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Greg Egan's Diaspora. At the end of the book, after Paolo and Yatima traveled up 267,904,176,383,054 levels of universes, where there were no more gateways to go through another level:

Paolo’s gestalt seemed to hover between comic agony over the failure of their search, and sheer exaltation at its completion.

Where were the Transmuters? Did P & Y succeed in their search or not? If the Transmuters were not there, what does it mean to say:

Paolo closed his eyes, and followed the Transmuters.

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The Transmuters were gone - they had explored, experienced and analyzed the multiverse to their complete satisfaction and then allowed themselves to die:

"What now? Where do we look for them?"

[...] He said, "We look right in front of us."

"There's nothing in front of us."

"Not now. Because it's over. We've seen it all."

"I don't understand."

[...] "The artifacts were polises. [...]

"Then why did they stop?"

"Because there was nothing more to do." [...] "They'd seen everything they wanted to see in the outside world

And Paolo does the same - he basically commits suicide, except he instead sees it as achieving completion because he's done all he wanted to do:

"It won't be death." Paolo seemed calm now, perfectly resolved. "The Transmuters didn't die; they played out every possibility within themselves. And I believe I've done the same, back in U-double-star… or maybe I'm still doing it, somewhere. But I've found what I came to find, here. There's nothing more for me. That's not death. It's completion."

Basically, it's a transhumanist version of this (source):

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  • Thank you. Can you or somebody help me put a Greg Egan or Diaspora tag on this question? My reputation is too low to create new tags. – Eric Feb 11 '16 at 2:32

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