This was read on an online story site. One surviving astronaut returns to Earth where adults were wiped out by immortals who stopped aging before puberty. They are purposeless and hedonistic. The astronaut has a really hard time fitting in.

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This sounds like a portion of Larry Niven's A World Out of Time possibly the section called "Children of the State."

This novel features Corbell returning to Earth after 3 million years to find Earth ruled by Boys and Girls - immortal children who rule over the few remaining adults.

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She explains that the human species has fragmented; it is dominated by a race of immortal, permanently pre-adolescent males (the Boys), who are created by advanced medical techniques. Some time in the past, they had defeated the equally immortal (though now extinct) Girls, in the ultimate war of the sexes. The Boys have enslaved the dikta, who are unmodified humans (though they have evolved somewhat), from whom they take boys to replenish their ranks.


This could be from Joe Haldeman's Forever War series. Made up of the eponymous Forever War and the sequels Forever Peace and Forever Free. These are novels, so not particularly short and this event would take place in one of the later two novels.

In this series, the main character is recruited as a soldier to fight an alien race known as the "Taurans". To do so, the soldiers have to take relativistic flight through portals to end up in other solar systems in the attempt to preemptively strike at the Taurans before they can strike Earth.

Because of the relativistic flight, when they return to Earth a lot of time has passed in each instance (tens to hundreds of years IIRC), with the soldiers now feeling they are strangers on Earth and most of them re-enlisting for more flights to escape the feeling of being out of place. After several such flights, the main character returns to Earth to find only immortal people, who all appear the same and have a shared mind.

I don't believe that the immortal people have a hedonistic attitude or that they stop aging before puberty - I think they are now sexless and may not even go through puberty; being replaced by cloning (??).

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    After the Forever War, traditional baby-making is unusual; but that is not enough similarity for me. Commented Mar 16 at 23:36

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