(Found) Time travel short story where past is void and future is unformed matter

M. Robert Gibson

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I'm looking for the title and author of this short story. The premise is that the main character invents a time machine, but when he travels to the past, there is nothing but void and when he travels to the future there is nothing but chaotic, unformed matter.

The conclusion of the time traveller is that the present is like a train on a single track using the unformed matter of the future to create existence in the present, and once the matter has been used it leaves nothing behind, hence the void of the past.

The story was in an anthology and was probably written anytime up to and including the 1980s, but not later. I can't remember if it was an anthology from just one author or several.

I have checked the Wikipedia page List of time travel works of fiction (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_time_travel_works_of_fiction) but the premise doesn't appear to be there.

I've also tried searching The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (isfdb.org/cgi-bin/tag.cgi?71) but with not much information to go on, my advanced searches were fruitless.

I don't want to send people off on the wrong track but I have a vague feeling the story is either one of Michael Moorcock's or in an anthology he edited.

Please note I have also asked this question on scifi.stackexchange.com (scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/178323/time-travel-short-story-where-past-is-blank-and-future-is-unformed-matter)
 

PaulMmn

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The time travel aspect reminds me of "Time Is The Simplest Thing," by Clifford Simak. The time travel aspect is important, but not the main point of the book. In this book, the past is not a void, but the shell of the world-- dirt exists, but things built by man exist only as ghosts-- images you can walk through, but not touch. The future is the unformed 'nothingness.'

Although it didn't involve time travel per se, the story "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" is a novella by Robert A. Heinlein. There is an episode in the story reminiscent of the 'unformed matter.'

--Paul E Musselman
 

M. Robert Gibson

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The time travel aspect reminds me of "Time Is The Simplest Thing," by Clifford Simak. The time travel aspect is important, but not the main point of the book. In this book, the past is not a void, but the shell of the world-- dirt exists, but things built by man exist only as ghosts-- images you can walk through, but not touch. The future is the unformed 'nothingness.'

Although it didn't involve time travel per se, the story "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" is a novella by Robert A. Heinlein. There is an episode in the story reminiscent of the 'unformed matter.'

--Paul E Musselman
"Time Is The Simplest Thing," could be the story. It has some the elements I remember, but I do recall some sort of machine was involved. Of course the passage of time and my memory tends to make things hazy.
 

PaulMmn

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"Time is the Simplest Thing" involves what were called "Star Machines--" these were, for lack of a better term, 'psychic amplifiers' that enabled trained persons to explore the galaxy. They sent their personality exploring, accompanied by a recording machine. The organization Fishhook, located in Mexico, has a monopoly on the Star Machines, and the technology gleaned from the explorations of their employees. Our Hero meets The Pinkness... and goes alien.
 

2DaveWixon

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Definitely not Time Is The Simplest Thing.
You're right about that. And for that matter, I'll throw in that although Cliff Simak wrote a lot of time travel stories, none of them (I've read them all) were the one we're searching for...
 

nixie

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Not what your looking for as there is no time machine involved but it does sound similar a Stephen King story . The Langoliers, it's been a few years since I read it may be little out with some of details.
A plane gets caught a storm, lands in an airport with no sign of life realise they are in past and it is being erased into oblivion. They finally get back to their own time although a few minutes ahead, it's a sterile place, gradually time catches up and life emerges.
 

2DaveWixon

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I remember that one, but only from the movie version -- so while I don't think that's the story we're looking for, my answer isn't really very useful, since the written story might have been quite different from the movie...
 

monkeypooper

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I remember that one, but only from the movie version -- so while I don't think that's the story we're looking for, my answer isn't really very useful, since the written story might have been quite different from the movie...
When isn't it just money for screenwriters so many books ruined through the years here's hoping Forever war when or if it's made (haven't heard about it for awhile) isn't ruined.

John Spaihts is doing it so far he's done Passengers, Doctor Strange, Prometheus but I haven't read them so unsure if he did the books proud although I did love the former and latter not keen on doctor strange though not really keen on Marvel and D.C
 
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J Riff

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Should be easy to check Moorcock anthologies. Are you sure is was a full-on SF antholgy? Nothing Lovecraftian, or fantasy-based about it?
 

M. Robert Gibson

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Should be easy to check Moorcock anthologies. Are you sure is was a full-on SF antholgy? Nothing Lovecraftian, or fantasy-based about it?
I've done a fair bit of rooting around the internet and I found a list of Moorcock short stories here eclipse.co.uk/sweetdespise/moorcock/bib/short/ and there's one called 'Time Drop' published in the 1965 edition of Boy's World Annual, but I can't find a synopsis anywhere.

And again it might not have been Moorcock but my memory playing tricks. A friend has suggested it might be Ray Bradbury. The plot thickens!
 

M. Robert Gibson

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Mystery solved! It's Escape From Evening which can be read in almost its entirety here scribd.com/document/23287223/The-Time-Dweller-Dusk-Had-Come-to-the-Universe-Albeit. The credit for solving it has to go to the person who answered my question on scifi.stackexchange.com/.

The extract on scribd finishes before it gets to the part that I remembered, but a friend of mine has a copy of The Time Dweller and has confirmed it's the one
 
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