Looking for a short story published in Analog magazine in the mid to late 80s.

It was a play on the Twin Paradox idea.

In this case twin brothers are separated, one traveling at relativistic velocity, while the other stayed on Earth. He left believing many of his friends/family would be dead or extensively aged.

Twist is while he was traveling alien contact occurred and gifted humanity immortality and eternal youth, but the process has to be started before a certain age. The brother who was traveling had aged past the process and becomes the last human on earth to die of old age.

I always thought this was a clever twist. Can anyone help me with the answer to this question?

  • Robert Forward has a story called "Twin Paradox" - it could be this one.
    – Andrew
    Oct 2, 2022 at 19:52
  • 1
    @Andrew Yes, as soon as I read the question I knew it was Forward's story. Oct 2, 2022 at 21:23
  • Great! I must have read it but all I could bring to mind was that "Twin Paradox" would be a great title for such a story and the Forward was the only such story listed in ISFDB
    – Andrew
    Oct 2, 2022 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


I think this is almost certainly Twin Paradox, a short story by Robert Forward, first published in Analog in August 1983 and later republished in Forward's collection of short stories and essays, Indistinguishable from Magic. This collection is available from the Internet Archive.

The story concerns two identical twins, Able and Alan. Due to an accident involving a toy rocket when they were children, Able is disfigured, but Alan is chosen to crew the "Bright Star" - a ship powered by antimatter that can achieve close to lightspeed. Signals of intelligent life have been picked up from Arcturus, and Alan pilots the Bright Star there and duly makes contact with the aliens. The Arcturians send Alan back to Earth with an ambassador/missionary, and to his horror Alan finds Able, now cured of his deformities, and appearing to be olny about 25 years old, while Alan is over a hundred.

“Within one year after you left, the scientists studying the Arcturian biology channel stumbled onto the secret of the mechanism that the aliens use to prevent themselves from dying. Think about it. Only a civilization in which everyone lived forever could operate an interstellar commerce system based on spacecraft limited to speeds less than the speed of light.”

Well,” he said. “The joke’s on me. I went away _ expecting to come back younger than my twin, but Einstein was outfoxed by the medics.

The anti-aging treatment is only effective if administered before the age of 35, so he has no option except to grow old.

The doctors did their best, and Alan stayed alive and healthy for another eighty-four years. He died as he had hoped, of a cerebral aneurysm in the arms of a nubile-looking centenarian that was jaded with making love to youngsters. Alan’s age was 190 calendar and — 128 Einstein-adjusted when he died.

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