Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Malcolm Jameson's "When is When?" (short story, time travel, free)

An illustration accompanying the original publication in Astounding, August 1943 of short story titled When is When by Malcolm JamesonThis must be among the most illogical stories I've seen from Campbell-edited Astounding/Analog. The only redeeming part is the quote below. Someone familiar with history of Europe & Americas in 16th century may enjoy it a little more, but basic premise remains illogical.

Story summary.

Pope Gregory III decreed that the date following 4 October 1582 would be 15 October, with intervening dates gone in a time hole. OK - Pope had some arcane reasons to change the calender.

Different countries accept this date change at different times, sometimes two factions in a country accept this at different times.

These human-administered dates, & conflicts within the countries, change the behavior of mother nature's Time itself!! So time travelers to missing dates vanish in the void of no time, depending on target country! And a smart alec figures this out & gets it fixed by traveling to past & influencing Pope to restore the calender - hence rescuing the stranded.


  1. "Company rules, like the army regulations, covered every conceivable thing in the minutest detail. If a fellow learned them all & took care to never break a one - well, he never got in trouble, but likewise he never got far. Smash a rule & one of two things invariably happens. You either get kicked out, or somebody pins a medal on you."

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, August 1943.
Download full text as part of the scans of Astounding issue where it originally appeared.
Rating: C.
Among the stories from John Campbell's Astounding/Analog.
Related: Time travel in fiction; fiction from 1940s.