I am looking for a short story I read years back about a small (maybe 3) group of time travelers who go back in time. I seem to recall the time machine was in the back of a library.

One person would go to stop Christopher Columbus from coming to America, the young lady would go even further back to read Winnie the Pooh to Alexander the Great, and ... I forget what the 3rd person did.

But the aftermath was very interesting, especially how the Native Americans grew as a people when left alone to do so (floating tent homes, advanced tech, etc).

Thank you for any help :-)

EDIT: I read this as part of an anthology (something like 'Century's Best Sci-Fi' or something similar)...going back 10+ years at least

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. About when was "years back"? Please be as specific as possible. Also, where did you read it? An anthology? Online?
    – DavidW
    Commented Nov 19, 2020 at 3:29
  • Might it have been in "The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century" isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?67557
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 11 at 22:59
  • Was the tone humorous or serious?
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 11 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


Could it be..

Pastwatch: The Redemption Of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card?

It is a novel, not a short story.

It does have three time travellers travelling with information from a library.

Three hollow grey hemispheres formed a triangle, like three serving bowls laid out for a feast. Each was filled with equipment for the different missions that Diko, Hunahpu, and Kemal would carry out. Each had a portion of the library that Manjam and his secret committee had collected and preserved. If any one of them reached the past and changed it so that the future was obliterated, then that one portion of the library would contain enough information that someday the people of the new future would be able to learn of the future that had died for them. Would be able to build on their science, wonder at their stories, profit from their technologies, learn from their sorrows.

It does have a world where Columbus travelled East instead of West. After a message from people meddling in time that Columbus understood as a vision from God.

So if it is in my power to undream their dreams, to give the future to another people, who is to say that it's wrong? How could it be worse? Christopher Columbus -- Cristobal Col¢n, as the Spanish called him; Cristoforo Colombo, as he was baptized in Genova -- he would not discover America after all, if she could find a way to stop him. The prayer of the village of Ankuash would be answered. And by answering that

"What are we seeing?" demanded Kemal. "Be still and listen, " said Tagiri, impatient. "What conclusion can you reach before you've seen the data?" They fell silent. They watched and listened. The vision resolved itself into two men, shining with a faint nimbus all around them. And on the shoulder of the smaller of the two men there sat a dove. There could be no doubt in the mind of any medieval man, especially one who had read as much as Cristoforo, what this vision was supposed to represent. The Holy Trinity. Almost he spoke their names aloud. But they were still speaking, calling him by name in languages he had never heard. Then, finally: "Columbus, you are my true servant." Yes, with all my heart I am. "You have turned your heart to the east, to liberate Constantinople from the Turk."

Alexander the Great is mentioned. There is no mention of Winnie the Pooh.

  • The "library" referenced is the information they're carrying with them, not a place that is a library.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Mar 11 at 22:07

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