I'm fairly certain that I read this somewhere between 2016 and 2019. The protagonist, a female, gains the ability to travel back in time somehow, and embarks on what ought to be a get-rich-quick scheme, grabbing what is a common item in that time period and burying it to be dug up in the future. However, first she runs into issues where extrinsic events result in the buried item not remaining safe, and as she starts tweaking bits of history to ensure that she gets her artifact safely back (seemingly invoking dangerous amounts of Butterfly Effect), she eventually learns that the form of time travel she's doing results in timelines splitting, which means that the odds are fairly low of her returning to a timeline where the object is still there, but also meaning she has little reason to fear her other changes resulting in, say, the United States turning into a theocracy.

I either read this as an ebook or listened to the MP3 audiobook, because I associate my phone with having done so. I want to say that her method of travel involved either a mixture of science and magic or one of those cases of sufficiently advanced technology or magic being indistinguishable from the other. One of the manipulations she engaged in was trying to ruin a particular company to ensure they didn't build a factory on the land where she buried the item valuable in the future.

1 Answer 1


I should have known I'd find this with a little more poking into my recent book history. It's The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson.

D.O.D.O. build a gigantic Faraday cage to exclude the collapsing-wave-form pollution of modern life, put a real-life witch inside it and get her to send their agents back in time. To begin with, these temporal jaunts are undertaken with the less than idealistic purpose of raising money for the underfunded D.O.D.O. The plan is to bury a rare 1640 book so that 21st-century D.O.D.O. can dig it up and sell it for millions. This small project, though, goes repeatedly wrong: a mill is built on the site of the book burial, and additional trips further back in time are needed to stop it being erected. Each attempt to right the timelines leads to more complications. But this plot minor develops into the plot major, as they run up against a deep-time conspiracy by a cabal of mysterious bankers and threats to the stability of the temporal universe.

  • This sounds like the worst possible 'get-rich-quick' scheme in history. It's neither quick, nor does she get rich.
    – Valorum
    May 7, 2019 at 14:50
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    @Valorum: I believe they do eventually sell it for a large sum of money, although it's then heavily implied that a different group of time travellers, the bankers mentioned in the quote above, set things up for them to get paid if for no other reason than to get them to stop monkeying around with timelines.
    – FuzzyBoots
    May 7, 2019 at 14:52

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