I'm looking for a Sci Fi short story about a sci fi writer in the 1800s who tells a story about going back in time using a mirror. He describes to his friends the barbaric, primitive people he met there. It goes on for a while with his descriptions, then a friend asks him how he ever got back. He answers, "I never did get back".

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    Going by the punch line, this might be a very muddled recollection if Edmond Hamilton's "Exile" which is described in this old question: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/231689/…
    – user14111
    Dec 12, 2020 at 3:23
  • It sounds very like Exile, even down to the protagonist complaining about how barbarous the world is. But there is no mirror in Exile. Dec 12, 2020 at 6:09
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    @JohnRennie Yep. A sci-fi writer trapped in a barbaric world, punch line "I never got back." But no mirror, no time travel, no 1800s. It's like we're mixing up two different stories. That happens.
    – user14111
    Dec 12, 2020 at 8:46
  • @user14111 That was my thought as well, though I couldn't find any publication that included both.
    – DavidW
    Dec 12, 2020 at 13:18

1 Answer 1


The only story I can think of that has an author go back in time using a mirror is L. Sprague de Camp's "Balsamo's Mirror" (1976), where H.P. Lovecraft and a friend are sent back to the 18th century (which is close to what you remember) by a gypsy using a magic mirror.

They don't get trapped there, though; they come back when their 18th-century bodies are killed, and the mirror is broken.

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