Short story about a man who has duplicates of himself appear behind him [duplicate]

KennVFRidr 06/18/2018. 2 answers, 4.458 views
story-identification short-stories

The story begins with a writer sitting at typewriter, he senses something behind him, he turns to see a shimmering disc floating in the air. Suddenly a man falls out of the disc, and it is a duplicate of himself... a second duplicate jumps out of the disc and a scuffle ensues. The writer is pushed into the disc and falls through it into a corridor. As the story unfolds, the writer becomes each of the duplicates in his efforts to return to his own dimension.

I read the story in a book of short sci-fi stories around 1972/73 and I'd love to read it again. Does anyone know what this is?

2 Answers


Happy Robot 06/19/2018.

With the exception that it's about time travel rather than alternate dimensions, this sounds a lot like "By His Bootstraps" by Robert Heinlein.

From Wikipedia:

Bob Wilson locks himself in his room to finish his graduate thesis on a mathematical aspect of metaphysics, using the concept of time travel as a case in point. Someone says, "Don't bother with it. It's a lot of utter hogwash anyhow." The interloper, who looks strangely familiar, calls himself "Joe" and explains that he has come from the future through a Time Gate, a circle about 6 ft (1.8 m) in diameter in the air behind Joe

....And somewhat later in the story...

Without much memory of what happened before, he reenacts the scene, this time from the other point of view, and calling himself "Joe" so as not to confuse his earlier self. Just as he is about to shove Bob through the Gate, another version of himself shows up. The fight happens as before, and Bob goes through the Gate.


Daniel Roseman 06/18/2018.

This sounds like the classic story "By His Bootstraps", by Robert Heinlein.

From Wikipedia:

Bob Wilson locks himself in his room to finish his graduate thesis on a mathematical aspect of metaphysics, using the concept of time travel as a case in point. Someone says, "Don't bother with it. It's a lot of utter hogwash anyhow." The interloper, who looks strangely familiar, calls himself "Joe" and explains that he has come from the future through a Time Gate, a circle about 6 ft (1.8 m) in diameter in the air behind Joe. Joe tells Bob that great opportunities await him through the Gate and thousands of years in his future. By way of demonstration, Joe tosses Bob's hat into the Gate. It disappears.

Bob is reluctant. Joe plies him with drink, which Joe (a stranger, from Bob's point of view) inexplicably retrieves from its hiding place in Bob's apartment, and Bob becomes intoxicated. Finally, Joe is about to manhandle Bob through the Gate when another man appears, one who looks very much like Joe. The newcomer does not want Bob to go. During the ensuing fight, Bob gets punched, sending him through the Gate.

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