I read this sometime in the last 3 years or so, but I believe it was older than that, and was included in a collection of time travel stories.

The main thing that I remember from the story is that there is a guy inside of some kind of box or chamber. It is either transparent, or has a window. There are some scientists gathered around who observe him and try to figure out why he is there. He writes messages for them to read, I think, and when viewed from the outside, he appears to be travelling backward in time.

I don't clearly remember how it ends, but I have this vague recollection that one of the scientists eventually enters the box and becomes the backward time travelling passenger. I could be wrong about that part. There was something about reaching a point at which the backward flow of time inside the box and the forward flow of time outside the box would meet up at a point and nobody knew what would happen then.

This story might also be a subplot of a larger novel, but I seem to remember it being a short story.

  • Hi there! That's useful info already but could you maybe take a look at these guidelines, see if they trigger any more memories you could edit in? Perhaps the most important is - what is "much older"? Would it have been written in the 90s, 50s? ("old" depends a lot on who's asking!)
    – Jenayah
    Jan 1, 2019 at 20:52
  • Hi, thank you. I removed the "much older" comment, because to be honest, it could be from any time period.
    – user10108
    Jan 1, 2019 at 20:56
  • 2
    Probably Ian Watson's "The Very Slow Time Machine".. if so, please confirm, because it would be a duplicate of scifi.stackexchange.com/q/77221/65768 Jan 1, 2019 at 21:40
  • That's it! Thanks so much!
    – user10108
    Jan 1, 2019 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


Per the OP's comment, this is 1978 short story The Very Slow Time Machine by Ian Watson, the first in the 1979 collection of the same name. The story is about an old man in the first time machine who gets to (the then-future year of) 1985 and realizes that time has started moving backwards.

This is a duplicate now of this question.

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