This is a short story, which I'm pretty sure I read online. The narrator was sentenced to life in prison, but after sentencing, some sort of nanotechnology was released, infecting everyone and making them immortal.

The narrator (male) is now hundreds (thousands?) of years into a life sentence, and feels like he has been forgotten by the rest of the world.

Note: I saw this similar question, but neither of the stories proposed on Looking for a short story about a society where when you are sentenced to life in prison, you are kept alive in prison forever is what I am looking for.

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    +1 for having done your research and looked for possible duplicate questions here on this site.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Aug 24, 2016 at 0:09
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    You don't recall whether the prisoner was male or female? Do you recall what he/she was in for? murder, treason, forgery, jaywalking?
    – user14111
    Aug 24, 2016 at 0:11
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    Dunno what it is, but the writer shows a lack of research as a "life sentence" is a quantified number in reality and they'd be released in after some number of 120 or less years. (I don't remember the exact number it's between like 80 to 120 from what i remember)... Not important but just commenting...
    – Durakken
    Aug 24, 2016 at 0:30
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    @Durakken - I suspect a “life sentence” could easily mean something different in a future society. Beside, seems that it depends on the state.
    – Adamant
    Aug 24, 2016 at 2:36
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    The Twilight Zone episode described in previous comments is "Escape Clause", Season 1 Episode 6, originally aired 1959-11-06.
    – Eric Smith
    Aug 25, 2016 at 7:41

2 Answers 2


The story you describe sounds similar to Habeas Corpus Callosum by Jay Werkheiser, published in the November 2014 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

A murderer sentenced to life in prison might win a reprieve. Since his conviction, life extension procedures have made humans essentially immortal. Therefore, his life sentence is now effectively either an infinite incarceration (if he's given the treatment) or a death sentence (if the treatment is denied), neither of which are in the spirit of his original sentence.

In this story, I don't think the prisoner is actually hundreds or thousands of years old, so you may be thinking of a another story.

As of now (January 2020) the story is available online at SciPhiJournal.


I seem to remember a Spider Robinson story, maybe in Melancholy Elephants or Antinomy but I don't have them handy to check, that could be what you meant.

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