Science fiction stories are often set in the future, but these ones go further ahead than most. Some of them present a changed version of humanity.
“Seven Birthdays” by Ken Liu
Mia and her dad are at the park on her seventh birthday. They’ve been waiting, but her mother hasn’t arrived yet. She’s away a lot. Mia flies her kite. Her mother arrives. She was delayed with important work, bringing an ambassador up to speed on a solar management plan. There’s tension between Mia’s parents. She tries to smooth things over. The narrative continues with Mia’s relationship with her mother—and the future of humanity.
This story can be read in the preview of The Year’s Top Hard Science Fiction Stories.
“Good Mountain” by Robert Reed
The worm is approaching World’s Edge. The caretaker, Brace, informs the passengers they must disembark even if it’s not their stop. The worm needs to be tended to, have a rest, and get a good meal. Jopale isn’t worried by the delay; he’s been scared a long time, so this is manageable. He’s headed somewhere that should be better. He notices a young woman who looks optimistic as well. The passengers start trying to guess her destination.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of One Million A. D. (12% into preview)
“The Chapter Ends” by Poul Anderson
Jorun has returned to Earth with a small crew to prepare the few remaining humans to leave. The ship will be leaving in a few days. Jorun’s people don’t need ships to travel, but they’re being provided for the primitive humans on Earth. Kormt, an old man, has decided to stay. He feels a connection to Earth, and believes Jorun’s people have something dead inside them.
This story can be read in the preview of the anthology Supermen: Tales of the Posthuman Future. (18% into preview)
“Old Hundredth” by Brian W. Aldiss
No one lives in Ghinomon anymore. The musicolumns only get activated by an occasional goat or vole. Dandi, an expert on the musicolumns, rides by on her mare. She communes with her mentor who’s half a world away.
This story can be read in the preview of the anthology Beyond Singularity. (23% into preview)
“Utriusque Cosmi” by Robert Charles Wilson
Carlotta reenters the universe after it has run its course, finds the trailer park, passes through the wall and hovers over herself lying in bed. A force known as the Fleet has been “rapturing” the populations of planets endangered by the Invisible Enemy. Carlotta accepted the offer of Erasmus, a non-human avatar, and survived. Carlotta revisits some of her past from a billion years ago, and the Fleet tries to deal with the Invisible Enemy.
This story can be read in the preview of The New Space Opera 2. (7% into preview)
“Cicada Queen” by Bruce Sterling
Landau, a Shaper who defected, relates some significant events from the night the Queen called off her dogs. He went to a party at the home of Kulagin, a wealthy Mechanist, for a celebration and initiation. Also there was Wellspring, his friend and mentor.
This story can be read in the preview of The World’s Best Science Fiction: First Annual Collection. (32% in)
“Border Guards” by Greg Egan
Jamil is wandering home when he hears the shouts of a game from behind the library. He joins the quantum soccer match. The city paints the wave function of the ball and enables him to identify the players. New entries are allowed at any time, so Jamil integrates into the game.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of the anthology Beyond Singularity. (67% into preview)
“Day Million” by Frederik Pohl
In the far future, a man and woman, Don and Dora, carry on a romantic relationship. The narrative highlights the differences between how things are done now and how they’re done in this advanced society. There are differences in gender expectations and body makeup, as well as in how a relationship is carried out.
“The Last Question” by Isaac Asimov
Multivac is a supercomputer that analyzes, and provides solutions for, many human problems and questions. One day, in 2061, two of its attendants, Adell and Lupov, have a conversation about how long Earth’s energy will last. The output has already been drastically increased due to Multivac’s analysis. Still, they figure twenty billion years is probably the limit. They decide to ask Multivac how to massively decrease entropy in the universe.