I'm trying to identify a short story which I recall reading many years ago.

A series (i think) progressing into the future, similar to Harry Harrisons "One step from earth" but details the progress of a computer type device over millennia. The story I recall ends with the "computer" after many calculations works out how to reverse entropy and ends with a Biblical quote.

  • 1
    Are these stories in the same collection? If not, you should really ask two separate questions – Jason Baker Sep 10 '15 at 22:00
  • If you have two questions, please ask two questions. – Valorum Sep 10 '15 at 22:31
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    The other story is Aurthur C. Clarke's Armaments Race. – Joe L. Sep 11 '15 at 1:02
  • Joe L. From the anthology 'Tales of the White Hart'. – Jayessell Sep 11 '15 at 11:07
  • Brings to mind another book "Diaspora" by Greg Egan with intelligences that are almost virtual and nebulous descendants of stored human machine intelligences that ends in self realisation that none of it matters in the end. - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaspora_(novel) – KalleMP Apr 11 '17 at 13:35

The story about the computer that "works out how to reverse entropy and ends with a Biblical quote" is Isaac Asimov's short story "The Last Question", part of his Multivac series, which was also the answer to the question Let There Be Light Story Identification. First published in Science Fiction Quarterly, November 1956, it's available at the Internet Archive. From the Wikipedia plot summary of "The Last Question":

The story deals with the development of universe-scale computers called Multivacs and their relationships with humanity through the courses of seven historic settings, beginning in 2061. In each of the first six scenes a different character presents the computer with the same question; namely, how the threat to human existence posed by the heat death of the universe can be averted. The question was: "How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?" This is equivalent to asking: "Can the workings of the second law of thermodynamics (used in the story as the increase of the entropy of the universe) be reversed?" Multivac's only response after much "thinking" is: "INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER."

The story jumps forward in time into later eras of human and scientific development. In each of these eras someone decides to ask the ultimate "last question" regarding the reversal and decrease of entropy. Each time, in each new era, Multivac's descendant is asked this question, and finds itself unable to solve the problem. Each time all it can answer is an (increasingly sophisticated, linguistically): "THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."

In the last scene, the god-like descendant of humanity (the unified mental process of over a trillion, trillion, trillion humans that have spread throughout the universe) watches the stars flicker out, one by one, as matter and energy ends, and with it, space and time. Humanity asks AC, Multivac's ultimate descendant, which exists in hyperspace beyond the bounds of gravity or time, the entropy question one last time, before the last of humanity merges with AC and disappears. AC is still unable to answer, but continues to ponder the question even after space and time cease to exist. Eventually AC discovers the answer, but has nobody to report it to; the universe is already dead. It therefore decides to answer by demonstration. The story ends with AC's pronouncement,

The story ends with a quote from Genesis:

And AC said: "LET THERE BE LIGHT!" And there was light—

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