Alternate Universe: He Walked Around the Horses

Napoleon

 

I’ve decided to use a second story with time travel as a plot part in my Science Fiction class, so I asked all my geeky friends on facebook what they’d suggest.  And I have a LOT of geeky friends.  One of the titles thrown my way was “He Walked Around the Horses” by Henry Beam Piper (thanks, Sabrina!).  While I won’t be using it in class–more to do with alternate universe theory and less to do with time travel, per se, and requires far too much Enlightenment European history for me to try to explain–I absolutely LOVED the story.

While it was first published in 1948, the story is set in 1809 and the language conforms to this.  I’m fine with that; bring on the esoteric vocabulary, please. The story is rather epistolary, as well, set up as a series of letters and police reports sent among a small group of police and government officials in Prussia and London, as well as the statements of a saloon keeper, a couple of peasant workers, and the central mysterious figure of Benjamin Bathurst.

Benjamin Bathurst

I don’t want to give anything away, but I loved how the reader gets more information with each report, with things seen from a different perspective.  As a love of mystery novels and detective fiction, this is right in my wheelhouse.

For anyone who loves history (American Revolution, the subsequent French Revolution, the rise of NapoleonWellington, etc.), this is the story for you.  Wonderfully written, great character touches, and a lovely sardonic ending line all waiting just for you!

You can read it online for free from Project Gutenberg!

CITATION: Piper, Henry Beam. “He Walked Around the Horses.” Astounding Science Fiction, April 1948. Project Gutenberg. Web. 3 Oct. 2014. 

This blog entry originally posted on my school blog as a sample for students. 

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