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Trying to find a short story. I first read it approximately five years ago. It was part of a short story collection from various authors. I can only guess at the original published date, but the paperback I read it in was in good condition and seemed fairly new. Written in English.

Story focused around a woman, who for some reason had been injected/infected with a form of nanotechnology (I think that was the term used). These nanobots initially repaired any injury or damage the woman received. However as the years pass the nanobots have repaired so much of the woman that little or no flesh or blood exists, even replacing elements of the brain. The woman is still lucid and self aware.

The consequence of the repairing is the woman is now unable to die, and immortal (I think). As the years pass by she witnesses the end of the earth and the death of the sun in a supernova.

This is as far into the story as I can remember. If an answer was to include where I can read the story again that'd be great.

I'm familiar with many of the works of classic sci-fi authors, and I believe if I'd heard of the author before I would have remembered their name, and therefore found the story myself.

  • @Richard I was trying to figure out why your STD nanobots thing was ringing a bell. Turns out I was thinking of the end of the Outer Limits episodes "The New Breed". – Trish Ling Feb 26 '15 at 20:57
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+500

I think this story could be "World Without End" by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre, published in 2010, in two different Mammoth books: The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF and The Mammoth Book of the End of the World

It's a story told in first person from the journal of a 16 year old girl who was injected with nanobots as a guinea pig for an experiment. She was a street prostitute originally. The sample excerpt from Google Books goes: "I was a street bint: selling my snatch to kerb-crawlers and pervs...".

She was injected by a university student unwillingly post-handjob:

"One of those clever lads from the Uni, he was, reading science. While I was pulling him off in the alley, he kept nattering to me about something he was working on. Nanotech, that was the word. And summat called the Hayflick limit, which meant bugger-all to me at the time, only I sussed it out later. Said he hadn't kept track of his own experiment, and wasn't sure he could ever repeat the results. I wanted him to stop jawing so I could just concentrate on getting him off and then get on to my next punter, but he kept blagging about little tiny robots and such. I was wearing a skimpy miniskirt and a halter. He saw the tracks all in the veins in my arms and my legs and he knew I was on the stuff. Then he jabbed a needle into my arm, injected something. It felt like fire in my blood, ooh I wanted it I wanted it."

As for slang for her lady bits: "They did tests on my fadge, and that, several times my lady-bits melted the tips of their scientific thingies." Apparently her fadge becomes blisteringly hot post injection....

After she is rendered immortal, she witnesses the end of humanity to a Great Pandemic which eats flesh and bone leaving behind piles of goo, all the humans and most animals died, except for insects. This is when she walked right on out of the cell she was being kept in for study.

She sees at least two different alien races come to the earth afterwards, the "Bug-men", and shiny green aliens.

At some point, the healing factor of the nanotech gets to the point where she's becoming less than human.

"It's just so bloody not fair. I can't eat I can't drink I can't sleep I can't breathe and now I can't even cry. I've lost everything that ever made me human except I can't die."

She's been alive for at least 3000 years, and she's watching the sun get bigger and redder and hotter. She hope that when the Earth finally melts or drops into the sun, it'll kill her and she'll have peace at last, but at the same time she fears that she'll still be alive in the sun burning and dieing and healing infinitely. Eventually the seas dry up and her skin starts burning and rehealing and burning over and over.

The last lines:

"At last at last billions of years falling into the sun hurry up will I die now or will it get worse now I'll know if

(gap)

oh damn its not fair"

Cringe worthy fate worse than death.

  • Yes. Yes. A thousands times yes. You shall reap a mighty bounty for finding this. – Valorum Feb 26 '15 at 22:54
  • Thank you very much, after a quick check I realised I'd read it in the (orange sleeved) Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF whilst staying at a friends for a wedding a few summers back. An answer and bonus memories. cheers – queeg Feb 27 '15 at 8:35
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    @Valorum Only four years late! – TheLethalCarrot Feb 13 at 14:43
  • @TheLethalCarrot - Better late than never, I always say – Valorum Feb 13 at 14:45

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