16

It was a short story, and I think it was featured on Escape Pod or one of the other sci-fi podcasts, but I can't find it in their archives.

What I remember of the story:
A man is attending a scientific symposium to talk about his time travel discovery, but his hotel starts on fire and he is trapped in his room.

At first he tries to use his time machine to escape or keep the fire from being started (I think it was arson?) but because of the nature of time travel as soon as he gets back to the time period at which the machine was activated everything reverts, and he finds that he is unable to change anything.

So he decides that since he is probably going to die, and he can't change the past, he might as well use the time machine to see history. So he explores a few notable points in history, one of which was the crucifixion of Jesus, but is attacked and hamstrung by Roman soldiers and never makes it there, choosing to return to the present, at which point his body is whole, as nothing that happens in the machine matters once it is turned off. Everything returns to exactly the way it was.

Then he travels to the recent past, maybe the 60's, where he meets a girl, lives with her, and spends several decades up to the present just living his life, and then doing it over and over again with different variations every time he catches up to the present.

I think the title had something to do with a philosophical sea where all changes disappear.

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    The last part reminds me of Replay, by Ken Grimwood. A man dies (or experiences some truama - could be wrong about this), and finds himself transported into his own body int he past, but with the memories of his present life. This happens again and again - each time his starting point in the past is a little closer to the present. He meets up with at least one other person to whom the same thing is happening, and finds them each time he reverts. However, the mechanism for the time travel in the book is undetermined, not a creation of the main character. – RDFozz Aug 2 '18 at 17:37
  • @RDFozz Definitely not the same story, but it does sound interesting. – AndyD273 Aug 2 '18 at 18:54
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I believe that the story is "Ripples in the Dirac Sea" by Geoffrey Landis.

A very powerful story, not without similarities to Replay but more tragic as, wherever he goes in time, he always has to return to the fire which will kill him.

Covers can be seen on isfdb here.

Front cover

  • Yes! I've been looking for it for quite a while. Thanks! – AndyD273 Aug 3 '18 at 13:12
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    Also, I know it's written that way, but I don't really see it as a tragic story. Everyone dies at the end of their lives. He just gets to live a lot of lives over and over. The only tragedy of the story is that he didn't get to share that gift with anyone else. – AndyD273 Aug 3 '18 at 13:33
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    I knew that I'd read the story, but if the OP hadn't remembered that the word "sea" was in the title, I might still be trying to remember the story name. – Emsley Wyatt Aug 3 '18 at 18:53

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