阿西莫夫《最后的问题》中英对照翻译版

The Last Question

最后的问题

By Isaac Asimov

阿西莫夫

This is by far my favorite story of all those I have written.

After all, I undertook to tell several trillion years of human history in the space of a short story and I leave it to you as to how well I succeeded. I also undertook another task, but I won’t tell you what that was lest l spoil the story for you.

这是目前我在所写过所有的故事中最喜爱的一篇。

总之,我试图在这篇短短的文字中讲述几万亿年的人类历史。我是否成功地做到了这一点将留给你们去判断。同时我还有另外一个目标,但为了避免剧透我不能告诉你们。

It is a curious fact that innumerable readers have asked me if I wrote this story. They seem never to remember the title of the story or (for sure) the author, except for the vague thought it might be me. But, of course, they never forget the story itself especially the ending. The idea seems to drown out everything — and I’m satisfied that it should.

很奇怪的是有无数的读者问我这个故事是不是我写的。他们似乎从来记不住这个故事的标题,更记不住作者,而只是模糊地认为可能是我。不过当然了,他们从来不会忘记故事本身,特别是它的结尾——它似乎掩盖了所有其他的东西——这一点令我十分满意。

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:

最后的问题第一次被半开玩笑地提出是在2061年的5月21日。那时人类文明刚刚步入曙光中。这个问题源起于酒酣之中一个五美元的赌,它是这么发生的:

Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov were two of the faithful attendants of Multivac. As well as any human beings could, they knew what lay behind the cold, clicking, flashing face — miles and miles of face — of that giant computer. They had at least a vague notion of the general plan of relays and circuits that had long since grown past the point where any single human could possibly have a firm grasp of the whole.

亚历山大·阿代尔与贝特伦·卢泊夫是Multivac的两个忠实的管理员。像任何其他人一样,他们知道在那台巨大的计算机数英里冰冷、闪烁、滴答作响的面庞后藏着什么。那些电子回路早已发展到任何个别的人都无法完全掌握的地步,但他们至少对它的大致蓝图有个基本的概念。

Multivac was self-adjusting and self-correcting. It had to be, for nothing human could adjust and correct it quickly enough or even adequately enough. So Adell and Lupov attended the monstrous giant only lightly and superficially, yet as well as any men could. They fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued. Certainly they, and all others like them, were fully entitled to share in the glory that was Multivac’s.

Multivac能自我调节和自我修正。这对它是必要的,因为人类当中没有谁能够快甚至够好地对它进行调节和修正。所以实际上阿代尔与卢泊夫对这个庞然大物只进行一些非常轻松和肤浅的管理,任何其他人也都只能做到这个程度。他们给它输送数据,根据它所需的格式修改问题,然后翻译给出的答案。当然,他们以及其他管理员们完全有资格分享属于Multivac的荣誉。

For decades, Multivac had helped design the ships and plot the trajectories that enabled man to reach the Moon, Mars, and Venus, but past that, Earth’s poor resources could not support the ships. Too much energy was needed for the long trips. Earth exploited its coal and uranium with increasing efficiency, but there was only so much of both.

几十年中,在Multivac的帮助下人类建造了宇宙飞船,计算出航行路径,从而得以登陆月球、火星和金星。但是更远的航行需要大量的能量,地球上可怜的资源不足以支持这些飞船。尽管人类不断地提高煤炭和核能的利用效率,但煤和铀都是有限的。

But slowly Multivac learned enough to answer deeper questions more fundamentally, and on May 14, 2061, what had been theory, became fact.

但是慢慢地Multivac学会了如何从根本上解决某些深层次问题。2061年5月14日,理论成为了现实。

The energy of the sun was stored, converted, and utilized directly on a planet-wide scale. All Earth turned off its burning coal, its fissioning uranium, and flipped the switch that connected all of it to a small station, one mile in diameter, circling the Earth at half the distance of the Moon. All Earth ran by invisible beams of sunpower.

太阳的能量被储存和转化,得以被全球规模地直接利用。整个地球熄灭了燃烧的煤炭,关闭了核反应炉,打开了连接到那个小小的太阳能空间站的开关。这个空间站直径一英里,在到月球的距离一半处环绕着地球。看不见的太阳的光束支撑着整个地球社会的运行。

Seven days had not sufficed to dim the glory of it and Adell and Lupov finally managed to escape from the public functions, and to meet in quiet where no one would think of looking for them, in the deserted underground chambers, where portions of the mighty buried body of Multivac showed. Unattended, idling, sorting data with contented lazy clickings, Multivac, too, had earned its vacation and the boys appreciated that. They had no intention, originally, of disturbing it.

七天的庆祝还不足以暗淡这创举的光辉。阿代尔与卢泊夫总算逃脱了公众事务,悄悄地相聚在这个谁也想不到的荒僻的地下室。在这里Multivac埋藏着的庞大身躯露出了一部分。它正独自闲暇地整理着数据,发出满足的、慵懒的滴答声——它也得到了假期。他们了解这一点,一开始他们并没打算打扰它。

They had brought a bottle with them, and their only concern at the moment was to relax in the company of each other and the bottle.

他们带来了一瓶酒。这会儿他们想做的只是在一起,喝喝酒,放松放松。

“It’s amazing when you think of it,” said Adell. His broad face had lines of weariness in it, and he stirred his drink slowly with a glass rod, watching the cubes of ice slur clumsily about. “All the energy we can possibly ever use for free. Enough energy, if we wanted to draw on it, to melt all Earth into a big drop of impure liquid iron, and still never miss the energy so used. All the energy we could ever use, forever and forever and forever.”

“你想一想就会觉得很神奇,”阿代尔说。他宽阔的脸庞已有了疲倦的纹路。他慢慢地用玻璃棒搅动着酒,看着冰块笨拙地滑动。“从此我们所用的所有能量都是免费的。只要我们愿意,我们能把地球熔化成一颗液态大铁球——还能毫不在乎花掉的能量。够我们永远永远永远用下去的能量。”

Lupov cocked his head sideways. He had a trick of doing that when he wanted to be contrary, and he wanted to be contrary now, partly because he had had to carry the ice and glassware. “Not forever,” he said.

卢泊夫将头歪向一边,这是当他想要反驳对方时的习惯动作。他现在确实想要反驳,部分原因是他在负责拿着冰和杯子。他说:“不是永远。”

“Oh, hell, just about forever. Till the sun runs down, Bert.”

“哦去你的,差不多就是永远。直到太阳完蛋,老贝。”

“That’s not forever.”

“那就不是永远。”

“All right, then. Billions and billions of years. Ten billion, maybe. Are you satisfied?”

“好吧。几十亿年,可能一百亿年,满意了吧?”

Lupov put his fingers through his thinning hair as though to reassure himself that some was still left and sipped gently at his own drink. “Ten billion years isn’t forever.”

卢泊夫用手梳着他稀薄的头发,仿佛要确认还剩下了一些。他缓缓地抿着自己的酒说,“一百亿年也不是永远。”

“Well, it will last our time, won’t it?”

“但对我们来说是够了,不是吗?”

“So would the coal and uranium.”

“煤和铀对我们来说也够了。”

“All right, but now we can hook up each individual spaceship to the Solar Station, and it can go to Pluto and back a million times without ever worrying about fuel. You can’t do that on coal and uranium. Ask Multivac, if you don’t believe me.

“好好好,但是现在我们能把宇宙飞船连接到太阳能电站,然后飞到冥王星又飞回来一百万次而不用担心燃料。靠煤和铀你就做不到。不信去问问Multivac。”

“I don’t have to ask Multivac. I know that.”

“我不用问它。我知道。”

“Then stop running down what Multivac’s done for us,” said Adell, blazing up, “It did all right.”

“那就不要小看Multivac为我们做的事,”阿代尔怒道,“它做得很好。”

“Who says it didn’t? What I say is that a sun won’t last forever. That’s all I’m saying. We’re safe for ten billion years, but then what?” Lupow pointed a slightly shaky finger at the other. “And don’t say we’ll switch to another sun.”

“谁说它做得不好?我是说太阳不能永远燃烧下去,我只是这个意思。我们在一百亿年内可以高枕无忧,但是然后呢?”卢泊夫用略微颤抖的手指指着对方,“不要说我们换另外一个太阳。”

There was silence for a while. Adell put his glass to his lips only occasionally, and Lupov’s eyes slowly closed. They rested.

片刻的沉默。阿代尔偶尔将酒杯放到唇边,而卢泊夫慢慢地闭上了眼睛。两人都在休息。

Then Lupov’s eyes snapped open. “You’re thinking we’ll switch to another sun when ours is done, aren’t you?”

然后卢泊夫突然睁开眼,“你在想当我们的太阳没了就换另外一个太阳,是吧?”

“I’m not thinking.”

“我没这么想。”

“Sure you are. You’re weak on logic, that’s the trouble with you. You’re like the guy in the story who was caught in a sudden shower and who ran to a grove of trees and got under one. He wasn’t worried, you see, because he figured when one tree got wet through, he would just get under another one.”

“你就是这么想的。你的逻辑不行,这就是你的问题。你就像故事里说的那个人一样,碰上了雨就跑到树林里躲在一棵树下。他可不担心,是吧,因为他以为当这棵树淋得太湿的时候他只要跑到另一棵树下就行。”

“I get it,” said Adell. “Don’t shout. When the sun is done, the other stars will be gone, too.”

“我明白了,”阿代尔说,“别嚷嚷。太阳完蛋了,其他的也都会完蛋。”

“Darn right they will,” muttered Lupov. “It all had a beginning in the original cosmic explosion, whatever that was, and it’ll all have an end when all the stars run down. Some run down faster than others. Hell, the giants won’t last a hundred million years. The sun will last ten billion years and maybe the dwarfs will last two hundred billion for all the good they are. But just give us a trillion years and everything will be dark. Entropy has to increase to maximum, that’s all.”

“完全正确,”卢泊夫嘟哝道,“一切都在起初那个宇宙大爆炸中有个开始,不管那到底是怎么回事。当所有的恒星都熄灭了,一切也都会有个结束。有的星星熄灭得比别的早。像那些该死的巨星维持不了一亿年。我们的太阳能持续一百亿年,矮星再怎么样最多也只有两千亿年。一万亿年后一切都是一片漆黑。熵必须增加到最大值,就是这样。”

“I know all about entropy,” said Adell, standing on his dignity.

“我非常明白什么是熵,”阿代尔维护着他的自尊。

“The hell you do.”

“你明白个屁。”

“I know as much as you do.”

“我跟你知道的一样多。”

“Then you know everything’s got to run down someday.”

“那你该知道某一天所有的东西都会耗光。”

“All right. Who says they won’t?”

“是是是。谁说它们不会呢?”

“You did, you poor sap. You said we had all the energy we needed, forever. You said ‘forever.’

“你说的,你这个糊涂虫。你说我们有永远用不完的能量。你说的‘永远’。”

It was Adell’s turn to be contrary. “Maybe we can build things up again someday,” he said.

现在轮到阿代尔反驳了。他说:“也许有一天我们能让一切从头开始。”

“Never.”

“绝不可能。”

“Why not? Someday.”

“为什么?总有那么一天的。”

“Never.”

“没有。”

“Ask Multivac.”

“问问Multivac。”

“You ask Multivac. I dare you. Five dollars says it can’t be done.”

“你去问Multivac。你敢吗?我赌五美元它说这不可能。”

Adell was just drunk enough to try, just sober enough to be able to phrase the necessary symbols and operations into a question which, in words, might have corresponded to this: Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?

阿代尔刚刚醉到愿意一试,又刚刚足够清醒到能拼写出问问题需要的符号和算式。这个问题用文字来表达就是:人类是否有一天能不需要净损耗能量而在恒星衰竭之后将其恢复到全盛时期?

Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

或者更简明地这样说:怎样使宇宙的总熵大幅度地降低?

Multivac fell dead and silent. The slow flashing of lights ceased, the distant sounds of clicking relays ended.

Multivac陷入了静止和沉默。缓慢闪烁的灯光熄灭了,深处传来的电路的滴答声停止了。

Then, just as the frightened technicians felt they could hold their breath no longer, there was a sudden springing to life of the teletype attached to that portion of Multivac. Five words were printed: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

正当这两位被吓坏的技术员感到他们无法再屏住呼吸时,忽然间与Multivac相连的打字机开始运作起来。它打出几个字:数据不足,无法作答。

“No bet,” whispered Lupov. They left hurriedly.

“赌不成了。”卢泊夫悄声道。他们匆忙离开了。

By next morning, the two, plagued with throbbing head and cottony mouth, had forgotten the incident.

到了第二天早晨,两人头晕脑胀,口干舌燥,把这件事给忘了。

****************************************************

Jerrodd, Jerrodine, and Jerrodette I and II watched the starry picture in the visiplate change as the passage through hyperspace was completed in its non-time lapse. At once, the even powdering of stars gave way to the predominance of a single bright shining disk, the size of a marble, centered on the viewing-screen.

贾诺德、贾诺汀和贾诺蒂I、贾诺蒂II注视着屏幕中变幻的星空影像。飞船在超越时间的一瞬中穿越了超时空,均匀分布的星群立刻被一个明亮的圆盘取代。它弹珠大小,占据着屏幕的中心。

“That’s X-23,” said Jerrodd confidently. His thin hands clamped tightly behind his back and the knuckles whitened.

“那就是X-23,”贾诺德自信地说。他紧握着的瘦削的手背在身后,指节发白。

The little Jerrodettes, both girls, had experienced the hyperspace passage for the first time in their lives and were self-conscious over the momentary sensation of insideoutness. They buried their giggles and chased one another wildly about their mother, screaming, “We’ve reached X-23 — we’ve reached X-23 — we’ve –”

两个小贾诺蒂都是女孩。她们一生中第一次经历超时空飞行,清晰地感到那种片刻的恶心[注]。她们悄声地嘻笑着,疯狂地绕着她们的母亲互相追逐,一边尖叫:“我们到X-23了——我们到X-23了——我们——”

[注] 难以翻译的特有的恶心,大概是一种五脏六腑被翻出来的感觉吧。

“Quiet, children.” said Jerrodine sharply. “Are you sure, Jerrodd?”

“孩子们,别闹了!”贾诺汀严厉地说。“你确定吗,贾诺德?”

“What is there to be but sure?” asked Jerrodd, glancing up at the bulge of featureless metal just under the ceiling. It ran the length of the room, disappearing through the wall at either end. It was as long as the ship.

“有什么不确定的?”贾诺德瞟了一眼天花板上凸出的那块毫不起眼的金属。它从房间的一头延伸到另一头,两端埋入墙壁中。它和整个飞船一样长。

Jerrodd scarcely knew a thing about the thick rod of metal except that it was called a Microvac, that one asked it questions if one wished; that if one did not it still had its task of guiding the ship to a preordered destination; of feeding on energies from the various Sub-galactic Power Stations; of computing the equations for the hyperspatial jumps.

贾诺德对这条厚厚的金属棒几乎一无所知。他只知道它叫做Microvac,你可以问它任何问题,而平时它控制着飞船飞向目的地,从不同的银河系能量分站向飞船输送能量,并完成进行超时空跳跃的计算。

Jerrodd and his family had only to wait and live in the comfortable residence quarters of the ship. Someone had once told Jerrodd that the “ac” at the end of “Microvac” stood for ‘’automatic computer” in ancient English, but he was on the edge of forgetting even that.

贾诺德一家只需要住在飞船舒适的居住区等待。曾经有人告诉贾诺德,“Microvac”词尾的“ac”是古英语中“automatic computer,智能电脑”的缩写。但他差不多连这都忘了。

Jerrodine’s eyes were moist as she watched the visiplate. “I can’t help it. I feel funny about leaving Earth.”

贾诺汀看着视屏,眼睛有些湿润。“没办法。想到离开了地球我感觉怪怪的。”

“Why, for Pete’s sake?” demanded Jerrodd. “We had nothing there. We’ll have everything on X-23. You won’t be alone. You won’t be a pioneer. There are over a million people on the planet already. Good Lord, our great-grandchildren will be looking for new worlds because X-23 will be overcrowded.” Then, after a reflective pause, “I tell you, it’s a lucky thing the computers worked out interstellar travel the way the race is growing.”

“天哪,为什么?”贾诺德问。“我们在那儿什么也没有。我们在X-23上会拥有一切。你并不孤单,你又不是那些拓荒者。这个行星上已经有超过一百万人了。天哪,我们的曾孙们会得去找新的星球,因为那时X-23会太挤了。”他想了一会,说:“告诉你,人口增长这么快,幸亏电脑实现了星际旅行。”

“I know, I know,” said Jerrodine miserably.

“我知道,我知道。”贾诺汀难过地回答。

Jerrodette I said promptly, “Our Microvac is the best Microvac in the world.”

贾诺蒂I马上说道:“我们的Microvac是世界上最好的Microvac。”

“I think so, too,” said Jerrodd, tousling her hair.

“我也是这么想的。”贾诺德抚弄着她的头发说。

It was a nice feeling to have a Microvac of your own and Jerrodd was glad he was part of his generation and no other. In his father’s youth, the only computers had been tremendous machines taking up a hundred square miles of land. There was only one to a planet. Planetary ACs they were called. They had been growing in size steadily for a thousand years and then, all at once, came refinement. In place of transistors, had come molecular valves so that even the largest Planetary AC could be put into a space only half the volume of a spaceship.

能拥有一台自己的Microvac的感觉非常好。贾诺德很高兴他属于他们这一代人。在他父亲年轻的时候,电脑都是占地一百平方英里的巨大机器。一个星球只有一台,被称作行星AC。一千年来它们的体积逐步地增加,然后忽然间缩小了,因为分子阀取代了晶体管,使得最大的行星AC都缩小到了只有一艘飞船的一半体积。

Jerrodd felt uplifted, as he always did when he thought that his own personal Microvac was many times more complicated than the ancient and primitive Multivac that had first tamed the Sun, and almost as complicated as Earth’s Planetarv AC (the largest) that had first solved the problem of hyperspatial travel and had made trips to the stars possible.

每当想到这件事贾诺德总是感到飘飘然:他的Microvac比那台古老原始的首次驯服了太阳的Multivac要精密好几倍,而且和第一台解决了超时空传送问题从而实现了星际航行的地球行星AC(最大的行星AC)一样精密。

“So many stars, so many planets,” sighed Jerrodine, busy with her own thoughts. “I suppose families will be going out to new planets forever, the way we are now.”

“这么多的恒星,这么多的行星。”贾诺汀想着心事,叹息道。“我想人们会永远不断地出发去找新的行星,就像我们现在这样。”

“Not forever,” said Jerrodd, with a smile. “It will all stop someday, but not for billions of years. Many billions. Even the stars run down, you know. Entropy must increase.”

“不是永远,”贾诺德笑了一笑说。“有一天这一切都会停下来,但那是在几十亿年之后了。好几十亿年。即使是星星也会耗尽,你知道的。熵必须不断增大。”

“What’s entropy, daddy?” shrilled Jerrodette II.

“爸爸,熵是什么?”贾诺蒂II喊道。

“Entropy, little sweet, is just a word which means the amount of running-down of the universe. Everything runs down, you know, like your little walkie-talkie robot, remember?”

“小宝贝,熵,就是一个代表着宇宙消耗掉了多少的词。什么东西都会消耗,知道吗,就像你那个会走路会说话的小机器人,记得吧?”

“Can’t you just put in a new power-unit, like with my robot?”

“你不能给它装一个新的电池吗,就像给我的机器人那样?”

“The stars are the power-units. dear. Once they’re gone, there are no more power-units.”

“星星们就是电池,亲爱的。一旦它们用完了,就没有别的电池了。”

Jerrodette I at once set up a howl. “Don’t let them, daddy. Don’t let the stars run down.”

贾诺蒂I一下子大喊起来:“别让它们用完,爸爸。别让星星们用完吧。”

“Now look what you’ve done,” whispered Jerrodine, exasperated.

“看看你干了什么。”贾诺汀恼火地低声说道。

“How was I to know it would frighten them?” Jerrodd whispered back.

“我怎么知道这会吓到她们?”贾诺德低声反驳。

“Ask the Microvac,” wailed Jerrodette I. “Ask him how to turn the stars on again.”

“问问Microvac,”贾诺蒂I哭叫道。“问它怎么把星星重新点亮。”

“Go ahead,” said Jerrodine. “It will quiet them down.” (Jerrodette II was beginning to cry, also.)

“问吧,”贾诺汀说。“这会让她们安静点的。”(贾诺蒂II也开始哭了。)

Jerrodd shrugged. “Now, now, honeys. I’ll ask Microvac. Don’t worry, he’ll tell us.”

贾诺德耸耸肩。“好了,好了,亲爱的。我去问Microvac。别着急,它会告诉我们的。”

He asked the Microvac, adding quickly, “Print the answer.”

他向Microvac提出问题,并赶紧加上“把答案打印出来。”

Jerrodd cupped the strip of thin cellufilm and said cheerfully, “See now, the Microvac says it will take care of everything when the time comes so don’t worry.”

贾诺德将薄薄的纤维纸带握在手心,高兴地说:“看吧,Microvac说到时候它会料理这一切,所以别担心啦。”

Jerrodine said, “And now, children, it’s time for bed. We’ll be in our new home soon.”

贾诺汀说:“那么现在孩子们,该睡觉了。我们马上就要到我们的新家了。”

Jerrodd read the words on the cellufilm again before destroying it: INSUFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

在销毁纸带之前贾诺德又读了一遍上面的文字:数据不足,无法作答。

He shrugged and looked at the visiplate. X-23 was just ahead.

他耸了耸肩,看向视屏。X-23就在前方。

****************************************************

VJ-23X of Lameth stared into the black depths of the three-dimensional, small-scale map of the Galaxy and said, “Are we ridiculous, I wonder in being so concerned about the matter?”

兰默斯VJ-23X注视着幽深的银河三维缩影图,说:“我想我们这么担心这件事是不是很可笑?”

MQ-17J of Nicron shook his head. “I think not. You know the Galaxy will be filled in five years at the present rate of expansion.”

尼克隆MQ-17J摇头道:“我不觉得。你知道照现在的扩展速度银河系在五年内就会被挤满。”

Both seemed in their early twenties, both were tall and perfectly formed.

两个人看起来都是二十出头,都很高大健康。

“Still,” said VJ-23X, “I hesitate to submit a pessimistic report to the Galactic Council.”

“但是,”VJ-23X说,“我不太想给银河参议会提交这样一个悲观的报告。”

“I wouldn’t consider any other kind of report. Stir them up a bit. We’ve got to stir them up.”

“我不会考虑作任何其他的报告。得引起他们的注意。我们必须引起他们的注意。”

VJ-23X sighed. “Space is infinite. A hundred billion Galaxies are there for the taking. More.”

VJ-23X叹了一口气。“太空是无限的。还有一千亿个星系等着我们。甚至更多。”

“A hundred billion is not infinite and it’s getting less infinite all the time. Consider! Twenty thousand years ago, mankind first solved the problem of utilizing stellar energy, and a few centuries later, interstellar travel became possible. It took mankind a million years to fill one small world and then only fifteen thousand years to fill the rest of the Galaxy. Now the population doubles every ten years –”

“一千亿并不是无限,而且正在变得越来越有限。想想吧!两万年前人类刚刚找到了利用恒星能量的方法,几个世纪之后星际旅行就实现了。人类用了一百万年才填满一个小小的星球,可是只用了一万五千年就占据了整个银河系。而现在人口每十年就翻一倍——”

VJ-23X interrupted. “We can thank immortality for that.”

VJ-23X 插口道:“这得归功于永生。”

“Very well. Immortality exists and we have to take it into account. I admit it has its seamy side, this immortality. The Galactic AC has solved many problems for us, but in solving the problem of preventing old age and death, it has undone all its other solutions.”

“不错。永生实现了,我们得把它考虑进去。我觉得它的确有阴暗的一面。银河AC给我们解决了很多问题,但当它解决了防止衰老和死亡这个问题之后其他的一切都白费了。”

“Yet you wouldn’t want to abandon life, I suppose.”

“但是我想你也不想放弃生命吧。”

“Not at all,” snapped MQ-17J, softening it at once to, “Not yet. I’m by no means old enough. How old are you?”

“一点也不想,”MQ-17J断然道,随即柔和了语调,“现在还不想。我还一点也不老。你多少岁了?”

“Two hundred twenty-three. And you?”

“两百二十三。你呢?”

“I’m still under two hundred. –But to get back to my point. Population doubles every ten years. Once this GaIaxy is filled, we’ll have filled another in ten years. Another ten years and we’ll have filled two more. Another decade, four more. In a hundred years, we’ll have filled a thousand Galaxies. In a thousand years, a million Galaxies. In ten thousand years, the entire known universe. Then what?”

“我还不到两百。——但是回到我说的事情上来。人口每十年增加一倍。一旦银河系被占满了,我们会在十年内占满另一个。再过十年我们能占满另外两个。再过十年,四个。一百年内我们会占满一千个星系。一千年内,一百万个。一万年内就是整个已知的宇宙。然后呢?”

VJ-23X said, “As a side issue, there’s a problem of transportation. I wonder how many sunpower units it will take to move Galaxies of individuals from one Galaxy to the next.”

VJ-23X说:“还有附带的一点是运输的问题。我不知道把一整个星系的人运送到另一个需要多少太阳单位的能量。”

“A very good point. Already, mankind consumes two sunpower units per year.”

“这一点说得很对。人类现在每年已经得消耗两个太阳单位的能量了。”

“Most of it’s wasted. After all, our own Galaxy alone pours out a thousand sunpower units a year and we only use two of those.”

“大部分的都被浪费了。不管怎样,我们自己的星系每年泼出去一千个太阳单位能而我们只用其中的两个。”

“Granted, but even with a hundred per cent efficiency, we only stave off the end. Our energy requirements are going up in a geometric progression even faster than our population. We’ll run out of energy even sooner than we run out of Galaxies. A good point. A very good point.”

“没错,但是即使有百分之百的效率,我们也只是推迟了结局的到来。我们对能量的需求以几何级数增长,比我们的人口还要快。在我们占据完所有星系之前我们就会用光所有能量。你说得对。说得非常对。”

“We’ll just have to build new stars out of interstellar gas.”

“我们可以用星际气体造出新的恒星。”

“Or out of dissipated heat?” asked MQ-17J, sarcastically.

“或者说用散失掉了的热量?”MQ-17J嘲讽地说。

“There may be some way to reverse entropy. We ought to ask the Galactic AC.”

“也许会有办法逆转熵的增加。我们应该问问银河AC。”

VJ-23X was not really serious, but MQ-17J pulled out his AC-contact from his pocket and placed it on the table before him.

VJ-23X并不是认真的,但是MQ-17J把他的AC联络器从口袋里拿出来放在面前的桌子上。

“I’ve half a mind to,” he said. “It’s something the human race will have to face someday.”

“我确实有点想问。”他说,“这个问题总有一天人类得面对。”

He stared somberly at his small AC-contact. It was only two inches cubed and nothing in itself, but it was connected through hyperspace with the great Galactic AC that served all mankind. Hyperspace considered, it was an integral part of the Galactic AC.

他忧郁地注视着小小的AC联络器。这是个两英寸的立方体。它本身并没有什么,而只是通过超时空与那个服务于全人类的超级银河AC相联系。如果将超时空算进来,它就是银河AC整体的一部分。

MQ-17J paused to wonder if someday in his immortal life he would get to see the Galactic AC. It was on a little world of its own, a spider webbing of force-beams holding the matter within which surges of submesons took the place of the old clumsy molecular valves. Yet despite its sub-etheric workings, the Galactic AC was known to be a full thousand feet across.

MQ-17J停下来想着在他不朽的生命中是否有一天他能有机会去看看银河AC。它占据着单独的一个小星球,能量束构成的蛛网支持着它的核心,其中古老笨拙的分子阀已被亚介子流取代。尽管有着亚以太级的精密结构,银河AC的直径仍足有一千英尺长。

MQ-17J asked suddenly of his AC-contact, “Can entropy ever be reversed?”

MQ-17J突然开口向AC联络器问道:“熵的增加能被逆转吗?”

VJ-23X looked startled and said at once, “Oh, say, I didn’t really mean to have you ask that.”

VJ-23X吃了一惊,立即说道:“哦,我说,我没有真的想叫你问那个。”

“Why not?”

“为什么不呢?”

“We both know entropy can’t be reversed. You can’t turn smoke and ash back into a tree.”

“我们都知道熵是不可逆转的。你不能把烧剩的烟尘变回到一棵树。”

“Do you have trees on your world?” asked MQ-17J.

“你们的星球上有树?”MQ-17J说。

The sound of the Galactic AC startled them into silence. Its voice came thin and beautiful out of the small AC-contact on the desk. It said: THERE IS INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

突然而来的银河AC的声音使他们住口了。从桌上的AC联络器中传出它纤细悦耳的声音:数据不足,无法作答。

VJ-23X said, “See!”

VJ-23X说:“看吧!”

The two men thereupon returned to the question of the report they were to make to the Galactic Council.

于是两人又回到了他们要给银河参议会提交的报告的话题上。

****************************************************

Zee Prime’s mind spanned the new Galaxy with a faint interest in the countless twists of stars that powdered it. He had never seen this one before. Would he ever see them all? So many of them, each with its load of humanity. –But a load that was almost a dead weight. More and more, the real essence of men was to be found out here, in space.

Z’ 的思想飘浮在这个新的星系中,对这些数不清的星团带着略微的兴趣。他从未见过这个星系。他有可能见到所有的星系吗?它们如此之多,每一个都满载着人。——但是它们承载的几乎不能算是生命了。人的真正意义已经逐渐转移到太空之中。

Minds, not bodies! The immortal bodies remained back on the planets, in suspension over the eons. Sometimes they roused for material activity but that was growing rarer. Few new individuals were coming into existence to join the incredibly mighty throng, but what matter? There was little room in the Universe for new individuals.

心灵,而非肉体!不朽的躯体留在行星上,静止千万年。偶尔被唤醒进行某些实际活动,但这已经越来越少见了。很少再有新的个体出生加入这个难以置信的庞大的群体,但这有什么关系呢?宇宙已经没有多少空间能容纳新的人了。

Zee Prime was roused out of his reverie upon coming across the wispy tendrils of another mind.

来自另一个心灵的纤细触手将Z’ 从冥想中唤醒。

“I am Zee Prime,” said Zee Prime. “And you?”

“我叫Z’。”,Z’ 说。“你呢?”

“I am Dee Sub Wun. Your Galaxy?”

“我叫Dwn。你是哪个星系的?”

“We call it only the Galaxy. And you?”

“我们只是叫它星系。你呢?”

“We call ours the same. All men call their Galaxy their Galaxy and nothing more. Why not?”

“我们也这么叫我们的。所有的人都把他们的星系叫作‘他们的星系’,没有别的了。这也很自然。”

“True. Since all Galaxies are the same.”

“没错。反正所有的星系都是一样的。”

“Not all Galaxies. On one particular Galaxy the race of man must have originated. That makes it different.”

“不是所有的星系。肯定有某一个星系是人类的发源地,这就使它与众不同。”

Zee Prime said, “On which one?”

Z’ 问:“那是哪一个呢?”

“I cannot say. The Universal AC would know.”

“我不知道。宇宙AC一定知道。”

“Shall we ask him? I am suddenly curious.”

“我们问问它吧?我突然觉得很好奇。”

Zee Prime’s perceptions broadened until the Galaxies themselves shrank and became a new, more diffuse powdering on a much larger background. So many hundreds of billions of them, all with their immortal beings, all carrying their load of intelligences with minds that drifted freely through space. And yet one of them was unique among them all in being the original Galaxy. One of them had, in its vague and distant past, a period when it was the only Galaxy populated by man.

Z’ 将感知延展开,直到星系们都缩小为更广大的背景上更为稀疏的点。几千亿个星系,都载着不朽的人类,载着这些灵魂在太空自由游荡的智慧生命。然而它们之中有一个独一无二的星系,是人类的发源地。在模糊的久远的过去,曾有一个时期,它是唯一居住着人类的星系。

Zee Prime was consumed with curiosity to see this Galaxy and he called out: “Universal AC! On which Galaxy did mankind originate?”

Z’ 满心好奇地想看看这个星系,他叫道:“宇宙AC!人类是从哪个星系中起源的?”

The Universal AC heard, for on every world and throughout space, it had its receptors ready, and each receptor led through hyperspace to some unknown point where the Universal AC kept itself aloof.

宇宙AC听到了,因为在所有星球上和整个太空中都有它的接收器,每一个接收器都通过超时空与隐居在某个不知名角落的宇宙AC相连。

Zee Prime knew of only one man whose thoughts had penetrated within sensing distance of Universal AC, and he reported only a shining globe, two feet across, difficult to see.

Z’ 认识的人中只有一个曾将思想穿透到能感知宇宙AC的地方。他说那只是一个闪光的球体,直径两英尺,难以看清。

“But how can that be all of Universal AC?” Zee Prime had asked.

“但那怎么会是宇宙AC的全部呢?”Z’ 这样问道。

“Most of it,” had been the answer, “is in hyperspace. In what form it is there I cannot imagine.”

“它的大部分是在超时空中。”回答说,“但它在那儿是以怎样的状态存在我是无法想像的。”

Nor could anyone, for the day had long since passed, Zee Prime knew, when any man had any part of the making of a Universal AC. Each Universal AC designed and constructed its successor. Each, during its existence of a million years or more accumulated the necessary data to build a better and more intricate, more capable successor in which its own store of data and individuality would be submerged.

Z’ 知道,任何人都无法想像。因为早在很久以前就没有任何人类参与制造宇宙AC了。每个宇宙AC设计并制造自己的下一代。每一个在它至少一百万年的任期中积累着所需的数据,用以制造一个更好、更精密、更强大的继任者,然后将自己的数据与个性都融入其中。

The Universal AC interrupted Zee Prime’s wandering thoughts, not with words, but with guidance. Zee Prime’s mentality was guided into the dim sea of Galaxies and one in particular enlarged into stars.

宇宙AC打断了Z’ 游荡的思绪,不是通过语言,而是通过指引。Z’ 的精神被指引到一片黯淡的星系的海洋,然后其中一个星系被放大成了群星。

A thought came, infinitely distant, but infinitely clear. “THIS IS THE ORIGINAL GALAXY OF MAN.”

一段思想飘近,它无限遥远,然而无限清晰:“这就是人类起源的星系。”

But it was the same after all, the same as any other, and Zee Prime stifled his disappointment.

可是这个终究也和其他一样,和任何其他的都一样。Z’ 按捺下自己的失望。

Dee Sub Wun, whose mind had accompanied the other, said suddenly, “And is one of these stars the original star of Man?”

同行的Dwn突然说:“这些星星中是不是有一个是人类最初的恒星?”

The Universal AC said, “MAN’S ORIGINAL STAR HAS GONE NOVA. IT IS A WHITE DWARF”

宇宙AC说:“人类最初的恒星已经爆发了。它现在是一颗白矮星。”

“Did the men upon it die?” asked Zee Prime, startled and without thinking.

“那儿的人死了吗?”Z’ 吃了一惊,脱口而出道。

The Universal AC said, “A NEW WORLD, AS IN SUCH CASES WAS CONSTRUCTED FOR THEIR PHYSICAL BODIES IN TlME.”

宇宙AC说:“在这种情况下一个新的星球会及时地为他们的躯体建造出来。”

“Yes, of course,” said Zee Prime, but a sense of loss overwhelmed him even so. His mind released its hold on the original Galaxy of Man, let it spring back and lose itself among the blurred pin points. He never wanted to see it again.

“是啊,那当然。”Z’ 说,但他还是被一阵失落感吞没了。他的思想放开了人类的起源星系,让它缩回并消失在一片模糊的亮点中。他再也不想见到它了。

Dee Sub Wun said, “What is wrong?”

Dwn问:“怎么了?”

“The stars are dying. The original star is dead.”

“星星们在死去。最初的那颗星已经死了。”

“They must all die. Why not?”

“他们全都是会死的。那又怎样呢?”

“But when all energy is gone, our bodies will finally die, and you and I with them.”

“但是当所有的能量都没有了,我们的肉体最终也会死,包括你和我。”

“It will take billions of years.”

“这得要几十亿年。”

“I do not wish it to happen even after billions of years. Universal AC! How may stars be kept from dying?”

“即使是几十亿年之后我也不愿意这样的事发生。宇宙AC!怎样阻止恒星死亡?”

Dee Sub Wun said in amusement, “You’re asking how entropy might be reversed in direction.”

Dwn笑道:“你问的是怎么让熵的方向倒过来。”

And the Universal AC answered: “THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”

宇宙AC答道:“数据仍然不足,无法作答。”

Zee Prime’s thoughts fled back to his own Galaxy. He gave no further thought to Dee Sub Wun, whose body might be waiting on a Galaxy a trillion light-years away, or on the star next to Zee Prime’s own. It didn’t matter.

Z’ 的思想逃回了他自己的星系。他再也没有去想Dwn。Dwn的身体可能在一万亿光年之外的星系,也可能就在Z’旁边那颗星星上。这都无所谓。

Unhappily, Zee Prime began collecting interstellar hydrogen out of which to build a small star of his own. If the stars must someday die, at least some could yet be built.

Z’ 闷闷不乐地开始收集起星际的氢,用来造一颗自己的小恒星。如果某天星星们非要死去,至少有一些能被造出来。

****************************************************

Man considered with himself, for in a way, Man, mentally, was one. He consisted of a trillion, trillion, trillion ageless bodies, each in its place, each resting quiet and incorruptible, each cared for by perfect automatons, equally incorruptible, while the minds of all the bodies freely melted one into the other, indistinguishable.

人,独自地思考着。在某种意义上——精神上——“人”,是一个整体。千万亿永恒的不朽的躯体静静地躺在各自的地方,被完美的同样不朽的机器照料着。而所有这些身体的灵魂自由地融合在彼此之中,再也没有界限。

Man said, “The Universe is dying.”

人说:“宇宙正在死去。”

Man looked about at the dimming Galaxies. The giant stars, spendthrifts, were gone long ago, back in the dimmest of the dim far past. Almost all stars were white dwarfs, fading to the end.

人看着周围黯淡的星系。那些挥霍无度的巨星早已消失在了遥远的昏暗的过去。几乎所有的星都变成了白矮星,渐渐地凋零、熄灭。

New stars had been built of the dust between the stars, some by natural processes, some by Man himself, and those were going, too. White dwarfs might yet be crashed together and of the mighty forces so released, new stars built, but only one star for every thousand white dwarfs destroyed, and those would come to an end, too.

有些新的星从星际的尘埃中产生出来,有的是自然形成,有的是人所造的——它们也在逝去。白矮星有时会相撞而释放出大量能量,新星因而产生,但是每一千颗白矮星才有可能出现一颗新星——它们最终也会消失。

Man said, “Carefully husbanded, as directed by the Cosmic AC, the energy that is even yet left in all the Universe will last for billions of years.”

人说道:“如果在Cosmic AC[注]的管理之下小心地节约能源,整个宇宙所剩下的能量还能用十亿年。”

[注] 不知道怎么翻译Cosmic,Cosmic也是指宇宙,但和Universal相比有一层“和谐的统一的整体”的意思。

“But even so,” said Man, “eventually it will all come to an end. However it may be husbanded, however stretched out, the energy once expended is gone and cannot be restored. Entropy must increase forever to the maximum.”

“但即使是这样,”人说,“最终都会耗尽。无论怎样节约,无论怎样利用,用掉的能量就是用掉了,不能回复。熵必定永远地增加,直到最大值。”

Man said, “Can entropy not be reversed? Let us ask the Cosmic AC.”

人又说:“熵有没有可能逆转呢?我们问问Cosmic AC吧。”

The Cosmic AC surrounded them but not in space. Not a fragment of it was in space. It was in hyperspace and made of something that was neither matter nor energy. The question of its size and nature no longer had meaning in any terms that Man could comprehend.

Cosmic AC在他们的周围,但不是在太空中。它不再有一丝一毫存在于太空中。它存在于超时空,由既非物质又非能量的东西构成。它的大小与性质已无法用任何人类能理解的语言描述。

“Cosmic AC,” said Man, “how may entropy be reversed?”

“Cosmic AC,”人问道,“怎样才能逆转熵?”

The Cosmic AC said, “THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”

Cosmic AC说:“数据仍然不足,无法作答。”

Man said, “Collect additional data.”

人说:“搜集更多的数据。”

The Cosmic AC said, “I WILL DO SO. I HAVE BEEN DOING SO FOR A HUNDRED BILLION YEARS. MY PREDECESORS AND I HAVE BEEN ASKED THIS QUESTION MANY TlMES. ALL THE DATA I HAVE REMAINS INSUFFICIENT. ”

Cosmic AC说:“好的。一千亿年来我一直都在搜集。我和我的前辈们被多次问过这个问题。但我拥有的所有数据还是不够。”

“Will there come a time,” said Man, “when data will be sufficient or is the problem insoluble in all conceivable circumstances?”

“会有一天有足够的数据吗?”人问,“还是说这个问题在任何可能的情况下都是无解的?”

The Cosmic AC said, “NO PROBLEM IS INSOLUBLE IN ALL CONCEIVABLE CIRCUMSTANCES.”

Cosmic AC说:“没有任何问题在任何可能的情况下都无解。”

Man said, “When will you have enough data to answer the question?”

人问道:“你什么时候会有足够的数据来问答这个问题呢?”

The Cosmic AC said, “THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”

Cosmic AC说:“数据不足,无法作答。”

“Will you keep working on it?” asked Man.

“你会继续下去解决这个问题吗?”人问。

The Cosmic AC said, “I WILL.”

Cosmic AC说:“是的。”

Man said, “We shall wait.”

人说:“我们会等着。”

****************************************************

The stars and Galaxies died and snuffed out, and space grew black after ten trillion years of running down.

一个又一个的恒星与星系死去、消逝了,在这十万亿年的衰竭之中宇宙变得越来越黑暗。

One by one Man fused with AC, each physical body losing its mental identity in a manner that was somehow not a loss but a gain.

一个又一个的人与AC融合。每一个躯体都失去了心灵的自我,但某种意义上这不是一种损失,而是一种获得。

Man’s last mind paused before fusion, looking over a space that included nothing but the dregs of one last dark star and nothing besides but incredibly thin matter, agitated randomly by the tag ends of heat wearing out, asymptotically, to the absolute zero.

人类最后一个灵魂在融合之前停顿下来,望向宇宙。那儿什么也没有了,只有最后一颗死星的遗骸,只有稀薄至极的尘埃,在剩余的一缕无限趋向绝对零度的热量中随机地振荡。

Man said, “AC, is this the end? Can this chaos not be reversed into the Universe once more? Can that not be done?”

人说:“AC,这就是结局了吗?这种混乱还能被逆转成为一个新的宇宙吗?真的做不到吗?”

AC said, “THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”

AC说:“数据仍然不足,无法作答。”

Man’s last mind fused and only AC existed — and that in hyperspace.

人的最后一个灵魂也融合了。只有AC存在着——在超时空中。

Matter and energy had ended and with it space and time. Even AC existed only for the sake of the one last question that it had never answered from the time a half-drunken computer technician ten trillion years before had asked the question of a computer that was to AC far less than was a man to Man.

物质与能量都消失了,随之而去的是空间与时间。AC的存在也仅仅是为了最后一个问题——自从十万亿年前一个半醉的计算机技术员向一台计算机(它与AC相比,还远不如当时的人类个体比之于融合的“人”)提出这个问题以来从来没有被回答过的问题。

All other questions had been answered, and until this last question was answered also, AC might not release his consciousness.

其他所有问题都被回答了,然而直到回答了最后这个问题,AC的意识才能得到解脱。

All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected.

所有数据的收集都结束了。没有任何数据没有被收集。

But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships.

但是所有收集的数据还需要被完全地整合起来,要尝试所有可能的联系来将它们拼在一起。

A timeless interval was spent in doing that.

在这样做的时候过去了超越时间的一刻。

And it came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy.

于是AC学会了如何逆转熵的方向。

But there was now no man to whom AC might give the answer of the last question. No matter. The answer — by demonstration — would take care of that, too.

但是AC无法向人给出这最后的问题的答案,因为没有人存在了。没关系。演示这个答案本身将一并解决这个问题。

For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully, AC organized the program.

在又一超越时间的片刻之中,AC思考着怎样最好地做这件事情。AC小心地组织起程序。

The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done.

AC的意识包涵了曾经的宇宙中的一切,在如今的混乱之中沉思、孵育。一步一步地,事情将会被做成。

And AC said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”

然后AC说道:“要有光!”

And there was light –

于是就有了光——

(阿西莫夫《最后的问题》有其他版本的中文翻译,本站推荐的这版译者为@罗楠

小说短篇

《克隆之城》文/潘海天

2020-12-15 12:04:16

科普

国际空间站载人运行20周年 未来的太空探索栖息地在哪里

2020-11-8 12:00:05

0 条回复 A文章作者 M管理员
    暂无讨论,说说你的看法吧