Enough years ago to make my recollection extremely hazy and vague, I came across a short story in a collection. In this story, time-travel had become a popular option for study, research and holidays. Everyone engaged in such travel was well coached in the customs of the time and place they were visiting, given as much history as was known, and told how much they had to fit in with what had happened, rather than interfering with the time-stream.
The hero of the story wants to see for himself the events of Holy Week. He goes back to the time of Jesus’ trial – immersed in the known detail of the gospels and first-century historians so that he won’t make any mistakes.
He hears Pilate ask the crowd what should be done with Jesus. Knowing the script, he shouts with many others “Crucify him.” Around him some others look on stunned, saddened and aghast. He cries again with many others in the crowd: “Crucify him”, and then events play out as the gospels narrate.
Slowly, he realises that all those crying “Crucify” were, like him, travellers from the future, following the gospels’ script, whatever their faith, anxious not to upset this most crucial bit of history. But the locals, those Jews indigenous to the time-stream, are the quiet, the sad, the horrified.
Going back, determined not to change history, the time-travellers are the ones who made the history they visit what it was. Left to themselves, the Jewish people of the first century would never have had Jesus crucified.
That story is I think, a particularly provocative and subtle use of the SF staple of a temporal paradox. But I can’t remember what it’s called, who wrote it, or where I read it. Or even, indeed, if in my memory I have somewhat re-written it into something else.
But if you think you might know where I can find it, please leave a comment below.