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I have very fragmented memories of this book, that I read some time between the mid 80's to the mid 90's. I don't even remember whether I thought it was good or not. I read it in Swedish, and it's possible it's one of Swedish writer Sam Lundwall's stories, or that he translated it from English. As I recall, it was longer than a short story. Probably a novella, possibly a novel.

One thing I do remember quite clearly, is that one of the more popular trips is to see the crucifixion of Jesus, and it's also mentioned that every time people travel through time, the time they spend can't be undone, meaning they still exist in the time they visited, and therefore the amount of people viewing the crucifixion will grow each time a group comes there, and the guides accompanying the group will exist in several copies, each a little older than his or her previous copy. Because of this, they have to take care not to be in too close proximity to any of their previous visits, which, of course, gets more and more complicated.

I also seem to remember, that near the end of the story, in the distant future, mammals are long gone, and trees have become the dominant life form. I may be mixing this in from another story though.

  • @user14111 Seems you're better at googling than I am. :) This may be it, but I'l have to read a little more before saying for certain. It's 4am here, and I need to get some sleep. I'll let you know this afternoon or evening. – Duane Dibbley Feb 10 '18 at 2:51
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    @user14111 I was unable to let this go, and I suddenly came to think about a brief passage about the black plague. I found mentioned on page 42 of the July edition the bubonic plague and a short description of the cluttering of the time line matching very closely what I remember. I'm practically sure this is the one. You know what to do for 25 rep. :) – Duane Dibbley Feb 10 '18 at 3:40
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Perhaps you read a Swedish translation of Up the Line, a 1969 novel by Robert Silverberg. As a two-part serial in the July 1969 and September 1969 issues of Amazing Stories, it is available at the Internet Archive. A Swedish translation of Up the Line, titled Tidsströmmen (Timestream), was published in 1979 in Kindbergs Förlag's Alpha Science Fiction series; it's ISBN 91-85668-09-5 according to The Quasi-Official Robert Silverberg Web Site Majipoor.com. There is a review of Tidsströmmen in Swedish at Svenssongalaxen.

There is no time travel to the future; otherwise it seems to be a good match for your description.

Wikipedia plot summary:

Jud Elliott II is a failed Harvard history masters student in 2059. Bored with his job as a law clerk, he takes up a position with the Time Service as a Time Courier.

After an introductory course, Jud shunts up and down the time line ("up the line" is travel into the past; "down the line" is forward time travel, but only to "now-time," Jud's present of 2059) as a guide for tourists visiting ancient and medieval Byzantium/Constantinople.

Jud's problems include not only stupid tourists, but also greedy and mentally unstable colleagues who attempt to cause various types of havoc with the past. He is forced to break the rules in order to patch things up without drawing the attention of the Time Patrol.

When he meets and falls in love with the 'marvelous transtemporal paradox called Pulcheria' - his own multi-great grandmother - Jud succumbs to the lure of the past, creates irreparable paradoxes, and faces the inescapable clutches of the Time Patrol.

Silverberg's narrative includes some cleverly worked out details about the problems of time-travel tourism. For example, the number of tourists who over the years wish to witness the Sermon on the Mount has increased the audience at the event from the likely dozens to hundreds and even thousands.

Time-tour guides re-visiting the same event must also take care not to scan their surroundings too closely, lest they make eye contact with themselves leading another tour party.

Silverberg's interest in the Byzantine era of Roman history is put to use with a vivid description of Constantinople during the reign of Justinian, and the Nika riots of 532.

Excerpt (a lecture at time-travel school):

"I spoke the other day of cumulative audience paradox. This is a severe philosophical problem which has not yet been resolved, and which I will present to you now purely as a theoretical exercise, to give you some insight into the complexities of our undertaking. Consider this: the first time-traveler to go up the line to view the Crucifixion of Jesus was the experimentalist Barney Navarre, in 2012. Over the succeeding two decades another fifteen or twenty experimentalists made the same journey. Since the commencement of commercial excursions to Golgotha in 2041, approximately one tourist group a month, or 100 tourists a year, has viewed the scene. Thus about 1800 individuals of the twenty-first century, so far, have observed the Crucifixion. Now, then: each of these groups is leaving from a different month, but every one of them is converging on the same day! If tourists continue to go up the line at a rate of 100 a year to see the Crucifixion, the crowd at Golgotha will consist of at least 10,000 time-travelers by the middle of the twenty-second century, and, assuming no increase in the permissible tourist trade, by the early thirtieth century some 100,000 time-travelers will have made the trip, all of them necessarily congregating simultaneously at the site of the Passion. Yet obviously no such crowds are present there now, only a few thousand Palestinians—when I say 'now,' I mean of course the time of the Crucifixion relative to now-time 2059—and just as obviously those crowds will continue to grow in the centuries ahead of now-time. Taken to its ultimate, the cumulative audience paradox yields us the picture of an audience of billions of time-travelers piled up in the past to witness the Crucifixion, filling all the Holy Land and spreading out into Turkey, into Arabia, even to India and Iran. Similarly for every other significant event in human history: as commercial time-travel progresses, it must inevitably smother every event in a horde of spectators, yet at the original occurrence of those events, no such hordes were present! How is this paradox to be resolved?"

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    I read this one in college. If it helps. at the end the main character has been rendered so unlikely to exist by changes to the timeline that the narration stops in the middle of – Emsley Wyatt Feb 10 '18 at 4:25
  • The review is indeed a review. Not a very well written one though, but reasonably favourable. And btw, unlike German, the F sound is always spellt with the letter F in Swedish, i.e. förlag, not vörlag. I can't edit because it's too small an edit to be accepted by the system. – Duane Dibbley Feb 10 '18 at 4:39
  • @DuaneDibbley Thanks for the corrections! – user14111 Feb 10 '18 at 4:47
  • For finding the translated edition you deserve an extra thanks. While I consider myself proficient enough in English, I still prefer my native language, and with the help of the ISBN, I was able to find a library that was willing to send their copy to my local library free of charge, and I received it today. I'd offer a bounty for that alone, but considering the amount I could offer compared to what you already have, it wouldn't make a difference, so I hope you'll settle for my gratitude. :) – Duane Dibbley Feb 16 '18 at 22:25
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    @DuaneDibbley You're very welcome. No need for a bounty, I'm always glad to have an answer accepted. I recognized the Up the Line from your description, having read it long ago (in English of course). First I tried the ISFDB; they listed a number of translations but nothing in Swedish. Then I remembered The Quasi-Official Robert Silverberg Site which was good enough to provide data including ISBN for the Swedish translation. I'm glad you were able to get a copy through inter-library loan. – user14111 Feb 16 '18 at 22:51

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