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So this is what I remember, and it's very specific, but even so I can't seem to track down the novel:

  • a man discovers a portable time travel device that he can carry around with him. He gets caught in the field and watches civilization after civilization rise and fall and die - because he's in the field, and radio waves transform to the visible spectrum because of that, so he can watch civilizations rise and fall while he's within the field.

  • eventually the device runs out of power and he's caught far, far in the future - a future where many civilizations have risen and fallen, so much so that previous civilizations realize that human civilization is cyclical and they leave behind nearly-indestructible plinths etched with basic science to help future civilizations along.

  • he ends up in a minor civilization that's doing its best to avoid violent conquest by a global super power, they reverse engineer his time travel tech, and do everything they can to prevent conquest. Everything they try fails - and they try everything they can think of.

  • he falls in love with the daughter of the leader of the minor civilization, but she ends up dying when her flyer is shot down. When they use the device no one remembers her, not even her father, and the time traveler is heart-broken because he's the only one who remembers she even lived. Everyone else tells him to 'move on' but he can't.

The reason I'm looking for this book is because I can remember a whole bunch of specific details about it (e.g., they tried to assassinate the 'great leader' of their nation, and that only ended in nuclear apocalypse), but I can't remember the ending. I want to track down the book so I can read how it ended. I don't own it, I want to own it, so I can read the ending and finally know how everything goes. Wish I'd bought the thing 20 years ago, but I didn't, and now here I am.

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    This sounds very like what I remember of the books here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/23198/…
    – andrewsi
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 1:41
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    @andrewsi I agree. I was thinking of With Fate Conspire while I looked at the original post, before I even followed your link to see which time-travel novel you were nominating.
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 13:52
  • Did the story have telepaths in it? With Fate Conspire features telepath wars or something like that. The op doesn't mention telepathy.
    – HyperNym
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 7:59
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    This sounds like an interesting story! Take a look at this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_to_Forever. It matches part of what you are looking for - a time travel device that goes into the future only. The main character sees the rise and fall of many civilizations, culminating with the end of the universe itself.
    – FontFamily
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 21:42
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    This kind of reminds me of The Time Machine by H. G Wells. I saw the film of the same name and it really really reminds me of it but not sure if that's what you're thinking.
    – Mae
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 2:27

1 Answer 1

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As suggested in a comment this is With Fate Conspire, the first book of the Destiny Makers series by Mike Shupp. It is probably the same story that was asked about in 80's(?) time travel trilogy with a one-armed war veteran dragged to the future with World War III and telepath wars though that answer was never formally accepted.

With Fate Conspire

Vietnam veteran and MIT student Tim Harper uses his new invention, a time machine, to travel ninety thousand years into the future, where he is captured by Alghera clansmen who seek to use his discovery to change the course of history.

I found a copy of the book on the Internet Archive, and I have been able to find most of the points in the description, though not the plinths with science engraved on them. There is also a searchable version on Google books.

At the start of the story there is a power cut and Tim finds himself trapped inside some form of spherical force field centred on the room below him. He manages to get into the room and there finds the time machine (the machine is not his invention - the Goodreads description is wrong in this respect).

After fiddling with the controls Tim finds himself moving into the future and witness the destruction of his city, Cambridge Massachusetts, in some form of nuclear war. He ends up travelling 90,000 years into the future and being caught and imprisoned by the Alghera, who then use the machine to try and win a war.

While he is travelling he realises he is seeing radio waves:

He was not seeing normal light now, he had come to understand. If half an hour passed for him while clocks outside measured an hour, the frequency of the light entering the field would appear doubled to him, so the apparent wavelength would be halved. What was red would seem blue, what was blue already would be into the ultraviolet from his viewpoint and thus invisible.

He was moving through time much faster than that. The blue band that was the Sun swaying across the sky - each slow to-and-from cycle must be a year. Call it fifteen seconds of his time: so he had sped up not by a factor of two but by roughly two million. Normal light wavelengths were about five thousand angstroms long. Multiplied by two million: a meter. He was seeing radio waves.

The girl is Niculponoc Onnul Nyjuc and she is killed when her levcraft is downed by enemy fire. Tim pleads with the people controlling the time machine to change history to bring her back, but they refuse as in the timeline where she dies the Alghera are doing well in the war.

The leader who is assassinated is Mlart, however it isn't his assassination that causes the nuclear holocaust. Instead it's the timeline in which Tim saves him from assassination that ends in nuclear war. At the end of the book Tim has been told to assassinate him to prevent this happening.

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