Looking for a short story about a future time when all people live in perpetual adolescence, except for one boy who ages into maturity. The final line of the story is something like “for you are a goddess and I am a man.”

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Where and when did you read this? You're sure the other were adolescent and not pre-pubescent?
    – DavidW
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 2:08
  • Not certain — and I’m not the reader. (The reader was actually David Brin, who asked if anyone recalled this. He said he thought it might have been an old Silverberg story but none rings a bell to me. As for the adolescence/pre-pubescent question, not sure. But that clue probably tells you something about the age of the story. The final line is the one that David Brin is reasonably sure of. Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 3:00
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    Ah, well then it's not Niven; Brin would definitely have been able to place that one.
    – DavidW
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 3:26
  • There's a similar story in which you think it a dying parent (or grandparent) being tended to by youngsters when it's a dying offspring being tended to by his eternally young parents. Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 15:30
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    If David Moews' answer is correct, you should mark it as such by clicking the green tick mark next to his answer. There's no need to manually add "SOLVED" to the question title - that tick mark is all you need to indicate to people that you've found your answer.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 13:06

2 Answers 2


This is a partial match for the 1957 story "The Dying Man" (also called "Dio"), by Damon Knight; you can read it on-line at Baen Books. Dio is the name of the character who ages and matures; he also eventually dies. To quote from the story:

"Maturity in every complex organism is the first stage of death. We never mature, Claire, and that's why we don't die. We're the eternal adolescents of the universe. That's the price we paid."
"The price . . ." she echoes. "But I still don't see." She laughs. "Not mature—" Unconsciously she holds herself straighter, shoulders back, chin up.
Benarra leans casually against the desk, looking down at her. "Have you ever thought to wonder why there are so few children? In the old days, loving without any precautions, a grown woman would have a child a year. Now it happens perhaps once in a hundred billion meetings. It's an anomaly, a freak of nature, and even then the woman can't carry the child to term herself. Oh, we look mature; that's the joke—they gave us the shape of their own dreams of adult power." He fingers his glossy beard, thumps his chest. "It isn't real. We're all pretending to be grown-up, but not one of us knows what it's really like."
A silence falls.
"Except Dio?" says Claire, looking down at her hands.
"He's on the way to find out. Yes."

Later, although not in the final line, Dio says:

"It wouldn't do, Claire. Dear, I love you for it, but you see . . . you see, you're a goddess. An immortal goddess—and I'm a man."

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    A story that I understand better each time I re-read it a decade later. It captures the ridiculousness of youth where aging is something that only happens to other people along with the growing sense of loss and futility that perceptible aging brings.
    – user90961
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 17:15

The Star Trek (TOS) episode of "Miri. Miri" is close to that. It has a planet where some biological experiment went awry and killed all the adults while slowing the aging of the kids.

When the kids eventually become adults, they die.

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    I don't see how this is a match. It's not a short story, slowed aging is not perpetual adolescence, and everybody reaches maturity, they just immediately die. And there's no line about a goddess.
    – DavidW
    Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 1:12
  • Not a match this is ‘close’; I appreciate the context
    – J-Dizzle
    Commented Sep 29, 2022 at 9:53

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