I'm trying to find a short story whose name I've forgotten. I'll tell you everything I know about it below:

I once read a short story about a village of people who were all immortal. Instead of following any particular character, the story describes the 3 types of people who lived in their village, the overall lifestyle of the village, and so on.

The first type were the people who saw immortality as an opportunity to achieve, and as a result they spend their whole life pursuing new careers, achievements, and experiences.

The second type see immortality as an excuse to enjoy life- since you have an infinite amount of time to do anything, why hurry.

The story then diverges into discussing the culture of the village, for example, how it impacts family structure to have your parents still be alive your whole life.

Finally, the story concludes that a 3rd group of people see immortality as a curse, and consequently commit suicide.

If anyone knows this story and can remind me of the author/title, I'd greatly appreciate it.

1 Answer 1


It's a NY Times opinion piece from 1993 called "A Brief Version of Time" by Alan Lightman.

Suppose that people live forever.

Strangely, the population of each city splits in two: the Laters and the Nows.

The Laters reason that there is no hurry to begin their classes at the university, to learn a second language, to read Voltaire or Newton, to seek promotion in their jobs, to fall in love, to raise a family. In endless time, all things can be accomplished. Thus all things can wait. Indeed, hasty actions breed mistakes. And who can argue with their logic? The Laters can be recognized in any shop or promenade. They walk an easy gait and wear loose-fitting clothes. They take pleasure in reading whatever magazines are open or rearranging furniture in their homes, or slipping into conversation the way a leaf falls from a tree. The Laters sit in cafes sipping coffee and discussing the possibilities of life.

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