I recall reading a short story where a doctor (not the doctor) time travels and brings modern medicine to ancient rome (I think).

The improved health leads to massive overpopulation in the present, despite technological advances that remove the oceans to make more surface area, and cities that build far underground and tall skyscrapers, etc.

Then, another time traveler is sent back in time to murder the first.

I probably read this sometime in the early 2000's or late 1990's.

1 Answer 1


I think this is "The Deadly Mission of Phineas Snodgrass" by Frederik Pohl, first published in Galaxy in June 1962.

It is apparently a satire of L. Sprague de Camp's 1939 novel Lest Darkness Fall, which has a similar premise, except that everything goes fine and the Dark Ages are averted. The Wikipedia page for Lest Darkness Fall has a mention of "Snodgrass", which is how I found out about the latter, and gives the following plot summary:

A response to this story is "The Deadly Mission of Phineas Snodgrass" by Frederik Pohl, in which a man travels back to 1 BC and teaches modern medicine, causing a population explosion. It ends with the fantastically overpopulated alternate timeline sending someone back to assassinate the title character, allowing darkness to fall for thankful billions.

  • That's it! Thanks!
    – Dan Burden
    Jul 28, 2015 at 21:27

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