By His Bootstraps

By His Bootstraps
Publication date:1941.10
Genre:Science fiction short story
Preceded by:Elsewhen
Followed by:Common sense
Wikipedia page

“By His Bootstraps” is a science fiction short story by Robert A. Heinlein. The story was originally published in the October 1941 issue of “Astounding Science‐Fiction” under the pen name Anson MacDonald. Under the title “The Time Gate,” it was also included in a 1958 Crest paperback anthology: “Race to the Stars.”


Bob Wilson locks himself in his room to finish his graduate thesis on a mathematical aspect of metaphysics, using the concept of time travel as a case in point. Someone says, “Don’t bother with it. It’s a lot of utter hogwash anyhow.” The interloper, who looks strangely familiar, calls himself “Joe” and explains that he has come from the future through a Time Gate, a circle about six feet in diameter in the air behind Joe. Joe plies Bob with drink, which Joe inexplicably retrieves from its hiding place in the apartment, and Bob becomes intoxicated. Finally, Joe is about to manhandle Bob through the Gate when another man appears, one who looks very much like Joe. The newcomer does not want Bob to go. During the ensuing fight, Bob gets punched, sending him through the Gate…