I am trying to remember a specific story that I read in an issue of Analog Magazine over a decade ago.

The story was about a character in an apartment (most likely on Earth), rather than on a space ship or anything of that nature. He somehow finds himself (or-herself?) in contact with either a past (or future / or alternate reality) version of themselves and rocks the foundation of their being by some revelation.

I can't recall if there is an actual physical meeting of the two versions, or if there is a note or other sort of communication left for them.

I know this is very vague. I can't recall the details and some of what I think I remember is most likely incorrect!

The only information I know absolutely for certain is that it was published in Analog Magazine between 1996 and 2003.

  • This site has summaries for a bunch of issues from 1997, 1998 and 2002, so there's a chance the story you remember might be in there: geocities.ws/firstspeaker.geo/magazines/analog/index.html
    – Hypnosifl
    Apr 23, 2014 at 19:48
  • @Hypnosifl That is very helpful, thank you. I read each and every summary available at the link, and unfortunately none of them rang a bell for me, but I appreciate your help and I'll keep plugging along hoping to find it!
    – callahan09
    Apr 24, 2014 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


This is "Twenty-One, Counting Up" by Harry Turtledove, in which a 21-year-old college student gets advice from his 40-year-old self to prevent an eventual divorce with his then-girlfriend:

[This] is a companion piece to "Forty, Counting Down", centering on the twenty-one year old Justin Kloster, and his adventures as he goes along with his older self's unsuccessful plan to save his marriage.

For reference for anyone else looking for time travel stories, I found it in the database here--you can look for a specific date range like 1996 to 2003, see here, and then I did control-F (or command-F on a Mac) to search the page for all entries with "Analog" in them. This one was from December 1999, and listed on the page as the "Justin Counting Stories" because it's paired with "Forty, Counting Down" from Asimov magazine (which tells the same story from the perspective of the older version of the character). As I mention in a comment, the story was also reprinted in The Time Traveler's Almanac.

  • 1
    @callahan09 -- if you're still around I wanted to let you know that "Twenty-One, Counting Up" was in the time travel anthology The Time Traveler's Almanac which I recently picked up, and having read it I think it's very likely this is the story you were remembering--the main character gets an email from his future self while in his apartment, mentioning memories he's never told anyone, and later they meet up and his future self tells him the shocking news that he's going to have a messy divorce with the girlfriend he's in love with, and his future self wants to impersonate him for a bit.
    – Hypnosifl
    Jul 26, 2014 at 15:06
  • Thank you very much for the help and the suggestion! Per your mention of "Twenty-One, Counting Up", I searched for and found an excerpt here: analogsf.com/9912/21.html This comes from the December 1999 issue of Analog Magazine, which is one I definitely would have read, and falls right into the era that I remember reading this. I've read the excerpt and it seems like this might be the one, but I can't be sure until I read the whole thing. I ordered a copy of the issue from Ebay and will post here again after I read it!
    – callahan09
    Nov 25, 2014 at 15:51
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    @Richard - Sorry for the delay in getting back to this,but I have now had a chance to acquire the magazine and read the story, and I can say with 100% certainty that this is it! Thanks Hypnosifl, I have accepted your answer as the correct one. "Twenty One, Counting Up" is definitely the story I was thinking of. Honestly, it was a bit of a let down, I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as much as I remembered 15+ years ago, but I'm just thrilled to have an answer and now know what story I had been thinking of. Thanks again.
    – callahan09
    Feb 6, 2015 at 13:35

It sounds like you're describing the seminal "By His Bootstraps" by Robert A. Heinlein, originally written under the pen name of Anson MacDonald

Per Wikipedia:

Bob Wilson locks himself in his room to finish his graduate thesis on a mathematical aspect of metaphysics, using the concept of time travel as a case in point. Someone says, "Don't bother, it's hogwash anyway." The interloper, who looks strangely familiar, calls himself "Joe" and explains that he has come from the future through a Time Gate, a circle about six feet in diameter in the air behind Joe. Joe tells Bob that great opportunities await him through the Gate and thousands of years in his future. By way of demonstration, Joe tosses Bob's hat into the Gate. It disappears.

Although it wasn't published in Analog in the 1990's, the story has been repeatedly anthologised in various magazines including a joint Amazing/Analog Reader in 1972.

You can read a full version online here.

  • Hi @Richard, thank you for the link to that story and the suggestion. I read the story, and I can confirm that this is definitely not the story I was thinking of. If I can think of any other details about the story I'm trying to find, I'll be sure to post them, but for now I'm still having no luck in identifying it. Thanks again.
    – callahan09
    Jun 24, 2014 at 13:51

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