The Technology of Omniscience: Past Viewers in Science Fiction

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Baxter, Stephen. "The Technology of Omniscience: Past Viewers in Science Fiction." Foundation 80 (Autumn 2000): pp. 97-107.

By a practitioner of the form, a quick but extensive overview of the "classic hard-sf technique" of building "a story by extrapolating from a single striking scientific premise: in this case [...] a gadget with quite limited properties [...], allowing one to view the past but not the future — and not to alter the course of history" (except, of course, if something goes wrong, or very, plot-worthy wrong). Early in the essay, Baxter states "The purpose of this brief survey is to use past-viewer fiction as a case study: to show how science fiction writers over the genre's history have used differing techniques to spin very variant stories from the same root idea," starting with how they've made "such an outlandish notion as a past viewer [...] scientifically feasible" in the worlds of the stories, hence, for the reader while reading, plausible (Baxter p. 97).

Baxter mentions and at least briefly states the premise of a number of works (Notes, pp. 106-07).

Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke's novel The Light of Other Days. 2000.
Benford,  Greg. "Time Shards". 1986.
Ballard,  J. G. "The Sound-Sweep". 1960.
Baxter, Stephen. "Traces". 1991.
Bell, Eric Temple (writing as John Taine). Before the Dawn. 1934.
Chancellor, J. W. Through the Visograph. 1928.
Palmer, R. A. "Matter Is Conserved". 1938.
Gold, Horace. "The Biography Project". 1951.
Tenn, William. "Brooklyn Project". 1948.
Ballard, J. G. "The Greatest Television Show on Earth". 1972.
Harrison, Harry. The Technicolor Time Machine. 1967.
Card, Orson Scott. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. 1996.
Brown, Eric. "The Time-Lapsed Man". 1988.
de Camp, L. Sprague. "Balsamo's Mirror". 1976.
McKenna, Richard. "The Secret Place". 1966.
Lewis, C. S. The Dark Tower. 1977.
Aldiss, Brian. An Age. 1967.
McKenna, Richard. "The Secret Place". 1966.
Kaw (sic: pseudonym). "The Time Eliminator". 1926.
Hunting, Gardner. The Vicarion. 1926.
Wyndham, John. "Operation Peep". 1951.
Clarke, Arthur C. "The Parasite". 1953.
Clarke, Arthur C. Childhood's End. 1953.
Sherred, T. L. "E for Effort". 1947.
Padgett, Lewis. "Private Eye". 1949.
Knight, Damon. "I See You". 1976.
Asimov, Isaac. "The Dead Past". 1973.
Shaw, Bob. "Light of Other Days". 1966.
Shaw, Bob. Other Days, Other Eyes. 1972