I remember a short story where talented teens had to choose between extended long life or a normal life span. They had to choose before a certain age and the procedure, once started, could not be reversed. The story was about a teen boy and teen girl, both music prodigies, who had to make the choice. The girl chose long life but the boy decided to turn it down, thus making his music immortal instead.

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    I don't believe it is what you are looking for, but Orsen Scott Card's Songmaster matches a few points and may be in a similar vein. The Wikipedia page notes its relationship with a short story "Mikal's Songbird". Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 0:55
  • I think I remember this. They were on a space station of sorts, no? The choice was all the more meaningful because immortals lost their talent to "create", so this system of choice for prodigies was in place to prevent the stagnation of the race. I think. I'll dig up my books in a day or two.
    – SáT
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 1:32
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    Yeah, I do remember this. They started off on a spaceship when they were really young kids, just separated from their parents because they were prodigies. Then they were transported to this school area, where only mortals lived and taught them - there was this old female teacher, a musician, who wrote a magnificient symphony which they performed. The girl witnessed the old woman dying, which made her choose immortality. It was all very poignant, primarily dialogue-driven. I read it in Hungarian, in a later Galaktika, so it was definitely written before 1985. I'll try to dig up that issue.
    – SáT
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 2:17

1 Answer 1


I think this is one of Sharon Webb's stories, later a book series.

Series: Earthchild

When all the people of Earth become immortal through the Mouat-Gari process, Kurt Kraus, minister of World Culture, realizes that all creativity has died, and he must find a way to restore it.

"Earthchild Rising" may be the story (IASFM July 1981) or "Variation on a Theme from Beethoven".

Magazine cover Magazine cover

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    Yes! The one I was thinking of is Variation On A Theme From Beethoven, I'm pretty sure this is what Morgus is looking for too. It's a mighty fine short story. I'm surprised and glad to hear there's more of it :)
    – SáT
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 5:10
  • You're correct. I just reread "Earthchild Rising"; that's the one in which Kurt learns of his immortality.
    – Frock
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 8:20

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