outnumbering The Dead). In the story, there was also discussion about the need to expand the brain's memory capacity for those of long age. That's about all I've got.

Now, I might have said that this was about 25 years ago. It is very possible that the story was part of a reading assignment from school, but I don't think it was out of a textbook. It was definitely a short story (because I would not have enjoyed reading it at that age if it wasn't), but it could have been anywhere from 2 to 20 pages. I don't even remember if it was very good, but I often think about the end, where the couple resorts to mundane-but-impossible activities. I think this story is the reason I don't enjoy assembling puzzles.

Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by klausman at 6:02 AM on May 9, 2013

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