Time and Time Again
by H. Beam Piper

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Astounding Science Fiction, April 1947

collected in —
The Worlds of H. Beam Piper
The H. Beam Piper Megapack
January 2020

The mind & its times

"Time and Time Again" is an alternate-history story, creatively thoughtful and philosophical. It's H. Beam Piper's first story, not a part of his Paratime series, but it illustrates some of his foundational thinking which went into the Paratime complex of concepts. Clearly from the very beginning Piper was fascinated by whether the sequence of events is inevitable and singular and mono-directional; and depending on these, are knowledge and consciousness also inevitable, and so forth?

Precognition generally is defined as foreknowledge, paranormal knowledge of events to come. In "Time and Time Again" Piper deploys neatly-tuned theory to explain precognition or its effects without future perception, and without physical or mental time travel. We might say that he takes the all past and future moments coexist idea, and the all possible variants of actions coexist idea, and merges them. The latter he will develop as the basis of the inventive but realistic core Paratime stories. Where the first idea bears second-order exotic fruit is in his striking Paratime novella "Last Enemy".

Piper makes a reasoned case for precognition being not fantastic or paranormal but matter-of-fact, albeit uncommon. This entertaining little story doesn't have the grand sweep of those explicitly Paratime stories, but it is a mind-stretcher in its own way.


© 2020 Robert Wilfred Franson

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