Allen Steele promised himself he’d never write a time-travel story, but nevertheless, here it is. In his introduction to this audio version, he explains that he didn’t want to write about something he thought was impossible, but one of his friends challenged him to write a story that could overcome his own doubts. And thus we have …Where Angels Fear to Tread.
There are two timelines going on in …Where Angels Fear to Tread. In one, time travelers from the future go back to study the cause of the Hindenburg explosion. In the other timeline, Dr. Murphy, a modern day scientist who is embarrassed to work for the government’s Office for Paranormal Sciences, investigates UFO sightings. The two stories converge when the Hindenburg doesn’t explode on schedule and a paradox is created.
This story was exciting and fun once we left the tiresome bar scene at the beginning. I loved the idea that UFOs are time travelers — it explains UFO sightings and also explains why we (think we) don’t see time travelers. I also loved the ending of this story which celebrates the influence of science fiction on scientific progress. That’s a beautiful thought. (But, sorry Mr. Steele, you still haven’t convinced me that time travel is possible, and I don’t think you’ve convinced yourself, either.)
…Where Angels Fear to Tread was originally published in the 1997 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. It won, among others, the Hugo and Locus Awards, and was nominated for the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon Awards. Allen Steel later expanded …Where Angels Fear to Tread into the novel Chronospace. I listened to Audible Frontier’s 3-hour long version read by the magnificent Marc Vietor.