Escape Pod Flash: Grandpa?

By Edward M Lerner Read by Ben Phillips

The lecture hall was pleasantly warm. Behind Prof. Thaddeus Fitch, busily writing on the chalkboard,
pencils scratched earnestly in spiral notebooks, fluorescent lights hummed, feet shuffled. A Beach
Boys tune wafted in through open windows from the quad.
“And so,” he continued, “travel backwards in time would violate causality, and hence appears to be impossible.” He turned to face the class. “The problem is most commonly illustrated with the ‘Grandfather Paradox.’

Rated PG for paradoxical violence.

Be sure to check out Mr. Lerner’s new book, FOOLS’ EXPERIMENTS.

Comments (12)

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  1. CaroCogitatus says:

    I usually don’t see the twist before it’s sprung on me, but I saw this one coming.

    The story was interesting and amusing, but I was struck that the physics professor was wholly uninterested in the demonstrated evidence that causality is preserved (How? What is the mechanism? Can it be predicted? Can it be altered? He asks none of these questions), and the huuuuuuge fact that apparently time travel IS possible.

    But no, he just goes on teaching that “time travel is impossible” day after day, despite physical evidence to the contrary. I metaphorically walked out of his classroom when I realized that.

    Then again, it was a Flash piece. Maybe I should just relax.

  2. L33tminion says:

    His lecture just says that it appears to be impossible. I thought he resumed the lecture after (evidently) being proved wrong because he wanted to see what would happen next.

    I’m still wondering why future grandson was so determined to kill his ancestor.

    But I thought it was extremely funny that the one who delivered the Take That to causality wasn’t the grandson, but the professor. After all, just who traveled back in time and persuaded him that he shouldn’t have kids?

  3. phignewton says:


  4. scatterbrain says:

    Can the paradox really work just one way? How is that possible if history is already written in the “flow” of time?

  5. Ken_K says:

    Despite what the big brains in physics say, time travel still seems impossible to me, and so the “suspension of disbelief” mindset so necessary for good sci-fi was hard to establish. At least it was for me.

  6. […] Escape Pod Flash:  Grandpa? by Edward M. Lerner. […]

  7. Enjoyed this one, and the revived intrest in Flash Fiction on EP

  8. MasterThief says:

    A chuckle-worthy ending.

  9. Blaine Boy says:

    Maybe it’s not time travel. (Sorry guys, conspiracy theory coming…)

    Maybe it’s a travel through parallel universes where the guy actually has a grandson so the travel back through time is actually into another universe so the course of a different universe is changed but since the universe that was traveled into is set up for a different chain of events which means that causality (or whatever) has to save the professor.

    If you understood any of that, kudos.

    the Blaine Boy

  10. Aryz says:

    I really appreciate the entry on this site. But no matter how weird it may sound, it may be possible due to the technological advances that we are attaining theses days. But that would be in the long future.

  11. ruthdabu says:

    I think this story is great! There are lots of points which can be used in out daily lives. I hope there are lots of these kinds later on.

  12. Starpod says:

    Loved it, sent the link to a friend and now she is an Escapepodist too.