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I remember that in one of the DVD commentaries on Futurama, the crew make reference to drawing inspiration from a story that goes something like this:

A man with a high-powered telescope observes an alien woman on a distant planet and falls in love with her. Eventually, he realises that due to the time it takes light to travel from the planet to Earth, everything he's seen will have taken place millions of years in the past and that the woman is surely long dead.

I've always thought that this idea is a beautiful way of thinking of the way we observe the universe, but I can't for the life of me remember what the story was called, and I don't have access to the Futurama DVDs any more.

Is anyone familiar with this story?

  • What a depressing idea! – user001 Feb 18 '16 at 15:26
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    Clearly NOT a correct answer because of what accepted answer says, but "Andromeda Nebula" (soviet SciFi novel by Yefremov) has a very similar subplot, except the astronomer falls in love with an alien woman whose image was transmitted through a dedicated galactic communications network, not a telescope. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jul 10 '16 at 13:35
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    @DVK-in-exile Sounds interesting! I can't say I've read much soviet SciFi, so I'll definitely add it to my list. – BiscuitBaker Jul 11 '16 at 8:08
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I did a little googling, apparently it was on the episode "Time Keeps on Slippin'", and the wiki page for that ep says it was inspired by 'the story "Strange Romance" from the book Y. Cheung, Business Detective by Harry Stephen Keeler'. Also, it seems from p. 10 of Strands of the Web: The Short Stories of Harry Stephen Keeler that "Strange Romance" was an expanded version of an earlier story he had written called "A Telescopic Romance". The pages that people can read on google books may vary by region, but I could see the entirety of that story starting on p. 15 of the google books preview.

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