Science fiction story ending with "...waiting for the light that had always come back"
February 9, 2007 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Please help me remember a science fiction short story ending with "...waiting for the light that had always come back"

I'm trying to remember the title and author of a haunting science fiction short story I had read 20 years ago or so. In it, scientists discover that the whole universe is shrinking, and will soon shrink to a size less than the wavelength of visible light. The upshot of this is that all light will imminently disappear, for ever. Towards the end of the story people notice colours gradually disappearing, first red, until eventually everything is a dark blue, then utterly black. People stagger about, or wait hopelessly for the light that had always returned.

It's a bit reminiscent of Niven's Inconstant Moon, but if anything more apocalyptic and without its trace of optimism. I've tried googling, and looking on this page (through which I've rediscovered several stories in the past,) to no avail.
posted by snarfois to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have nothing in suggestions to add to this answer, but the storyline and prose suggest Harlan Ellison to me. I can't tell you why.
posted by thanotopsis at 11:10 AM on February 9, 2007

I thought for a sec it might be Asimov's "Nightfall" (which I haven't read in about 30 years), but google tells me no.

I bet, however, someone in rec.arts.sf.written could ID this. Their term for this sort of request is YASID ("yet another story ID"). Good luck.
posted by aught at 11:35 AM on February 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm going to be no help here, but I'm pretty sure I've read this one as well, in an old story anthology. It was a nice idea.
posted by adrianhon at 11:51 AM on February 9, 2007

Was it The Xi Effect by Phillip Latham? Phillip Latham was the pen name of Robert Shirley Richardson, who was an astronomer.
posted by iconomy at 11:59 AM on February 9, 2007

Best answer: This quote: "The universe contracts to virtually nothing, and color, light, and finally life vanish (Mr. Philip Latham's The Xi Effect)" and this quote would indicate that it is The Xi Effect.
posted by iconomy at 12:08 PM on February 9, 2007

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