These two stories are written in a very similar style and have great ideas behind them. They are sci-fi writing at its most brilliant.
The Last Question is arguably the more powerful of the two, and asks what happens when entropy dissipates the universe. It does so through a series of time skips, each explaining where humanity is at as a species and how it has come closer to solving the problem of entropy. The sense of inevitability is stunning, pushing the story in a single undeniable direction. Asimov is a master at writing these inevitable feeling stories, and he make it seem as though the story must have written itself. Nothing is forced, and that sense of effortlessness leaves the reader completely immersed in the world created. This is a must read for any sci-fi fan, and I can safely admit I was in awe with the perfectly toned and executed ending.
The Last Answer takes on a more religious angle, but it’s conclusions feel no less inevitable. It starts with a man dieing, and his journey into the afterlife. He meets God, and learns he is to live with God for all eternity. The thought process given to how “glorious” it is to have this fate is rich and detailed, and feels like you are coming up with the thoughts rather than the protagonist. While it does go a bit quickly and takes some effort to keep up with, its conclusion is just as beautiful as The Last Question’s, and feels like a perfect companion piece.
Together, the works play with your mind, dancing inside with their ideas that seem like they were always there but only hidden. If you have 30 mins to spare, reading through these awe-inspiring short stories is well worth your time.