Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Last Question” as Want to Read:
The Last Question
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Last Question

4.58  ·  Rating details ·  18,669 ratings  ·  1,237 reviews
The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way ...
Audio CD, 9 pages
Published November 2007 by Ziggurat Productions (first published November 1956)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Last Question, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Samira Elytess
This story tells us an enigma. We are the creator and the creation at the same time.

As humans evolve, they become "God" or Creator.
Each story shows hu…more

This story tells us an enigma. We are the creator and the creation at the same time.

As humans evolve, they become "God" or Creator.
Each story shows humans evolution in increments.
( We evolve from flesh and blood to disembodied mind/energy/nano-tech particle cyborgs)

First story, humans are on Earth.
Second story, humans are in Space.
Third story, humans are outside of the Galaxy.
Fourth story, humans got rid of their bodies and are Minds.As disembodied individuals each of them have retained their personality or identity.
Fifth story,all individual minds lose their identity as they merge and form "GOD" or the Cosmic AC computer

The cycle of life starts all over again when the computer=God=Merged Individual Minds, manifests itself in the universe as big bang:"Let there be light"
In which, time, space, and life is created and entropy starts all over again.Thus, the cyclical pattern of the universe continues and so does humans' saga.

The question is: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Cosmic AC/God or humans inventing the Cosmic AC/God?
Are we trapped in a computer glitch that with each big bang birth we all play the same story plots?

It helps to have mystical and transhumanisim backgrounds to understand the story.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,669 ratings  ·  1,237 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Last Question
Muneel Zaidi
What's the point in giving you a summery for a 4,000-word short story? So here's what I'll do instead: I'll give you a lesson in physics. Sound good? Cool. Ever hear of the second law of thermodynamics? Yes? But you have no clue what it means? Okay, well we can work with that. Here's what Wikipedia has on the subject:
The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium—t
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Last Question (When the World Ends), Isaac Asimov

A science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov.

The story deals with the development of a series of computers called Multivac and their relationships with humanity through the courses of seven historic settings, beginning in 2061.

In each of the first six scenes a different character presents the computer with the same question; namely, how the threat to human existence posed by the heat death of the universe can be averted.

Tyler Bair
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi

JUST GOOGLE IT AND READ IT!!! A very quick 15 minute read and easily one of the best sci-fi short stories I've ever read. Whatever their literary tastes, anyone is capable of thoroughly enjoying this great work by one of the greatest sci-fi authors of all time! The last two sentences will leave your mind more blown than
a Chippendales stripper
anything in or remotely involved with a film directed by Michael Bay
Lindsey Lohan’s stockpile of cocaine
the proportions of human stupidity
the candles on a
J.L.   Sutton
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A short story about…entropy? A reader might question how exciting such a tale can be!

Image result for asimov last question

In “The Last Question,” Asimov presents nearly immortal humankind facing the end of all existence, “The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way ...” Asimov tells a story that stretches billions of years into the future with bot
It’s Asimov, it’s a classic golden age SF short story, it’s original with so much packed into so few pages and just maybe it’s prophetic.
I don’t often split out a particular story from a “best of “ or other compendium of short stories, but this is just so iconic that I’ve rated it as a separate entity
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-novels

Heck, what enormous stuffs people are capable of thinking!!

And only thing in my mind now is :

Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mind blown in 5 pages.

I've never wondered so deeply about the walks of our universe in 22 years of my life as much as I have in the span of barely fifteen minutes, which began with me opening this story and ended with me finishing it.

There is no proper review for me to provide to do justice to a book this short-lived and astounding.
Read it and you'll know it.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
The only question worth asking.
Our Sun will support life for billions of years, but what happens when it burns out? Perhaps future technology will enable us to seek out the safety of distant stars and habitat new planets, but then eventually those stars will die too. So is life as we know it, and all of mankind, destined to be doomed? Is it possible to reverse entropy?

This short story starts off in the year 2061 (keep in mind this was written in 1956) and follows the evolution of man and the subsequent advancement of techno
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
What a genius! I never read or listened to Isaac Asimov's text. An audiobook in Portuguese. This a science fiction short story written by Isaac Asimov in 1956. The story deals with the development of computers (artificial intelligence) called Multivacs and their relationships with humanity through the courses of seven historic settings, beginning in 2061.
Richard Derus
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I listened to this audiobook on YouTube.

MQ17J of Nicron saying the Galaxy would be filled in five years? VJ23X is such a putz. 20,000 years and the Galaxy is filled up, and that doesn't suggest an inevitable bad end for Humanity?! Thomas Malthus was right, per Asimov.

Happen I agree...though I doubt my sense that this is the one and only planet we'll have a chance to fuck up. Entropy is a mean ol' daddy and we don't have (and won't IMO) the nous to grow out from under his hateful rule.

Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A review of this tale will not make sense for three reasons:

1) The unfolding of a certain twist in this short story is done with the last few words of this ~4000 word long story.
2) A review of any form will sweeten the pill - the crux of what Asimov is trying to get at.
3) Two is a reason in the first place because, it's simply impossible to describe this tale without giving away spoilers.

So read this after you read 'The Last Question'.
That said, I can give you this: This tale leaves room for
~ A rather bookish
An individual on GR sent me this short story, and I just read it in the hairsalon while I was waiting. This was an interesting short story, and I do admit, it's thought-provoking, but it wasn't really something I'd go out of my way to read. I would certainly recommend this to fans of science-fiction, though.
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Steinhardt and Turok's book Endless Universe spends a surprising amount of time discussing this classic SF short story. I think that tells us something both about Isaac Asimov and about the state of modern early-universe cosmology.
¡Big Bang!
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing

edit: new link provided from a below comment

great read.
Myat Thura Aung
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It gave me goosebumps. This is one of the most beautiful and thrilling short stories I've ever read. :')
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel like my life has changed in the space of half an hour...
This is most likely Isaac Asimov's best story. It appeared in the November 1956 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly and Asimov said [when he read his own stories: HERE) that "it is just about my favorite story of all the stories I have written."

It is certainly a superb story on the nature of entropy and the ultimate question: Can entropy be reversed? The twist which provides the answer comes in the final lines of the story and is stunning. There is little more that I can say without completely g
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing

You can listen to an excellent narration of it here:
Bharath Thampi
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh I just love it when someone can eloquently point out how much capable we humans are of destroying ourselves with our obsessive self-love. No, not self-love maybe, but something comparable. A frantic desire to find answers to things that should be left alone. The mad will to live when living is less relevant as some other things.


Perhaps this is really how everything will come to an end finally. Who knows....
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.4 stars. I would have given the story 4 stars if there had been less redundancies within. Overall a creative and thought-provoking story.
Alfaniel Aldavan
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing

The Last Question is a beautiful and engaging short story. Whether you pick reading its 20+ pages, or listen to an audio recording, I recommend you don't miss this little gem.

Asimov gives a visual account of a cosmological theory, an answer to the question "how to reverse entropy?", or the wonder of creation of an universe at all.

You can find it online for free.
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, short-story
Great short story. I’m glad I took a moment to track it down and read it. It brought to mind another one that I read recently. They both were generally in the same ballpark theme-wise, but all bets were off when it came to quality. MASSIVE difference in my mind. When I finished this one I instantly thought, “…and that is how you’re supposed to do it!”
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uni
HOLYYYY HEEEELLL. i had to read this for my lit exam tomorrow and it's so good. sci-fi isn't my personal preference but the last two sentences made me scream. literally. it's so so good!!!!
The stars and Galaxies died and snuffed out, and space grew black after ten trillion years of running down.

What if we moved to a state of system where there was no chaos? What if Entropy - the measure of disorder could be reduced? Physics says that its not going happen. In a closed system, irrespective of its size or state, entropy doesn't decrease. The mathematical probability of that happenstance is very, very, very less.

If there is an entity that's evolving and self learning, faster than th
May 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Probably the single most brilliant piece of short fiction I have had the pleasure of reading. And the most influential story in my post existentialist/depression life.

I stumbled upon this story around five years ago. It was part of a compilation of short stories in the book we used for our literature 1 in school. I still remember the first time I read it.

The shock, the reaction, the sadfaksdnasd when I had finished reading it is still fresh in my mind.

Actually I remembered the story but not the
Steve Haywood
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Many short stories I read are just too short - not so much in length but in the concept, the idea, the story itself. This story is about 4,000 words, so about average in terms of actual length but in terms of the idea it is a story on a truly grand scale, awe inspiring and incredible. It manages to keep you entertaining and intrigued over billions of years, it manages to gently explain one of the biggest fundamental scientific truths, and it offers an answer to one of the biggest questions of th ...more
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"The Last Question" is now, after coming across it at random and spending no more than 30 minutes reading it, one of my favorite short stories.

It begins with the asking of a simple question: "How can we reverse entropy?" In other words, how can existence go on forever, or rather, how can things never end? This question is asked over and over again throughout the eons by various incarnations of mankind to some new form of the AC--a massive computer that compiles and computes data to form solution
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Good Listeners' Club: The Last Question by Isaac Asimov 1 4 Mar 30, 2020 03:28AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions 2 17 Dec 01, 2017 02:40AM  
EDCMOOC: The Last Question by Isaac Asimov - May's read for June 7th chat 14 47 Jul 05, 2014 01:54AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Egg
  • They're Made Out of Meat
  • We Can Get Them For You Wholesale
  • Other People
  • The Nine Billion Names of God
  • Harrison Bergeron
  • The Star
  • All Summer in a Day
  • There Will Come Soft Rains
  • The Jaunt
  • A Sound of Thunder
  • The Veldt
  • Hills Like White Elephants
  • The Lottery
  • I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream
  • The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
  • The Star
  • The Pedestrian: A Fantasy in One Act
See similar books…
Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Professor Asimov is generally considered one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has works published in nine o

Related Articles

You probably know coauthors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck as James S.A. Corey—their shared pen name. And you probably know them from their wildly...
149 likes · 20 comments
More quotes…