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I once read this short story about a time traveler who went back to the middle ages because he had done research about some strange event (the appearance of a demon seems to ring a bell) at that particular point in history. Of course, as the story goes on, it becomes clear that the event in question is his going back in time.

I'm being pretty vague, because I can't remember the details all that well, but I'm wondering if this rings a bell for anyone else who might be able to tell me what the name of the story (and possibly who the author was).

Edit:

I'm not at all sure I don't have details mixed up. After writing this, though, I did remember one other aspect - I recall the traveler either appearing in some kind of giant egg-shaped device, or some type of egg-shaped portal. (I think this is important because, IIRC, the traveler is going back to specifically see if this was an encounter with extraterrestrials).

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    I recall a different story where a time-traveller returns to the time of Newton & tries to give him a calculator. He performs a quick calculation on it to show the potential to Newton, but the answer is '666'. Newton is horrified and goes into an huge effort writing religious works / commentary (as he historically did). Are you sure you don't have some details mixed up? There are some strong parallels between your description & the Newton story. – Andrew Thompson Nov 19 '16 at 21:56
  • @AndrewThompson Nope, I'm not at all sure I don't have details mixed up. After writing this, though, I did remember one other aspect - I recall the traveler either appearing in some kind of giant egg-shaped device, or some type of egg-shaped portal. (I think this is important because, IIRC, the traveler is going back to specifically see if this was an encounter with extraterrestrials). – jwir3 Nov 19 '16 at 22:17
  • I suggest you edit that into the question. Without that sort of detail, there's little chance of finding the right story - there must be hundreds of short stories along those general lines. – Harry Johnston Nov 19 '16 at 23:08
  • @HarryJohnston I added it to the question, thanks. – jwir3 Nov 22 '16 at 18:47
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Might you be referring to stories about a god, rather than a demon?

In the book "Time Patrol" by Paul Anderson, there is a story called "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth". In that story, there is a historian who is traveling back in time looking for local stories about Odin, because the tales told in that location deviate from the usual stories in interesting ways.

Of course, he first arrives well before the shift in stories, and sets up a backstory so he can be a frequent visitor. Over time, he becomes more and more involved in the locals' lives, bends a rule or two to give an advantage to his people, and the locals in turn pick up that he isn't, well, a normal wanderer - and Odin was known as a wanderer, who sometimes came in disguise, so clearly they believed that their occasional visitor was the god himself (and shaped their stories in response), even though he had never identified himself as such.

In the end, the historian is made to realize that the shift in Odin stories was the result of his own presence - tragically so.

the stories recite that the family that took him in were on the verge of victory in battle, when Odin suddenly appeared and betrayed them - warning their enemies of an attack and leaving the men fighting to their deaths.

His meddling had altered (would have altered?) the timeline enough that the outcome of that action would be different than was recorded, with resultant aftereffects, altering his own history in a way time travel could not sustain (they're fine with closed time loops, just not open changes). Instead, he has to fulfill the history as laid out to keep history on its proper track

he betrays them, saves their enemy, and puts time back on its proper track. When pressed for an explanation, he replies that "against time the gods themselves are powerless".

As for your comment, the series does indeed have extraterrestrials in it, and the time travelers are supposed to check if they were meddling in time. It also has time ships, and offhand I think they are described as egg-shaped, though I couldn't swear to it.

  • I think the Time Patrol ships are shaped more like motorbikes, and there are no extraterrestrials that I can recall. (You might be thinking of the Danelians, but they're descended from humans.) – Harry Johnston Nov 22 '16 at 20:51
  • @HarryJohnston - I think you're right, especially about the Danelians. Now it's gonna bug me till I figure out what I crossed it with in my memory... Thanks for the correction! – Megha Nov 22 '16 at 23:41
  • Was the time machine from Flight of the Horse egg-shaped? – Harry Johnston Nov 23 '16 at 0:50

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