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I remember reading an older sci-fi book (maybe 50s-60s?) about a professional team of time travellers which operated outside the light cone to avoid breaking causality. Their purpose is to travel to remote planets and manipulate the society for their own ends.

The book covers one such mission, to a planet where the inhabitant live in trees and their architecture and furniture are fashioned out of the trees. Unfortunately I'm very hazy on the rest of the details. I remember the book's quality was very mediocre, the author definitely not one of the great writers, and there's a plot twist (which sci-fi story doesn't?) and the team doesn't make it out completely, some might have even stayed.

  • What is the plat twist? – user14111 Dec 20 '15 at 3:52
  • Newton's Landing may be related somehow to the book you're looking for (perhaps inspired by?). It is far too recent to be what you're looking for, and the storyline doesn't match...however, it uses the term "light-cones" in connection to "chronology protection" (as I understand it, the FTL can go back in time, and the light cones prevent this, which matches your setup). I noticed the strong similarities from the quotes on this question post - scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/82167/… – Megha Dec 21 '15 at 9:18
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You might look at the Time Trader series, by Andre Norton, first published in 1958. The series includes a team of time travelers, they spend several books operating on other planets, they try to manipulate history to their own ends.

I do not recall a mission where everything is made out of trees, but there's at least one more book in the series than I've read. There are several plot twists, and at least one book where members of a team go native, shall we say. Additionally, I didn't find the quality mediocre, I like the author's works a great deal, but I understand opinions can vary. I hope this helps.

text of the available works: The Time Traders - Galactic Derelict - Defiant Agents - Key Out of Time

  • Is there anything about The Time Traders that matches the OP's description, besides being a time travel story? – user14111 Dec 20 '15 at 3:53
  • @user14111 Perhaps I should have used bullet points. Sorry it's not more clear. The going to other (remote) worlds is one of the largest, usually time travelers spend more time in our history than focusing on space travel, it is a strong match for me. There are missions which deal with the natives of other worlds, I might not recall trees specifically but it isn't out of place. And the line about the team not making it out completely, with perhaps some staying, reminds me of one of the missions where a number of agents end up staying. – Megha Dec 20 '15 at 4:22

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