Letter to a Phoenix


"Letter to a Phoenix" is a science fiction short story by American writer Fredric Brown, about immortality. It was first published in Astounding Science Fiction in August 1949.

Plot summary

A 180,000-year-old man writes a letter to humanity as a whole, explaining the lessons he has learned while observing the rise and fall of multiple civilizations.


Literary scholar Jack Seabrook has described it as "(t)hought-provoking rather than exciting" and "perhaps (the) best" of Brown's stories focusing on "social or political commentary".[1] James Nicoll, however, writing in 2018, felt that the story "has not aged well."[2]

Vernor Vinge has said that he was "fascinated" by the story, and that it was the direct inspiration for the 1975 story "The Peddler's Apprentice" which he co-wrote with his then-wife, Joan D. Vinge.[3]


  1. ^ Martians and Misplaced Clues: The Life and Work of Fredric Brown, by Jack Seabrook; published 1993 by Popular Press
  2. ^ A Survey of Some of the Best Science Fiction Ever Published (Thanks to Judy-Lynn Del Rey), by James Nicoll, at Tor.com; published August 13, 2018; retrieved August 16, 2018
  3. ^ Introduction to "The Peddler's Apprentice" in The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge, by Vernor Vinge, published 2002 by Tor Books