The Egg, by Andy Weir takes place in second and first person pronouns – it is a dialogue between “I” and “You”, with the reader being “you” in this short anecdote. It starts off with the “I” speaker, of the story, talking to us – the reader, that we have died in a car accident. A dialogue then ensues, explaining to us that we have died, and subsequently, we ask the speaker if they are god, to which they confirm.
The dialogue continues, revealing that we will be reincarnated – more interestingly, as a person who seemingly lived in a prior point in time (going backwards in time). The dialogue then reveals that we are, have, and will be reincarnated as every person who has and will exist in the universe. The speaker then explains that only once we have lived all the lives to live, can we “grow” up into what the speaker is, a god or other divine being who has created this universe as our “egg” in which to grow.
Then, the dialogue ceases, and the speaker “sends us on our way”… to the next life to live. Sci-fi once again enters the world of Isaac Asimov’s short story. However, this short story, the Last Question, consists of several shorter stories, each of the same form and length, making the overall story quite repetitive. However, each story takes place in a different point in time in the future, where the first story itself starts in the future. Each of these short stories begins with a the presentation of a supercomputer, as Asimov calls it in this, an “AC”.
In each subsequent story, there is a more advanced generation of AC being utilized by mankind. Now, in each of these stories center around a dialogue between two people, or beings in the future. The dialogue begins with one of the characters having the realization that the universe’s stars will all burn out one day, and along with it, life and the universe as we know it. Upon realizing this, the character, dismayed, asks the other if this could ever be stopped and if new stars could be made again.
The other character, baffled, realizes this is the equivalent of asking the famous scientific question, “can entropy ever be reversed”, where the age-old answer to this has always been no. Dissatisfied, the first character proposes to ask the all-knowing AC if this would ever be possible. And each time, whatever generation of AC it is, no matter how complex, returns the same response, that there is as yet “insufficient data for a meaningful answer. ” With each iteration of the story, however, as the AC units become more complex, entropy proceeds, stars die, and planets with human bodies die with it.
Humans detach from physical forms, guided by the AC, becoming minds that transcend time and space instead of physical bodies, and then merging into one essence of humanity altogether, existing as one transcendental entity in the cosmos by the last story, as Asimov refers to as “Man”. Then, in the very ending story, when all the stars in the universe have expired, Man merges with AC, leaving nothing but the AC with all human knowledge ever. The AC has collected all there is to know, and has witness entropy proceed to it’s eventual limiting end, and now, the AC has the answer if entropy can be reversed.
Asimov ends this story with this AC seeming to create the new universe all over again with famous divine rhetoric – “‘Let there be light’… and there was light. ” To some extent The Egg by Andy Weir is an imitation of The Last Question by Isaac Asimov, both tackle the same themes and do so in a very similar way. Both tackle question on the creation of the universe, mankind’s place in it, and what happens to the universe in time and what we are all here for.
It is important to know while the struct, presentation of content and content itself is very similar in both of the works, the style in which it is presented has differences, that may even be subtle, that lead to a different effect on the reader by the end of each story, by using differences in tone, inflection, voice and progression of the piece. The Egg and The Last Question have very similar overarching themes when answering to the question of how the universe exists and what is the role of humans in it.
Throughout the dialogues in each, almost in a parallel fashion, each slowly reveals that humans are one part of a “greater mankind”, where a person, in the broader picture of things, is not an individual, but rather a small portion of the collective knowledge of all humanity throughout universe and time. While both The Egg and The Last Question tackle the question of how the universe exists and what is the role of humans in it, through the progression of the dialogue, each focuses on different aspects of this question. The Egg focuses on the relationship of humans with each other as a collective mankind, which the universe “houses”.
Instead of focusing on the “collective mankind” aspect and making the universe’s role secondary, The Last Question has the opposite approach, the focus is on the creation (and death), of the universe, while the knowledge of “collective mankind” serves as first vehicle for understanding it in order as an attempt to gain any control over it. While the role of humans is not explicitly secondary in The Last Question, knowledge takes precedence, which is what humans seem to simply symbolize. Both pieces are styled as a conversation between two parties.
The reasons for these authors using dialogue to convey big philosophical ideas about the universe, creation thereof, and mankind’s place in it, is implemented for reasons even utilized by Plato. Dialogue imparts a dramatic flair. Observing, or taking part of a dialogue is far more intimate to the audience or reader in a piece of writing rather than ideas simply being talked “at” the reader from the third-party narrator’s perspective. Dialogue ends up being more captivating this regard, and rather than the moral of work or essay being directly argued for, such a moral presented in this anecdotal form allows the reader to realize the moral.
Dialogue is an indirect transmission of ideas to the audience, where the reader ends up conceiving the ideas conveyed in the anecdote from their own subconscious. This has more of a resonating, dramatic impact on the reader rather than simply being told the idea. However, there is a distinct difference in the parties involved in dialogue between the two stories, which leaves a significant impact on the tone of the story and the readers/audience relation to it.
In the first, it takes place between the narrator/writer of the story, and us, the the reader. In the second, where it is broken up into several shorter stories, the dialogue is between two beings (who are different in each short story). In the first story, the dialogue begins between two people, and then in subsequent stories, the dialogue is between more abstract versions of humankind as time goes on, until finally, the dialogue is between the very abstract “cumulative knowledge” and “essence” of humankind itself “Man to Man”, as Asimov terms it.
The relationship between the text and the reader in The Egg is far, far more intimate than that in The Final Question, in part because the dialogue, which is the whole anecdote, is between the text and the reader, as mentioned. In this fashion, the reader is essentially “acting” as a character in the world Weir aims to construct in this anecdote; resulting in the reader becoming immersed in this world, and subsequently, Weir’s philosophy.