What's that story about the prescient writers? It's a science fiction story ABOUT science fiction writers. It features people from the future who think sci fi writers from the 50's were psychic and they travel back in time to try to get a writer to describe the workings of a space ship or something? Does this ring a bell for anyone? It's driving me crazy!

  • 2
    Sounds like "Who's Cribbing," but in reverse.
    – Buzz
    Jan 17, 2018 at 1:18
  • When did you read it?
    – Möoz
    Jan 17, 2018 at 1:40
  • 1
    This suddenly reminds me of a short story I once read which had a slightly different premise (I think). I'll keep an eye on this and see what sort of answers you get. If all else fails, I'll start a new question about the one I remember. (Note: I also remember "Who's Cribbing," but that isn't the one I read 30 years ago.)
    – Lorendiac
    Jan 17, 2018 at 1:47
  • There's a story by Ray Bradbury that is kiiiiinda similar, if that's what you're thinking of, but it's not that. I'm curious as to what other stories fit this description! I want to read them!
    – Sou
    Jan 17, 2018 at 2:09
  • 2
    @Lorendiac You might be thinking of Security Check by Arthur C. Clarke.
    – Mr Lister
    Jan 17, 2018 at 13:58

2 Answers 2


"Waterspider", a novelette by Philip K. Dick, first published in If, January 1964, available at the Internet Archive.

Description from NESFA's Recursive Science Fiction site:

In the 21st century the Bureau of Emigration sends agents back to the 1954 World SF Convention to abduct Poul Anderson. They believe that the 20th century SF writers were precogs (even if they didn't know it themselves). They need Anderson to tell them how to solve their speed-of-light drive problem.

Excerpt from "Waterspider":

"I'll tell you something," Fermeti said. "We have a new tack." Now Tozzo’s co-worker Craig Gilly had come sauntering up. To the two men, Fermeti said, "We’re going to try using pre-cogs in obtaining our formula for re-entry." His eyes flickered as he saw their reaction.

Astonished, Gilly said, "But all the pre-cogs are dead. Destroyed by Presidential order twenty years ago."

Tozzo, impressed, said, "He's going to dip back into the past to obtain a pre-cog. Isn’t that right, Fermeti?"

"We will, yes," his superior said, nodding. "Back to the golden age of pre-cognition. The twentieth century."

For a moment Tozzo was puzzled. And then he remembered.

During the first half of the twentieth century so many pre-cogs — people with the ability to read the future — had come into existence that an organized guild had been formed with branches in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Pennsylvania. This group of pre-cogs, all knowing one another, had put out a number of periodicals which had flourished for several decades. Boldly and openly, the members of the pre-cog guild had proclaimed in their writings their knowledge of the future. And yet — as a whole, their society had paid little attention to them.


It's probably less related than "Waterspider", but Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 6, episode 13 "Far Beyond the Stars" is what first came into my mind.

In said episode, in the 24th century the mind of Captain Benjamin Sisko somehow gets transported into Benny Russell, an African-American science fiction writer in 1950s New York City. He starts writing stories closely resembling the actual future, and his acquaintances react on a wide range of emotions.

  • Do you think that Deep Space Nine episode is the story the original poster was trying to remember?
    – user14111
    Jan 17, 2018 at 21:24
  • Don't worry, I'm not trying to compete against your accepted (and admittedly great) answer. But as the OP mentions in his comment - " I'm curious as to what other stories fit this description! I want to read them!" - So I figured my answer is still relevant, even if it's not the perfect answer. Do you disagree? Jan 18, 2018 at 22:15
  • It's just that, on this site, only legitimate attempts to answer the question are supposed to be posted as answers; reading recommendations etc. should rather be posted as comments. B.U.É.K.!
    – user14111
    Jan 18, 2018 at 23:07
  • And if "what other stories fit this description" had been posted as a question it would have been closed for being off-topic.
    – user14111
    Jan 18, 2018 at 23:09
  • 1
    By the way, the idea of somebody writing actual future events as science fiction stories was used in Boucher's "Transfer Point". Also I guess you could describe the frame story of Stapledon's Last and First Men (and many others) that way.
    – user14111
    Jan 19, 2018 at 5:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.