I once read about a story in which, by a series of unlikely manoeuvres of time travel and a sex change operation, one person (originally a girl) managed to be her own mother and father. IIRC, she was brought up in an orphanage, travelled back in time to father a child (herself) with a near-stranger in a bar, then later became a man and travelled back in time to impregnate a near-stranger (him/herself) in a bar.

Unfortunately, because I only heard about the story and never actually read it, I have no idea whether it's a novel or short story, when and in what language it was written, what it looked like, etc. Hopefully the plotline will be distinctive enough to enable someone to find it!

  • Well, wow! Three answers all within 4 seconds of each other :-O
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 2:37
  • 3
    I promise I did not use time travel. Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 2:38
  • 6
    @Mike Plot twist: all three answerers are actually the same person!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 2:40
  • For the record, now that I know the author and title, I could easily find the place I'd heard of it before: puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/12894/all-you-zombies
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 3:02
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    All You Zombies is the only time paradox story you'll ever need to read. Heinlein retired the trophy. There's never been any need to write another.
    – davidbak
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 6:26

3 Answers 3


It sounds like the movie Predestination, which is also based on a novel (see other answers).

The main character, a time traveler, is revealed to be a hermaphrodite. A Barkeep meets a man, John, that reveals that he was raised in an orphanage and as a girl. She had a child with a man she knew, but disappeared from her life.

The child, the Barkeep, John and Jane are all the same person, at different points in their own timeline.

So, the woman didn't meet a man she barely knew in a bar and have a child with them, but there is a main plot point about the character meeting a man in a bar.

This timeline image shows the loop of their life, plus their other identity:

enter image description here

  • 3
    I spent a whole minute thinking "Barkeep" was an Indian name ... definitely time for bed. Upvotes all round!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 2:43
  • @randal'thor Sorry. I capitalized it because in the discussions around the movie, which are man, that's the "name" given to the character, as evidenced by the image. Get some sleep!
    – user31178
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 2:46

'—All You Zombies—'  is a short story written by Robert Heinlein. It has also been made into a movie Predestination.

  • And arguably the greatest time travel story ever. Possible rivals Primer and Coherence Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 18:15
  • I was running circles when I watched Primer.
    – Apoorv
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 20:12

It's Robert Heinlein's All You Zombies, published in 1959.


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