Sunday, October 21, 2012

L Sprague de Camp's "Aristotle and the Gun" (novelette, butterfly effect, free): Teaching the scientific method to Aristotle

One of the illustrations by Freas accompanying the publication in Astounding Science Fiction British edition of short story Aristotle and the Gun by L Sprague de Camp
This is among the more entertaining time travel stories I've seen. It also happens to be a widely anthologized one.

Story summary.

Won't our world be far more advanced if Aristotle practiced & preached the scientific method (since he was so influential)?

So a US physicist takes his time machine for a 9 week vacation in Macedon, to a time where Aristotle is teaching Alexander. Since this ancient world doesn't know about US, he poses as a philosopher from India: Chandra of Pataliputra, distorted as Zandras in Hellenic, & will further be distorted to Sandos of Palibothra in history books.

Story is of his adventures in Macedon, & later, in his own time, to the transformed world he has created - only, it's transformed along a very unexpected direction...

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, February 1958.
Download full text as part of the scans of Astounding (British edition), May 1958.
Rating: A.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of L Sprague de Camp.