Trying to remember a short story (most likely from the sixties). It starts with a soldier at the front line fighting an unknown enemy on the other side of the front line.

He then gets withdrawn and you realise that time is passing slower the further he moves from the front. He then spends years in peace away from the front, before being sent back to the front where only a short time (hours or days perhaps) have passed.

I seem to remember their was an inference that they were actually fighting against themselves, with their attacks coming back at themselves, which was perhaps the entire cause of the war, and an interesting critique on war. I can't remember if this all this was stated explicitly, or just left for the reader to infer.

1 Answer 1


David Masson, “Traveller's Rest”. Collected in The Caltraps of Time and various anthologies.

Another memorable detail is that the protagonist's name starts out as a single letter (“H”) and gradually lengthens as he goes away from the front line.

Indeed, the protagonist conceives the theory that the front line (“the Frontier”) is some kind of mirror, but his hierarchy dismisses the idea. It's obvious to the reader that the protagonist's theory is correct.

  • 3
    Wow - that was quick. I've spent years trying to remember! I'll still have the anthology it was in somewhere so can hopefully find and re-read it now, without having to re-read every short story I own!
    – Durathor
    Feb 13, 2011 at 17:08
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    See also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/211146/… I loved Traveler's Rest, and to quote an editor of a science fiction anthology regarding another story, "this one will stick like a burr in your memory." May 24, 2019 at 1:25
  • I was just trying to describe it myself, when this came up as a possible answer! Apr 19, 2022 at 13:42
  • And also, when he is sent back and get more convinced his theory is right, things are being made ready for setting off a newly developed weapon that to destroy the enemy once and for ever and make an end to the war... Apr 19, 2022 at 13:53

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