I read a while ago a science fiction story about becoming immortal.

The story starts with a couple on a generation ship, when they receive a message from Earth about a cure for mortality. The wife and son then choose the cure while the husband and daughter don't.

The story then goes from there to progressively describing the evolution of the wife and son. They first become robots, then energy beings.

Other details of the story include the wife rejecting the son when he becomes a robot, the wife watching a black hole for a few million years, etc.

The ending of the story has the wife create some new intelligent life on an alien planet. I had thought that Ted Chiang wrote this story but apparently not.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. When did you read this? ("A while ago" is pretty vague.) How long was it (thick novel, thin novel, short story)? Was it a physical book or an e-book? Do you recall the cover art?
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


This is The Waves by Ken Liu, collected in The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. The story was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novelette in 2013 but did not win.

It is told in a slightly fable, dream like way. The main character is Maggie Chao, on a solar sail powered ship travelling between stars. As you say, when a message is sent from Earth telling them how to make themselves immortal she decides to take it but her husband, Joao does not.

They have ethical dilemmas about their children. If everyone is immortal they cannot have children - there is no room. Some (son Bobby) decide never to grow up. She lives on and interacts with her descendants.

Eventually she becomes some kind of energy being spending time gazing at a black hole, and tweaking the creation of life.

I think this must be the story you are looking for.

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