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Looking for a particular short story

Calliope

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There's a short story I've been thinking of recently, and I can't remember the title or author. Before I spend hours back-tracing every anthology I've read for the past several years, I thought I'd check here to see if anyone had any leads.

The premise is that astronomers discover a planet that seems to contain the reincarnated dead. They determine this by spotting several famous people - Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, etc.

If I recall, they also determine that you only get there after a certain amount of suffering or rebirths, so a decision is made on a global scale to speed up the process through a program of global euthanasia. If there's no more rebirth, well, everyone gets to go to paradise, right?

Some countries (especially poorer ones in Africa and South America) don't cooperate, so the governments of the world...help them along. Domestically, they issue cyanide pills to citizens.

The story is told from the point of view of a teenage girl who lives in the suburbs with her parents and younger brother. The parents decide the whole family will go together using the "running car in a closed garage" trick. The girl escapes and goes to meet with her boyfriend, and the stinger at the end is (I think) that she's pregnant, and therefore the cycle will continue anyway.

Sound familiar to anyone? Chances are it was reprinted in one of the "Best New Horror" anthologies by Stephen Jones, or maybe in one of a few anthologies by folks like John Joseph Adams.
 

Calliope

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While I'm at it, this one has led me to look for a second story.

This one I'm almost certain was written by Harlan Ellison. At the very least, I know he narrated an audio version of it.

It's basically a triptych about three different scenarios of immortality.

- One in which no one dies anymore because all consciousness is uploaded into machines. Previously, when someone died, they would wait in limbo until the next person died, at which point the first person would move on. Now, the last person to die is trapped there forever, only to get an unexpected visitor during a temporary power outage that briefly blacks out the immortality servers.

-One in which no one dies anymore because they're able to achieve eternal youth. You can spend years gaining expertise in something, then sell your expertise to someone else in exchange for youth, and so on. Eventually, people decide they want to live the blissful, carefree lives of babies, leaving only robot attendants to watch over them.

-One in which you can live forever so long as you can find at least one person to love you.

EDIT: It is possible that the first of those three is another short story I'm conflating with this one; I know the last two are accurate, though.

EDIT 2: In fact, I'm pretty sure that first one isn't right. Instead, I believe it's something like "It came to pass that no one had to die, so long as they had enough money" and people eventually get bored with immortality and start killing each other, holding giant battles in Death Valley until eventually they rename the entire planet "Death Valley".
 
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Calliope

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For bonus points, someone could locate the short story I was mixing up with the triptych one - the one in which the last man to die is trapped in limbo until visited by a woman who has temporarily died due to a power outage in the servers that keep everyone immortal.
 

Calliope

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Okay, well, it turns out I'm awesome. I identified the Harlan Ellison one. It is, in fact, a story called "Four Short Novels" by Joe Haldeman, which Ellison narrated for the audio version of The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.

Still looking for the mass suicide one and maybe even the "last person to die" one.
 

Calliope

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Chuck Palahniuk's Obsolete looks promising.
Oh my god, that’s it. I forgot all about Haunted when I was thinking of short story collections. Well done. Seriously, thanks.

If you don’t mind me asking, how’d you come up with that? Did you remember the story, or is there some magic combination of Google search terms I missed?


That just leaves the “last man to die” story.

EDIT: apologies, I have no idea how I accidentally locked this. That’s the danger of responding on my phone.
 
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Thane of Fife

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Oh my god, that’s it. I forgot all about Haunted when I was thinking of short story collections. Well done. Seriously, thanks.

If you don’t mind me asking, how’d you come up with that? Did you remember the story, or is there some magic combination of Google search terms I missed?
I found it with a Google search of "short story Planet celebrities cyanide pills".
 
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