Trying to identify a short story (possibly read in Asimov's SF magazine) from the late 70s. A man - possibly a professor or scientist - is working or somehow involved with a young man and young woman. I think they have some interest in either time travel or the properties of time. The professor/scientist has a device or capability that allows him to see the couple's past/present/future - basically their entire lives) at the same time.

  • The Machine of Death and This Is How You Die anthologies explore a similar theme, if you're interested.
    – Joe L.
    Oct 16, 2016 at 21:58
  • OP appears to have left confirmation comment (from unmerged account) to answer below.
    – Otis
    Feb 10, 2018 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


This might be the short story "Life-Line", by Heinlein.

Publishing Details

The story was published in Astounding Science-Fiction in 1939 and was in fact Heinlein's first published story.

Going by the ISFDB, it was never published in Asimov's, but it has been included in the 1979 collection, The Great Science Fiction Stories Volume 1, 1939, which was edited by Asimov and Greenberg, which was prominently displayed on the cover.


Professor Pinero has built a machine that can predict how long a person will live.

A young couple comes to him for a consult and he discovers they only have an hour or so left to live. Without telling them, faking a malfunction of his device instead, he tries to stall them, trying in vain to change their destiny. As the leave the building, they're hit by a car.

Life insurance companies see their profits dwindle, since people know when they will die. They sue him but lose, so they resort to more drastic measures to stop him. As it turns out, as part of an experiment to prove his machine, Pinero has predicted his own death correctly.

See WikiPedia and the ISFDB.

  • Life Line - That's it! My description was off as my memory of it is so vague. Thanks so much!!
    – user72954
    Oct 17, 2016 at 15:09
  • @user72954 If you’re the one who asked this question, and you accidentally created another account, you can merge the two by following the instructions here.
    – Adamant
    Oct 18, 2016 at 0:21
  • @elizabeth If this is indeed the story you were looking for, you can accept the answer as correct by clicking the check mark next to it. This will enable other users to see it was indeed correct, and award me with a bit of the currency of Stack Exchange, reputation points.
    – SQB
    Nov 3, 2016 at 6:43

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