Home > Reading > On reading: The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

On reading: The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

A while back, I was talking with my son, Jonathan, who lives in Wisconsin. He happened to mention one of Isaac Asimov’s short stories and said I absolutely had to read it (I’ll confess now that, despite being a sci-fi fan, I’d never read any of his work before … yes, that’s lame, I admit it). Given his glowing recommendation, I decided I should read the story. So I did. My thoughts? Well, I’m going to keep them to myself until after I hear from a few people. I don’t want my opinion of the story to influence what others might have to say.

To those who have read the story, what did you think about it? For those who’ve never read it before and are now curious enough to read it, let me encourage you to read the piece all in one sitting. It’s not that hard to do since it’s a short story, and it does, as my son suggested, make the story all that much more powerful.

To encourage you to read the story, here are a few introductory words penned by the author himself:

This is by far my favorite story of all those I have written.

After all, I undertook to tell several trillion years of human history in the space of a short story and I leave it to you as to how well I succeeded. I also undertook another task, but I won’t tell you what that was lest l spoil the story for you.

It is a curious fact that innumerable readers have asked me if I wrote this story. They seem never to remember the title of the story or (for sure) the author, except for the vague thought it might be me. But, of course, they never forget the story itself especially the ending. The idea seems to drown out everything — and I’m satisfied that it should.

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov


  1. May 21, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Is this the story about the stars and entropy?

    • May 22, 2014 at 9:11 pm

      Yep. That’s the one, Jeff.

  2. May 21, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    This is the story that introduced me to Asimov, my now favorite writer, and got me interested in humanism. A great piece.

  3. Jenn
    May 31, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    [sound of glass shattering in my mind space]

  4. July 15, 2014 at 7:31 am

    I hadn’t read this short story before, so thanks for bringing it to my attention! (I’m a relatively recent fan of Asimov, having been introduced to his Foundation series a few years ago.)

    Knowing what I know of him as a writer, I’m not at all surprised by the direction the story took, and in fact as it progressed I kind of guessed he might take it there. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

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