It's like "A Sound of Thunder" but when the guy goes back from the past to the present, his superiors ask him if anything worrying happened during the trip. He says, No. But they are all in tanks of liquid now. Not humans anymore. And they all agree that nothing in the trip affected the present. The End. It was a short story I read maybe 40 years ago. Not sure when exactly. Has anyone heard of this story?

  • I think it was dino time. At the start of the story the traveller and his superiors are human. But something happens while in the past that we are told might affect the future. Both the traveller and the superiors are revealed as a "new" species to the reader only at the end as he reports to them. The point being that not the traveller nor his superiors realize the big change because it affected them all. The old twist ending. I thought this was highly illogical because such a huge change would not result in the same consciousnesses existing and doing the same actions. – Mark Wood Feb 20 at 11:28


I think this is William Tenn's short story "Brooklyn Project", first published in Planet Stories, Fall 1948

Early in the story, the inventor explains: "In a few moments, man’s first large-scale excursion into time will begin. Not by humans, but with the aid of a photographic and recording device which will bring us incalculably rich data on the past. With this experiment, the Brooklyn Project justifies ten billion dollars and over eight years of scientific development." As such, it is not a person going back to the "Age of Reptiles", but a camera.

The story ends as follows:

They all agreed, and their bloated purpled bodies dissolved into liquid and flowed up and around to the apparatus. When they reached its four square blocks, now no longer shrilling mechanically, they rose, solidified, and regained their slime-washed forms.

“See,” cried the thing that had been the acting secretary to the executive assistant on press relations. “See, no matter how subtly! Those who billow were wrong: we haven’t changed.” He extended fifteen purple blobs triumphantly. “Nothing has changed!”

The story can be read in its entirety here.

  • That's it exactly! I was conflating it with Bradbury's story. The ending stuck in my mind all these decades because it's nonsensical. I believe that was the start of my (around age 12) appreciation of better written hard sci-fi. Thank you very much and now I will experience my own time travel as I reread it. – Mark Wood Feb 20 at 11:49
  • If it was satire then I was too young to be hip to that. Didn't even read Mad magazine until about that time. – Mark Wood Feb 20 at 11:51
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    Amazing. I've read Brooklyn Project a few times, starting with 1948 in Planet Stories, and I've identified it before, but I never would have guessed Brooklyn Project from that description. Well done. – user14111 Feb 20 at 12:55

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