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The plot is essentially a plea by two scientists to a courtroom. They are being prosecuted for blowing up a government project and half of Arizona. They were the builders of a time travel device and had returned to their office late one evening and found an intruder operating the machine. The intruder's note says he has gone to 1st Century Jerusalem to rescue Christ from crucifixion. The physics of the device mean stopping the intruder means that the machine goes bang... Does it seem familiar to anyone?

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This is The Rescuer by Arthur Porges.

The story can be divided into 2 parts. In the first part of the story there is a description of the “time-machine”, in fact the author talks about the development, the characteristics and the cost of the special machine. In the second part of the story there is a report regarding the “Preliminary Hearing”: the USA court versus Dr Carnot and Dr Kent. Judge Clark asks Dr Carnot a series of questions about the destruction of the time-machine. Dr Carnot reveals to the court that he and Dr Kent had destroyed the time-machine because a “madman”, Michael Nauss, wanted to go back to the past to rescue Jesus Christ from the Roman soldiers in order to save him from crucifixion. Nauss had very good chances of succeeding because he brought with him a repeating rifle. The two scientists feared the consequences of Nauss’s action on the whole path of history in the lost two thousand years and therefore destroyed the time-machine. (ln 158: A little change at the source can make a tremendous difference at the mouth). The situation was very dangerous and there was no time to lose. They wanted to prevent him arriving in the past. As the present is linked to the past, he could change the course of history.

You can read most of it online here.

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  • 1
    Richard, spot on, that's it! Well done and thank you.
    – Max
    Jan 27, 2015 at 8:47
  • 2
    Don't forget to mark this as "accepted" :-)
    – Valorum
    Jan 27, 2015 at 9:00
  • the link at the end takes me to a google book search for "It was by far the largest, most intricate machine ever"
    – Malachi
    Jan 27, 2015 at 20:23
  • @Malachi - Yes, the book is still on copyright so the best you'll find online (from a legal source) is google books which contains a substantial preview of the story.
    – Valorum
    Jan 27, 2015 at 20:24

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