Looking for help to find a science fiction short story about a man send to the past to serve his sentence, and at the end when he is happy, married and successful, his is recaptured by a co-worker who in reality is an undercover time detective looking for him, and he is sent to Hiroshima (or Nagasaki) one hour before the bomb and the short story ends there.

I read this short story about 15 years ago in a science fiction anthology whose title I do not remember, out of the Salt Lake City library and Google is not of any help.

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    Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Please see our guide to help improve your question. Oct 8, 2019 at 5:07

1 Answer 1


Assuming you remember the Hiroshima part wrong, you may be thinking of "My Object All Sublime", a 1961 short story by Poul Anderson, which was also the (unaccepted) answer to the question A short story where criminals are sent back in time as punishment?. You might be able to read it at Google Books. Does any of these covers ring a bell?

The story is narrated by the time cop, under cover as a friend of the exiled criminal in 20th century Chicago. The ending:

His excitement softened. He looked from the window and the night, inward, toward the bedrooms. "And my wife and kids," he finished, most gently. "No, I wouldn't go back, no matter what happened."

I took a final breath of my cigar. "You have done rather well."

Liberated from his gray mood, he grinned at me. "You know, I think you believe that yarn."

"Oh, I do." I stubbed out the cigar, rose, and stretched. "The hour is late. We'd better be going."

He didn't notice at once. When he did, he came out of his chair like a big cat. "We?"

"Of course." I drew a nerve gun from my pocket. He stopped in his tracks. "This sort of thing isn't left to chance. We check up. Come along, now."

The blood drained from his face. "No," he mouthed, "no, no, no, you can't, it isn't fair, not to Amalie, the children—"

"That," I told him, "is part of the punishment."

I left him in Damascus, the year before Tamerlane sacked it.

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    Part of the punishment is to punish the wife and children? Oct 8, 2019 at 14:42
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    @Whelkaholism I think that being "part of the punishment" is for the man to feel the anguish of being torn away from people he loves, not the other way around... though that likely will be collateral. At least, that's how I interpreted it.
    – Daevin
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:21
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    @IvanTorres You're welcome! You can officially accept my answer by clicking on the check mark next to it.
    – user14111
    Oct 8, 2019 at 19:31
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    @ruakh I disagree, I think the general context is around Michaels having a family to lose, not specifically punishing the family. It makes little sense to punish the family that wouldn't have existed if he wasn't put there in the first place. Why create a family to punish? It actually wouldn't make any sense to do that, unless the overall punishment was to give Michaels something to feel anguish about, making the family a secondary target of the punishment.
    – Daevin
    Oct 8, 2019 at 19:57
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    @Daevin: Part of the punishment of Michaels is that this terrible thing is happening to the wife and children that he loves: namely, Michaels' sudden disappearance. This sort of thing is very common cross-culturally; see e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_punishment, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attainder, google.com/search?q=children+in+cages.
    – ruakh
    Oct 8, 2019 at 20:18

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