Friday, September 7, 2018

The Last to Matter, by Adam-Troy Castro

★★★★☆ Who Knew the End of the World Could Be So Entertaining?

(End of the World) The city is dying and its immortal human inhabitants seem inclined to die with it. Except for Kayn. (8,586 words; Time: 28m)

"The Last to Matter," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 100, published on .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2018.498 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story is reminiscent of “The Machine Stops,” by E.M. Forster.

Curiously, this story is both more hopeless than “The Machine Stops” and yet more fun too. The biggest appeal is the wild and crazy world that’s about to end. Plenty of laughs lighten the gloom, such as, when Kayn proposes marriage, and Peat says, “I’ve done that a couple of dozen times too. Once with you, in fact.” Or when Kayn becomes the last human being ever to care what a critic thought about his work.

Obviously there’s a deeper meaning in the story, exploring the question of whether there was any point to anything if it all has to end. “A crowning achievement the same thing as a total failure.” If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say the message is that it's the struggle that matters--not the outcome. Here, and in real life as well.

Con: No one ever makes even the slightest effort to see if it’s actually possible to fix anything. They don’t even talk about it. If they’re so bored because they’ve done everything, then they must have tried being repairmen. If not, hey, here’s something new to try.

Technically, the sun will get hotter as it ages, not cooler, up until it swells into a giant and (possibly) swallows the Earth. If the star in the story is actually a white dwarf, it’ll only cool off very, very slowly (a quadrillion years or so).

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Adam-Troy Castro Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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