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Help with identify this story please?

An alien race (anthropologists) visit earth and find all life extinct. They find a way to recreate life up to a certain point in the past timeline. As they move the recreation point closer and closer to present day, they encounter more advanced humans. The initial humans are confused, the later ones are able to understand the situation more easily and the last/most recent one understands the whole situation in the blink of an eye and disappears instantly (hence going out of the aliens control).

marked as duplicate by user14111 story-identification Nov 19 '15 at 4:18

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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I believe you're thinking of "Resurrection" aka "The Monster", a famous short story by A. E. van Vogt which was also the answer to this old question and this one and this one and this one and this one; first published in Astounding Science Fiction, August 1948, available at the Internet Archive. However, van Vogt's aliens are not exactly "anthropologists", they are looking for planets to colonize. And they do not visit different earths; they visit one earth, in the far future, and revive one dead earthman after another, in chronological order, starting with an Egyptian mummy. Their purpose is to find out what caused the mass extinction of life on earth, before moving their own people in.

An alien race (anthropologists) visit earth and find all life extinct. They find a way to recreate life up to a certain point in the past timeline.

"Do you think we ought to use our method of reviving the long dead?"

Youl was thoughtful. "I have been asking questions of the various people who have landed, and there is something wrong here. This planet has no surviving life, not even insect life. We'll have to find out what happened before we risk any colonization."

As they move the recreation point closer and closer to present day, they encounter more advanced humans. The initial humans are confused,

A man blinked, and opened his eyes.

"It is true, then," he said aloud, and the words were translated into the Ganae tongue as he spoke them. "Death is merely an opening into another life—but where are my attendants?" At the end, his voice took on a complaining tone.

He sat up, and climbed out of the case, which had automatically opened as he came to life. He saw his captors. He froze, but only for a moment. He had a pride and a very special arrogant courage, which served him now. Reluctantly, he sank to his knees and made obeisance, but doubt must have been strong in him. "Am I in the presence of the gods of Egyptus?" He climbed to his feet. "What nonsense is this? I do not bow to nameless demons."

the later ones are able to understand the situation more easily

The third man sat up, and looked at them thoughtfully. "From the stars?" he said finally. "Have you a system, or was it blind chance?"

The Ganae councilors in that domed room stirred uneasily in their curved chairs. Enash caught Yoal's eye on him. The shock in the historian's eyes alarmed the meteorologist. He thought: "The two-legged one's adjustment to a new situation, his grasp of realities, was unnormally rapid. No Ganae could have equalled the swiftness of his reaction."

and the last/most recent one understands the whole situation in the blink of an eye and disappears instantly (hence going out of the aliens control).

Captain Gorsid waved at the biologist, "Proceed," he said, "with the revival."

To Enash, he said, "Do we dare return to Gana, and recommend mass migrations—and then admit that we did not actually complete our investigations here? It's impossible, my friend."

It was the old argument, but reluctantly now Enash admitted there was something to be said for that point of view. He forgot that, for the fourth man was stirring.

The man sat up and vanished.

There was a blank, startled, horrified silence. Then Captain Gorsid said harshly, "He can't get out of there. We know that. He's in there somewhere."

All around Enash, the Ganae were out of their chairs, peering into the energy shell. The guards stood with ray guns held limply in their suckers. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw one of the protective screen technicians beckon to Veed, who went over. He came back grim. "I'm told the needles jumped ten points when he first disappeared. That's on the nucleonic level."

"By ancient Ganae!" Shuri whispered. "We've run into what we've always feared."

  • Sound cool, a must read – Escoce Nov 18 '15 at 21:14
  • Awesome! Thank you for the detailed and very helpful identification/explanation of the story. And I wiill try and search the archives more thoroughly before posting repeats in the future.. – javadesigner Nov 19 '15 at 1:59
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    @javadesigner You're welcome! I mentioned the old questions for the record, and because I thought it interesting that this particular story is so popular and memorable that six different people have asked about it. I did not mean to imply that you should have scoured the archives before asking. The easiest way to find out if it's answered in the archives is to just post the question; if it's come up before you'll probably get an answer in short order because someone will remember it. And it's a lot easier to find it in the archives once you know the title. – user14111 Nov 20 '15 at 9:51

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