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He appears periodically to people on Earth in normal time. Earth is ravaged by war and culture is reset. People forget about the true nature of his origin, see him as a manifestation of a god at first, then slowly realize he is a leftover from the civilisation that destroyed itself with mighty weapons. The man in the spacesuit is trapped and his oxygen supply is depleting, yet his time is drastically slower than that of Earth people, who witness the dial of his oxygen supply going down into the red zone over the course of many hundreds of years.

I read this when I was younger (in the 1980s) and it haunts me that I have not been able to find the name and author of this story.

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2 Answers 2

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The details don't all match up, but this sounds like "The Man Who Walked Home" by James Tiptree Jr. from the early 1970s.

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  • Thank you so much. My memory had faded and imagination had probably altered some details in my memory, but this is spot on! I am very grateful to be able to re-read this story now that has been ruminated over in my mind for many years :D Dec 22, 2022 at 15:47
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I suspect this might be "Extempore" by Damon Knight. It is about a man who manages to speed up (slow down? it's confusing) his perception of time and is practically frozen in one spot as events wash over him. I don't remember anything with oxygen running out though.

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  • sorry, I have read Extempore, this is a different story. Dec 22, 2022 at 15:07

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