Saturday, September 12, 2020

Stories about Time Viewers

We were discussing T. L. Sherred's "E for Effort" in a group recently, and that brought to mind this list I put together long ago of stories about time viewers. It was on my old website, but that's long gone now, so I figure I'd repost it here. It's striking how many of these are favorite stories of mine. Some of these aren't really about "viewing" the past but listening to it, or "experiencing" it through someone's sensorium.

Brian W. Aldiss, An Age, 1967, Also known as Cryptozoic!

Brian W. Aldiss, "Not for an Age", 1955, Future viewing our present

Poul Anderson, "The Long Remembering", 1957, Neolithic, * (The "viewing" is by "remembering" the experiences of an ancestor.)

Poul Anderson, "The Bog Sword", 2004,Bronze Age, *(A "sequel" to "The Long Remembering".)

Isaac Asimov, "The Dead Past", 1956, Classical/Recent Past, *(My favorite Asimov story, for what it's worth. And to detail the exact period it refers to is a spoiler.)

Gregory Benford, "Time Shards", 1979, Medieval, *This is actually about hearing the past, rather than seeing it.

Stephen L. Burns, "Showdown at Hell Creek", 1993, Dinosaurs,*

Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, The Light of Other Days, 2000, Near past (and other times),.

Gardner Dozois, "A Night of Ghosts and Shadows", 1999, Far future viewing near future, *

Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann, "Time Bride", 1983, Near future viewing present,.

Raymond Eich, "Evidence of Things Seen", 1998, Jesus, *

Phyllis Eisenstein, "In the Western Tradition", 1981, Old West, * (Another particular favorite of mine)

Harry Harrison, "The Secret of Stonehenge", 1968, Ancient Britain,.

Gardner Hunting, The Vicarion, 1926, All history

Rudyard Kipling, "'The Finest Story in the World'", 1891, many historical periods, * (This is really about "remembering" in detail historical event via one's ancestor's memories)

Damon Knight, "I See You", 1976, Near Past and All Time, *

Sean McMullen, "Wheel of Echoes", 2020, Shakespeare, * (like Benford's "Time Shards", it turns on recording of historical speakers on clay)

Judith Moffett, "Final Tomte", 1990, Decades in the past of the near future, * (This story and others that use the same idea are part of her novels The Ragged World and Time, Like and Ever Rolling Stream. A separate story in the same series, "The Bear's Baby" (2003), uses the time window idea prominently as well.)

Rebecca Ore, "Scarey Rose in Deep History", 1997, Historical Past (19th Century), *

Lewis Padgett, "Private Eye", 1949, Immediate Past, * (Padgett is a pseudonym for Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore. I seem to recall that this is regarded as predominantly by Kuttner, though with them, who knows for sure?)

Lawrence Person, "Crucifixion Variations", 1998, Jesus,*

Robert Reed, "Killing the Morrow", 1996,*

Mack Reynolds, Perchance to Dream, 1997, Early Roman, (Not true past viewing: computer reconstruction.)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, "June Sixteenth at Anna's", 2003, Fairly recent past, *

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, "Collateral Damage", 2004, A few centuries into the past, *

William Sanders, "Dirty Little Cowards", 1999, Historical Past (19th Century), *Actually instead of just viewing the past, "experiencing" it through the sensorium of an historical character.

Bob Shaw, "Light of Other Days", 1968, Near Past, * (A true classic. Shaw assembled this and some related stories into the novel Other Days, Other Eyes.)

T. L. Sherred, "E for Effort", 1947, Many Historical Events, *(In the SF Hall of Fame, another great story)

John Stith, Scapescope, 1984

John Taine, Before the Dawn, 1934, Dinosaurs,.

Wilson Tucker, "Time Exposures", 1971

Zoran Zivkovic, "The Paleolinguist", 1997, Hearing early humans, *


  1. Wow, that's some list. You should add these to the entry in Wikipedia.

  2. Re: Judith Moffett. What you may not be aware of is that there is a third volume to her series that includes The Ragged World and Time, Like an Ever Rolling Stream. This third (and final) novel was published 16 years later and is titled The Bird Shaman. You should check this one out! (And you can actually purchase the book -- signed! -- directly from the author's website:

  3. Then there's Bob Leman's "Window," which starts out LOOKING like a time viewer story and then gets weirder....

    1. Yeah, hard to decide if it's proper to list that as a "time viewer" story ... Leman only wrote about 15 stories (SF stories, anyway) but that story will probably keep him remembered for a long time.

  4. There's one in Childhood's End, if I recall. Just mentioned in passing -- it's how the Overlords cured humanity of religion.

  5. What do the asterisks indicate?

    See also, "You're Another" by Damon Knight.

    1. Asterisks mean I've read the story. Which is true of "You're Another", so obviously I don't remember that well!

    2. One of the few examples I've read told from the perspective of the observed rather than the observers.

  6. It's been a while since I've read it by George Zebrowski's “The History Machine” (1972) and “The Cliometricon” (1975) *might* work. They're more about a machine recording history and then it's viewed by a historian.... I enjoyed both. Perhaps Zebrowski's best short work (of what I've read so far). Both are reviewed on my site. I'm not sure they fit your definition though.

    1. Thanks ... I haven't read those stories but they look interesting if perhaps not quite what I'm looking for. I'll try to find a copy, though. Your review puts a finger on what's long bothered my about Zebrowski -- intriguing ideas but prose I just could not get on with.