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I read this short story years ago but can't think of how to find it. The entire summary also reveals plot surprises. Sorry, but the only way I know to describe the story.

  • In the 1970s the protagonist enters his time machine to live in the 1880s. Before he starts a dozen pairs of hands remove him from the machine. Because...
  • In the 1970s the original protagonist successfully went to the 1880s. He was happy, lived and died.
  • In the 1970s the original protagonist successfully went to the 1880s. He met himself there, complete with duplicate time machine. They passed themselves off as twins, lived happy and died.
  • In the 1970s ... etc.
  • After a while there were many, many copies of the same person all parked in the same place and time, with more arriving every few minutes. They decide that they all have to go forward and stop the next "person" from leaving.

Can anyone remember the title and author for this story?

Thanks, Jerome.

  • Welcome to SFF:SE. We recommend having a look at the tour, which contains helpful hints for using the site, including tips on story identification questions. – Politank-Z Oct 13 '17 at 2:37
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    Is it "the 1979s" and "the 1880s" in the story, or are those stand-ins for the actual dates which you don't remember? Can we assume that the 1970s (when the time machine was invented) were in the future when the story was written? About how long ago did you read it? 50 years ago? Anything interesting about the 1880s setting, e.g. was it the American Wild West, or Victorian England? – user14111 Oct 13 '17 at 2:49
  • That seems like a very badly implemented form of time travel. This somehow relies on the notion that when someone travels from 1970 to 1880, that the timespan from 1880 to 1970 is fully replayed, to the point of creating a duplicate time traveller (who then travels back and starts the 1880 to 1970 timespan again). In such a system, if one person travels to the past (regardless of how far back), they inherently lock the entire universe in a neverending cycle that constantly replays (1880->1970, rewind, 1880->1970, rewind, ...) – Flater Oct 13 '17 at 11:28
  • This effectively means that any backwards time travel inherently breaks the universe, thus making it functionally unusable. – Flater Oct 13 '17 at 11:31
7

Alex & Phyllis Eisenstein, The Trouble with the Past.

Sadly, I can't find any details on Internet, but it mostly fits your description, although it happens partly in year 1870 and there are no dozens but only nine pairs of hands actually.

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