Would time travelers go back to the year 2020 in the middle of the pandemic? It doesn’t seem like the ideal time to travel to if one had the choice, but that is the premise of this little poignant story.

Rupert is a time travel agent of some sort and goes back to 2020 Las Vegas on a research mission. He walks around and observe the people behind their masks while being bored that nothing really happens. He comes across a sign on a bar that says there is a time travelers meeting last Thursday in the bar. So he starts jumping backwards a week at a time hoping to find the meeting.

This story doesn’t involve the usual time travel side effects or paradoxes. It is a pretty mellow and casually philosophical piece on the nature of fate and obviously a reflection of the Covid lockdown. It is a good story, but I think it would have had a bigger impact if it was published when the pandemic was at its highest.

Read in Asimov’s May/June 2024
Rating: 3