“Life-Line,” Robert A. Heinlein, 1939 – Professor Pinero invents a machine that will predict the date and manner of one’s death, but the scientific community is skeptical of the machine and the scientist’s ethics. The machine works “by sending a signal along the world line of a person and detecting the echo from the far end. Professor Pinero’s invention has a powerful impact on the life insurance industry, as well as on his own life.” (Wikipedia)
Comments: Heinlein’s first published story. Has become a well-known thought experiment in the mainstream. Read in Great Science Fiction Stories of 1939.
Author: Wikipedia: “Robert Anson Heinlein…(July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called the “dean of science fiction writers,” he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre in his time. He set a standard for scientific and engineering plausibility, and helped to raise the genre’s standards of literary quality. He was one of the first science fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science fiction novelists for many decades. He, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are known as the ‘Big Three’ of science fiction.”