I am looking for a book that I read when I was a teenager. My dad had owned it but it's gone now.

Some details that I remember are a group of 4 or 5 people travel back in time to various locations/times. For some reason I think a couch was involved.

I sort of remember them traveling as a group but then they are split up. They then gradually travel to each other's time period trying to gather everyone up again. Time has passed at different speeds for the different people.

One or maybe two of them end up in what I think was an alternate universe of the same time period. This is why I think it was set in the late 60s or early 70s because they encounter protestors and the police are trying to break up a riot. I think the police were dressed in pink(?). They were there only a short period.

One guy ended up in the Stone Age. He was there the longest, 20-30 years maybe. During that time he changes the course of human development because he teaches the primative people how to do metalworking, and to live in different communities.

Another guy travels to the future(?) and spends several months there. He is a out of shape guy and while he is there he is trained by someone to endure high levels of pain and push his body to the limits. I remember him doing a high dive from a very high location.

In the end after they have all found each other and they get back to their present time, they discover that it is completely changed, presumably because of what the one guy did in the stone age.

Does any of this sound familiar to anyone? I would love it if I could find this book again. Thanks

  • 1
    Initially, this sounded like Heinlein's 'Elsewhen' (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsewhen), but only the setup; the rest of is very different.. I look forward to hearing the answer, as I would like to read it :)
    – K-H-W
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 17:20
  • 4
    It sounds, almost, but not quite, entirely unlike The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 6:33
  • 1
    @AvnerShahar-Kashtan - there is definately hitchikers influence there. Some way or other. Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 9:47
  • see also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/156890/… (about an anthology containing this story)
    – Otis
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 18:31

3 Answers 3


Sounds like "The Great Time Machine Hoax" by Keith Laumer. There was a couch involved. When they traveled in time, everything in the immediate vicinity (including furniture) went with them. There were police in pink suits, and a man getting training in the future.

  • Kim Rudeen is right. It's definitely Keith Laumer's THE GREAT TIME MACHINE HOAX. The hoax bit is difficult to explain. The protagonists acquire a super-computer that is powerful to simulate the past to great precision. They plan to use it as a fake time machine instead it turns out the super-computer works as a time machine. Then as they say their troubles begin. It's a fun book.
    – JLH
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 10:28
  • I agree. I recognized that book too; I've read it in a collection of Keith Laumer works. Really like it, incidentally (and I didn't remember the couch, but would've said that was it anyway). Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 8:24
  • The cops in pink is a dead give-away. That's it. The ending is one of my favorite Laumer twists ever... "Psychosomatic!" indeed!
    – docwebhead
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 17:57

It all sounds very similar to the Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy trilogy as a whole. There are four main characters, they do travel both in time and to alternate dimensions, and are split up. Arthur and Ford travel back to prehistoric Earth, and returns to present day on a couch. While in the past, Ford claims to be responsible for the evolution of several animals.

  • And Arthur tries to (unsuccessfully) teach the other stone age people (not the Golgafrinchans-- the ones who presumably died out) some stuff as well. Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 9:14

The reference to the couch points directly at Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

  • Or to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
    – Tango
    Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 19:19
  • Good call on the couch, but the rest doesn't fit particularly well. Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 21:41
  • I'm still hopeful because Dirk Gently was so odd that I doubt anyone could remember it clearly after many years. All I could clearly remember was the time travel and the stuck couch.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 22:27
  • Pretty sure there's not much time travel in Dirk Gently. Space travel, yes. Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 16:12
  • 2
    @AdeleC - somewhat late for this comment, but there's an awful lot of time travel in Dirk Gently - it's one of the main plot point, as well as being responsible for how the couch gets stuck in the first place.
    – andrewsi
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 14:30

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