There's a short story I am trying to remember that appeared in a science fiction/fantasy collection. I can't think of the title or the author.

Basically, the universe has come to an end of nothingness due to the cumulative effect of evil, hate, violence, etc. which has destroyed everything including god. All that is left is the Devil (Satan) who is all alone. He/It thinks on this for a long while, until finally sees what must be done. He then speaks "Let there be light."

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Where and when did you read this? Was it in a magazine, an anthology or online?
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 26 at 20:16
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    There was a heat death of the universe, computer thinking about stuff, short story, by Asimov that has the same ending (but the computer, not Satan). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Question Heck...maybe there is a genre of "ends with let there be light"...sort of like the complaint that too many people were having short stories where we learn that the man and women are Adam and Eve. Commented Jun 26 at 21:39
  • @guesttrollagain: This is known as a Shaggy God Story. It encompasses both clichés.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jun 27 at 7:59
  • I read this years ago. It was likely in a collection of short stories, and even more likely, buried in a bin of book sin my garage. I'll see if I can locate it at some point. And, yes I do remember the Asimov story "The Last question." One of my faves. Commented Jun 27 at 22:05

1 Answer 1


This is a long shot. Thousands of years in the future, it's suddenly "game over" for the universe, which vanishes into nothingness, except for one eternal being, who eventually says "let there be light" and starts a new game. But there is no Satan, at least by that name; and the universe comes to an end, not because of hate and violence, but because peace has been achieved.

"The Sea's Furthest End", a novelette by Damien Broderick, first published in the anthology New Writings in S-F 1 (John Carnell, ed.), available at the Internet Archive. Does any of these covers ring a bell?

The cosmic game:

Once, the universe must have been young, an emptiness filled with fiery gases and slowly-spinning new-born suns. And even then, the Player must have been preparing the Board for his game.

Milenn first saw the light of day on a smoking, roaring world of shaggy beast-men and thudding hairy animals. It was a world on the Rim of the Galaxy, with a feeble yellow star and a single pock-marked moon.

It was the cmly world that ever produced sentient life, and its children were destined to seed the Galaxy.

For the Game. For the Player’s inscrutable purpose.

[. . . .]

He was Gilgamesh, Odin, Ra, Indra, Zeus, Tonactechtli, Moses, Gandhi, Hammarskjold, Holden-Smith, Porter, and Andreas. In the mud of the Nile he trod water and straw; his statue was carried before the tallow candles in Tenochtitlan; he advised the Great One in Tibet while the wind whistled through his thin bones; he thundered in the Terran Planetary Parliament; he laboured on alien worlds, muscles twisting to hammer wood and steel into homes for his fellows. And everywhere, he remembered. Peace was his goal, for no man can go through a million years’ odyssey without learning compassion and humanity.

The game is over:

Literally. Milenn came to his feet, and the terror was black on him again. In numb horror he saw the walls of the Council Hall fold in like a freckled banana, and the roof gaped wide as the whole planet seemed to peel open. Around him, the other figures of the Game screamed and ran amok, tearing, howling like animals. The noise somehow faded away, and the ruined planet bubbled with spurting boiling magma that ran around Milenn but could not touch him. He realized that he was screaming too, for the stars were whirling in a mad kaleidoscope of light and they were falling on him, globes of roaring fire, tiny marbles of cold luminescence, a spraying spiral of light. He was huge beyond belief, the pinpoints of light were stars, galaxies, and the universe was fading, eddying, insubstantial, and he was screaming at the Player why, why, why. . . ?

Setting up the board for a new game:

Alone. Darkness, bodiless, infinite. All the questions answered and the tears wept. The Immortal wondered at the memory, and knew the reason. There was no Player. There was only himself, alone, eternally lonely. Infinity is a quiet place, eternity a lonely time. The Immortal remembered himself as Milenn, and forever the memory satisfied him. But forever is a short while, and memory is no cure for loneliness. Only participation, and forgetfulness.

The Tasks had been a good idea, but they had ended. The problem he had set himself: a universe, a race of naturally belligerent sapients, a goal of peace, freely accepted by them. And three times he had succeeded. Planetary government, Galactic empire. Galactic Federation. Himself eternal, not knowing the reason, only aware of the compulsion.

An Immortal Child grows lonely in the dark of eternity, and he knew that there was forgetfulness in the Game. So again in the deep of himself he uttered the Words.

"Let there be light!"

And, yet again, there was light.

  • Thanks. This is somewhat similar. The crux of the story I am trying to remember is that at the end of the universe, "evil" has won out over "good" due to the trillions of minor "sins" committed by all being which far outweigh the good. This is why Satan/The Devil/Lucifer is the only being left. And after pondering this for eons finally gets things going again by saying "let there be light." Commented Jun 27 at 22:31
  • Another partial match: "The Day After Judgment" originally a 63-page "complete novel" in Galaxy, sequel to "Faust Aleph-null" part 1 part 2 expanded to the novel Black Easter. As "these days nearly everyone is damned" Satan defeats God, but finds himself forced to become good and take over God's job. However
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 28 at 0:06
  • . .. the sidereal universe does not vanish, and the words "let there be light" are not uttered, so this isn't your story either.
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 28 at 0:07

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