I remember some pieces of the story.

It was a small but FTL cabable ship, I seem to remember some kind of military discipline, they were doing something routine (patrol?) when "things went wrong".

They end up hiding under the water, a female tries to make telepathic contact with the people on a boat in a storm, and they misunderstand her and throw Jonah overboard, they rescue him, and "have to" put him on the beach.

This may or may not have also had the uptimers using modern engineering techniques to help bring down walls of a fortified city by tunneling underneath them, while the local tribes marched around blowing trumpets... (Jericho ?)

As requested, I read this in English, in the late 70s-early 80s, but it was a used paperback book, about a half inch or so thick. I think the cover was yellow ;-)

Another fragment of memory - There was a storm on the surface, they saw a primitive boat having trouble. The female telepath tried to send the sailors an image of a drag anchor (or sea anchor), to help them ride out the storm, instead, they throw over the Jonah.

  • It was a paperback, maybe half an inch thick. I read it in the late 70's to early 80's, but I bought it used. I think the cover was mostly yellow ;-) I Aug 30, 2018 at 23:26
  • Hi there! :) to further what user14111 said, maybe you could take a look at these guidelines on story-ID questions, see if that triggers any more memories yu could edit in? For instance, did you read that in English, was it a translation?
    – Jenayah
    Aug 30, 2018 at 23:28

2 Answers 2


The Way Back by A Bertram Chandler.

The scene you're thinking of is:

Grimes checked Faraway Quest's descent, held her where she was, then turned the controls over to Carnaby. Williams already had the big telescope trained and focused and the picture was showing on the screen. Grimes looked at it. Yes, it was a ship all right. Graceless, broad-beamed, with a single mast, stepped amidships, a low poop from which jutted a steering sweep. Other sweeps, six to a side, were flailing at the water. She seemed to be making heavy weather of it.

The telepath is Mayhew:

"And there's that nong, sweating his guts out on his steering oar while his crew, at the sweeps, must be on the point of dropping dead with exhaustion. Damn it all, I hate to see a ship, any ship, in trouble! If only I could tell the stupid bastard what to do ..."

"You can, John," said Mayhew quietly.

Grimes laughed. "All right, all right, so that skipper's not the only stupid bastard around here. I forgot that you can transmit as well as receive. Do you think you can get a message to him?"

"I'm ... I'm trying now. I'm ... inside his mind. I don't like it much. He's terrified, of course. And it's not only a healthy fear of the elements, but also a superstitious dread . . . He didn't make the proper sacrifices before pushing out on this voyage, and he knows it. The wine that he poured out on to the altar was very cheap and inferior stuff, almost vinegar . . . And the goat that had its throat cut was diseased and no good for anything else

It looks as if the skipper of the ship has got the idea and drops a sea anchor, but in fact:

Ah, at last. The seamen, acting as one, were lifting what looked like a bundle of rags. "Not big enough ..." muttered Grimes. "Not nearly big enough ..." They lifted the bundle of rags and dropped it over the stern.

"And where the hell's your sea-anchor line?" demanded Grimes furiously. Then, just before a hissing rain squall blotted out all vision, the Commodore and his companions saw that the thing jettisoned was a man

I can't find any mention of tunnelling under city walls. Maybe this is from a different book?

  • Thank you - that's definitely the scene I remembered. I'm surprised I had as many details correct as I did. I wasn't sure if the sappers taking Jericho was from the same book, it may have been conflated in my mind because of the time period... Aug 31, 2018 at 14:01

This may be Uncommon Castaway by Nelson Bond, although it's a short story rather than a novel, and not all details match. Still, I'm putting it forward for consideration anyway.

I found a description on google books:

Here's an elementary SF theological example of affecting (but not changing) the past; in the 1949 story "Uncommon Castaway" by Nelson Bond (1908-2006), time travelers journey back to Biblical times in a submarine equipped with a time machine. While sailing in an ancient sea the crew comes across a man who has been set adrift, and so rescue him. After their return to the present they realize that the man they took aboard was Jonah...

  • 2
    I don't believe this is the correct one, although I'll give it a peruse... Aug 31, 2018 at 1:00
  • 2
    Confirmed - not the book I had in mind. But a similar feel to it, although in mine the female telepath did figure out what was going on... Aug 31, 2018 at 1:11
  • @DavidHansen I didn't have much faith that this would be it, but I've seen less likely answers turn out to be the right one.
    – Moriarty
    Aug 31, 2018 at 1:17

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