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The plot was that people from the future did extensive research and then made one small change to the past (like moving an object from one side of a room to another) that resulted in a major shift in the future story arc.

Any ideas would be most welcome!­

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In Asimov's The End of Eternity (1955) the timeline-changing Eternals pride themselves on making the Minimum Necessary Change to bring about their desired results. In one example in the book this consists of moving a container from one shelf in a cupboard to another.

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    A great book and title! – Jeel Shah Dec 14 '15 at 15:30
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    @Organic Marble: Thank you!! Yes, it is The End of Eternity. I've already started reading it and am loving it all over again. – Ellen Dec 15 '15 at 13:52
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    Glad that was it! Please accept the answer by clicking on the checkmark on the left! – Organic Marble Dec 15 '15 at 13:57
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Not a full book but a really great short story that has spawned many movies and spin offs.A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury. This short story was published in 1953. I know outside your time frame but a classic staple of all Sci-Fi collections.

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    I don't think it can be this, there was no "extensive research" in A Sound of Thunder; it was about a hamfisted accident by one clumsy poltroon. – Whelkaholism Dec 14 '15 at 16:44
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    I only added that comment because I had a sudden desire to use the word "poltroon". – Whelkaholism Dec 14 '15 at 16:44
  • @Whelkaholism It's a good word. – David Conrad Dec 14 '15 at 21:07
  • @Rachel_eh: I've added it to my reading list. Thanks. – Ellen Dec 15 '15 at 13:52

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