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I have been trying on and off for years to find a short story I would have read in an anthology during the 80s, but was probably originally a bit older. It was about time travelers from a distant future in which humanity was [mysteriously] dying due to having exhausted its genetic potential. That civilization had determined that there was a population bottleneck in the last ice age when humanity had been reduced to a really small number- one band of survivors. They decided to save just one extra person from dying during a perilous trek through an icy wilderness, thereby adding millennia to humanity's downstream genetic viability.

Time travel complications probably ensued.

I cannot remember title, author, or exact plot. And random googling has proved most ineffective.

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    I have not found a short story that matches yet, but the "Sunset Saga" discussed at jameslafond.com/?c=3 is a tetratology of books involving time travellers, a lack of genetic potential, and ice ages. It looks like it's all much more recent work, though. – FuzzyBoots Jul 21 '14 at 17:10
  • It sounded a bit like "Worthing Saga" by Orson Scott Card, which was based on a short story he wrote previously. It didnt include the generic potential thought. – Jim McKeeth Jul 21 '14 at 22:23
  • @JimMcKeeth: I have The Worthing Saga at home, and I'm not getting the similarities at all. There's no time travel in Jason Worthing's universe, for one thing. There are also no real ice ages discussed, though there are at least two occasions of reasonably harsh winters I recall. – James Sheridan Jul 22 '14 at 0:24
  • @JamesSheridan the Tweet I followed here didnt mention the genetic diveristy, but from what I remember in the opening of the Worthing Saga it is during an ice age of sorts, and then the two characters show up to have their history written. They weren't time travelers in the typical sense, but thanks to the hot sleep they traveled through time at a different rate (much slower) and came from a more advanced age (which happened to be in the past). Not a lot of similarities with the whole description, but based on the shortened title in the tweet I got excited thinking i had the answer. – Jim McKeeth Jul 22 '14 at 0:31
  • @JimMcKeeth: Ah, I see where you're coming from. I recall that they just happened to arrive in winter, not that it was an ice age, but I understand what you were getting at now. I was always confused, with that book, as to how they arrived from Worthing so quickly; Justice appears to have telepathically interfered with the village only a few years earlier at the most, certainly within the protagonist's lifetime - and he was a teenager at the most - and FTL-travel was non-existent, hence Somec, the "hot sleep" you mentioned. Always thought that was a plot-hole. – James Sheridan Jul 22 '14 at 0:59
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The manga Saber Tiger, (1981), by Yukinobu Hoshino has all of the elements you describe, except that the small group of humanity's ancestors is being killed off one-by-one by a saber-tooth tiger. The time travelers go back to kill the tiger with their modern weaponry.

The manga is available online here.

  • Plot summary at the bottom of goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2013/05/30/… seems to fit well with Graham's description, and it was published in a book that paired it with another story (The Planet of the Unicorn), so that's pretty close to Graham's memory of reading it in an anthology in the 80s. – Hypnosifl Jul 22 '14 at 14:53

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