Story Time Reviews “The Last Question”

If you like stories with a twist ending, you’ll like Isaac Asimov’s “The Last Question.” Asimov’s short story first appeared in the November 1956 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly. The recording is 36:34 minutes in duration and the story is narrated by Leonard Nimoy The Story The story begins with, “The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light.” Two of Multivac’s attendants make a five-dollar bet over highballs. Multivac was a giant, self-adjusting and self-correcting computer. The men “fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued.” The computer had, for decades, designed the ships and plotted the trajectories that allowed Man to reach Mars and Venus. But Earth didn’t have enough resources to create the power needed for such trips. Multivac devised a way to use the sun and “all Earth ran by invisible beams of sunpower.” After seven days of public functions, Multivac’s attendants take a moment of peace with the bottle and the computer. One man expresses his delight that the Earth has free power forever. The second man argues that it’s won’t be […]

A Surprise Written in Mud

I received a free copy of the January/February 2019 copy of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine from my friend and mentor, Bill Wu. He autographed his story in this issue, personalized for me. It was a surprise “Written in Mud” on two levels. If you have a chance, grab a copy. This Tall Tale is worth it. “Written in Mud” is the story of four friends who try to figure out how they are going to survive after fraking for shale oil in Oklahoma caused massive earthquakes along the Humboldt fault in Kansas and the New Madris fault in Missouri. The friends are on what used to be a farm belonging to one of them. It is now the shores of Kansas. These four friends try to find a new occupation. They make a trip upriver and discover that the answer to their dilemma was…well, you’ll have to read it. Not only did Bill not give me any warning that he sent this to me, he didn’t tell me the story existed. It’s arrival was a Christmas surprise gifted to me without any expectations or obligations. This story is especially delightful to me because it contains a lot of nuggets or […]