Short story where humans experience time in reverse - they remember the future and cannot recall the past.

Probably in a cyberpunk anthology published in the '90s

It begins with the death of the main character and goes backwards from there.

It's implied that people used to experience time normally, but there was some sort of 'great inversion'. Everything fell into chaos until humanity adjusted to the new status quo.

I remember something about traffic lights being automated to tell you where you were going to go.


I read a story with this plot in Galaxy August 1956 page 42 "This Way to the Regress" by Damon Knight. However, it does not mention the turn-around. It starts with his "birth" in a traffic accident, and ends with his meeting his mother at her "birth" in the hospital.

A grey woman. Her eyes opened and she tried to smile at him.

"Mother", he said.

Of course you added that it is in a 90s cyberpunk anthology so it would not be this story.

There was also a story of this type in which the narrator is immortal and remembers the fear of an approaching world destroying war forcing the reversal so the war goes away and things continue on. One incident is a horrible civil war that results in enslaving dark skinned citizens followed by the abandoning of the North American continent. It ends with him in the middle east desert expecting that his (then) wife will walk into the desert or be abandoned as an infant. He is the only immortal in the world he describes.

Thanks to @Fruitbat20 for identifying The Man Who Never Grew Young

@user14111 points to looking for short story / novella - time is flowing in reverse except for the story teller

  • 2
    The other story that you are thinking of is The Man Who Never Grew Young by Fritz Leiber – Fruitbat Jun 20 '16 at 22:55
  • By the way, Knight's story appeared under the title "This Way to the Regress" only on its first publication in Galaxy; it was reprinted as "Backward, O Time". (Maybe "Backward" was Knight's title for that story, and "Regress" was forced on him by H. L. Gold, the editor of Galaxy.) – user14111 Jun 24 '16 at 5:25

I found it! It was 'Foresight' by Mike Swanwick. Thanks to @valorum for posting the sf-encyclopedia link where I found the reference.

  • If you could add some more details about the story that would be helpful, you can also accept your own answer as correct. – Edlothiad Sep 19 '18 at 18:31
  • 1
    Teach a man to fish. Now I expect you to use this resource to check every single unanswered story-ID question on the site. – Valorum Sep 19 '18 at 18:48

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