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A few years ago I read a great online short scifi story about a boy (either in high school or college) who kept wondering what the point of life is. The story then describes how immortality became fact through medical and technological advances and proceeds to follow the boy throughout billions of years until he finally witnesses the end of the universe.

I've searched for hours on the web but can't find the story. If anyone could direct me to it, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Update:

First of all, thanks to all the links and suggestions. I've read some great scifi thanks to you guys! But unfortunately I still haven't found the story I was looking for, though I spent many more hours looking on the web.

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    Well, I found something similar (and awesome), though not the specific story I was looking for. Check out Asimov's The Last Question. I'd still love to find the other story, though! – Phil Apr 17 '13 at 13:19
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    I don't know the story that you are looking for. But I'd like to recommend The Man from Earth which is another story built around an immortality premise. – coleopterist Apr 17 '13 at 14:26
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    The Last Question was the story that immediately sprung to mind when I read this. This also reminded me of two other stories that are somewhat similar. One is one about a society that builds a massive, maybe planet-sized computer, and finally flips its giant switch and asks it, "Is there a God?" It welds the switch shut and says, "There is now." Another one is about a man who travels from planet to planet and finds that they have all had visits from Jesus in their past. He goes from place to place finding more recent appearances until he finally catches up with him. – Joe M May 27 '13 at 23:58
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    I can't comment yet, not enough points, but this reminds me of one of the short stories in the Machine of Death book. – Arammil Jul 6 '13 at 8:31
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    @JoeMajsterski, "There is now" comes from "Answer" by Fredric Brown. It's one of his many classic short-short stories. – sjl Aug 5 '13 at 15:25
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It sounds like "The Days of Solomon Gursky" by Ian MacDonald, found in various sci-fi collections including 'The Furthest Horizon' edited by Gardner Dozois.

The Furthest Horizon book cover

Solomon is a young scientist who perfects an immortality serum and basically lives until the end of the universe and beyond. There's a full (and I can only assume copyright-friendly) copy linked above.

  • Does that start with Solomon and his girlfriend on a biking holiday stripping the gears off his mountain bike? – tardigrade Apr 18 '17 at 16:13
  • @tardigrade - Yes. They go to see someone about creating diamond gears using a 3D printer and nano-machines; "He envisioned the minuscule machines, smaller than viruses, clever knots of atoms, scavenging carbon through the nanofacturer's roots deep in the earth of Redención, passing it up the buckytube conduits to the processor chamber, weaving it into diamond of his own shaping. Alchemy. Diamond gears" – Valorum Apr 18 '17 at 16:15
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If you remember reading it online, rather than in an e-book or published book, it might have been A Future We'd Like To See 1.25: Reel to Real Editing by Stefan Gagne. The short story is about a young man who should have died, but didn't, because of an over-site by Reality, Inc. While he doesn't actually live to see the end of the universe, he does get a spoiler as to how it will turn out:

"The universe explodes."

"Any reason? No massive megadeath weaponry and man's self- destructive behavior being its downfall?"

"No, it just explodes."

"How boring. Well, I'm ready to go, then."

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One possibility is "Judgement Engine" by Greg Bear, which follows a protagonist and his partner through to the last moments of the universe. I can't remember what age the protagonist is when it starts though; I'll check tonight.

It's possible I'm conflating this with another story in the same collection (at least where I read them) - "The Days Of Solomon Gursky", which Valorum has already suggested above.

Once I've checked I'll either expand or delete this answer.

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