I’m looking for a story I read about 1992 in an anthology; a time traveler/alien, visits Isaac Newton, to find out about Newton’s life.

The visitor is disguised as a woman dressed in period garb, but is unaware of what humans look underneath our clothing.

When circumstances lead the visitor to disrobe, it is shaped like the corsetting underneath, leading Newton to freak out and to choose to never marry.

  • 3
    i remember the story. i do not know if alien but rather a future human very different from contemporary humans.
    – releseabe
    Apr 28, 2022 at 16:16
  • Thank you. I'm glad to know that someone else remembers it.
    – Andrew
    Apr 28, 2022 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


This is "A Shape in Time" by Anthony Boucher.

It ends

"No, don't change back. Leave it that way. I'm curious as to the effects of -what was the word they used for it in 1880 - of a woman's bustle."

Not Newton though. Edwin Sullivan.

Hat tip to user Occam Shave who commented that the story is available to read on the Internet Archive here.

  • That's it! Andrew, I didn't remember any Isaac Newton in it, so might have missed it matching my question on what probably turned out to be the same story. And using the answer field for easy-link titling, here is it on page 123 of "Microcosmic Tales" on the Internet Archive. Feb 24, 2023 at 5:55
  • Excellent! I must have read it in that book.
    – Andrew
    Feb 24, 2023 at 11:28
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    @Andrew, someone deleted your comment on my question about you having a similar more vague question. It is, and I was thrown off by Isaac Newton, but they did seem similar. And we got our story! Feb 27, 2023 at 16:55
  • I guess I was thinking of Newton's known issues with women and got confused
    – Andrew
    Feb 27, 2023 at 17:27

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