A sci fi anthology had a short story about a time traveler who invented a machine that may have caused a catastrophic event by its use. The traveler from the future showed up to the front porch of his earlier self to warn his earlier self of the impending doom. The world on the horizon behind the future self was being consumed. The earlier self asked the future self just how far into the future he had come with his time machine. "About five minutes..." the man on the porch said, "Not far enough."

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    Sounds like a good story. I'd love to read it.
    – Elliot A.
    Jan 18, 2016 at 0:46
  • Sounds like a very good story. If you're looking for an identification, it would be helpful to have such details as when you read it, anything you can recall about the anthology, and so on.
    – Megha
    Jan 18, 2016 at 1:08
  • @user14111 Unless it has since been deleted, I don't see an affirmation from the OP that this is a duplicate of the linked question. Considering neither question has an accepted or confirmed answer I don't see why this one was closed.
    – Xantec
    Mar 11, 2016 at 23:38
  • @Xantec Looks like it was closed by mistake. Don't know what I was thinking when I voted to close it. Voted to reopen.
    – user14111
    Mar 11, 2016 at 23:49

1 Answer 1


"The Man from When" by Dannie Plachta, previously identified as the answer to this question. You can read it at bestshortstories.org. It was first published in If, July 1966 which is available at the Internet Archive (click here for download options). The anthology you read it in was probably 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories or The Young Oxford Book of Timewarp Stories or World's Best Science Fiction: 1967. You might recognize one of these covers.

You remember a couple of details wrong. The man from the future shows up at the door of a stranger, not his past self. The final exchange goes like this:

"Yes. You see, there was such an expenditure of energy that it completely wiped out the Earth of my time. The force blasted me all the way through space to this spot. By the way, I am sorry if I disturbed you."

"It was nothing, nothing at all. Forget it."

"Well, in any event, I took the chance and I'm not sorry. A calculated risk, but I proved my point. In spite of everything, I still think it was worth it. What do you think?"

"Well, as you said, you took the chance; you proved your point. I suppose it was worth it. Smith took a final drink, saving a few glimmering drops for his guest. "By the way, how far from the future did you travel?"

The time traveler grabbed the gin bottle and consulted his watch. "Eighteen minutes," he replied.

"It wasn't worth it," said Smith.

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    I'm not sure why the time traveler's watch would tell him how far back he'd traveled.
    – user14111
    Jan 18, 2016 at 4:00
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    At least for now, the story is available online at bestshortstories.org/man-from-when Jan 18, 2016 at 6:52
  • @Quuxplusone Thanks for the link.
    – user14111
    Jan 18, 2016 at 8:55
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    @user14111 perhaps there was a clock on the wall as well, and he took the difference.
    – N. Virgo
    Jan 18, 2016 at 8:58
  • @Nathaniel That must be it. Why didn't I think of that. I suppose he already had a rough estimate, so he knew it wasn't 24 hours 18 minutes. The 18 minutes would have been kinda fuzzy because people don't always keep their wall clocks accurate to the minute. Hmm. I wonder if there wouldn't have been enough time for the time traveler to place a phone call to himself to call off the experiment.
    – user14111
    Jan 18, 2016 at 9:17

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