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I can not remember the author, but this seems was Ray Bradbury. However, I've already read couple of his short stories, which would be matched by titles, and found nothing. It's probably not Ray Bradbury but someone who wrote around the same time: between 1950 and 1990.


The story starts with one time-traveler, he starts his travel in something like a U-boat/Time-Travel-Boat. After a while, another version of him appeared right inside this "Time-Travel-Boat". Thereafter, a third version, and then the next one, next one, next one, etc...

After some time, there were 20+ of him (may be 600 - six hundred). Some of them were from his childhood, and were very young. Others, on the opposite, were very old, with beards.

Everything mixed up. And such very-very funny chaos happened on this "Time-Travel-Boat".


  • I think it was short story.

  • By "U-boat" I'm meaning environment of action, something like a "U-boat", a closed/isolated atmosphere, without any chance of escape from it.

  • "funny chaos": because all of this 20+ persons - was one man, he knew everything about this place, about himself, about each of this 20+ crew members, about all this story, etc... And everyday life is turning in something very different.

  • The story is humorous, and each new "copy of him", makes the story more-and-more fun. Certainly, it was not a philosophical insight on time-traveling, though, I'm still thinking about this concept of duplication of personality.

  • There isn't any sex in it.

  • There are no other characters. Only copies/duplicates of the main character.

  • It might be one of Heinlein's "Lazarus Long" stories, but it's been decades since I read them. – Mick Dec 31 '19 at 16:20
  • @Mick, no "Lazarus Long" stories doesn't match as I can see from wikipedia. – Time_traveler_Number_One Jan 1 at 9:14
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    Hmm, who recommended the "migration" of the question? Cross-posting questions is usually frowned upon. – IkWeetHetOokNiet Jan 1 at 16:25
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    It's true that cross-posting question, whether your own or not, is sort of frowned upon here unless there's a very good reason. Since it's got a good answer here now, I'd prefer to leave this question as it is. In the future, if you think your question belongs on another site - raise a custom moderator flag and explain the issue. I'll be happy to help. – Gallifreyan Jan 11 at 23:01
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This sounds very like ‘The Seventh Voyage of Ijon Tichy’ by Stanisław Lem, collected in The Star Diaries. The collection was first published in Polish as Dzienniki Gwiazdowe in 1957; the English translation by Michael Kandel appeared in 1976. This story has all the features you remembered:

  • Ijon Tichy is travelling alone in a spaceship:

    It was on a Monday, April second—I was cruising in thie vicinity of Betelgeuse—when a meteor no larger than a lima bean pierced the hull, shattered the drive regulator and part of the rudder, as a result of which the rocket lost all maneouverability. I put on my spacesuit, went outside and tried to fix the mechanism, but found I couldn’t possibly attach the spare rudder—which I’d had the foresight to bring along—without the help of another man.

  • His spaceship gets caught in a region of time vortices:

    Unfortunately this was a complete stellar wilderness, avoided by all vessels as a region unusually dangerous, for in it lay gravitational vortices, as formidable as they were mysterious, one hundred and forty-seven of them in all […]

    A thick volume of the General Theory of Relativity […] spoke of the manifestation of the ‘time loop,’ that is, the bending of the direction of the flow of time in the presence of gravitational fields of great intensity, which phenomenon might even on occasion lead to the complete reversal of time and the ‘duplication of the present.’

  • Another version of Tichy appears inside the spaceship:

    I opened my eyes and saw a man standing over the bed; his face was strangely familiar, though I hadn’t the faintest idea who this could be.

    ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘and take the pliers, we’re going out and screwing on the rudder bolts’ […]

    ‘Don’t you recognize me? Look here!’

    And saying this, he pointed to the two warts, big as strawberries, on his left cheek. Instinctively I clutched my own face, for yes, I had two warts, exactly the same, and in that very place.

  • More copies of Tichy appear:

    ‘From what day of the week are you?’

    ‘Wednesday,’ he said. ‘Come on, let’s get that rudder fixed while we have the chance!’

    ‘But where’s the Monday me?’ I asked.

    ‘Gone. Which means, I suppose, that you are he.’

    ‘How is that?’

    ‘Well, the Monday me on Monday night became, Tuesday morning, the Tuesday me, and so on.’

  • The copies are farcically unable to co-operate in fixing the rudder:

    And so we quarreled, in opposite roles, during which he did in fact drive me into a positive fury, for he persistently refused to fix the rudder and it did no good calling him pigheaded and a stubborn mule. And when at last I managed to convince him, we plunged into the next gravitational vortex.

  • The more copies turn up, the more chaotic it becomes:

    The problem was, who had hit whom, and when. The situation was complicated by the fact that there now had appeared morning me's and afternoon me's—I feared that if things went on like this, I would soon be broken into minutes and seconds—and then too, the majority of me's present were lying like mad, so that to this day I'm not altogether sure whom I hit and who hit me when that whole business took place, triangularly, between the Thursday, the Friday and the Wednesday me's all of whom I was in turn. My impression is that because I had lied to the Friday me, pretending to be the Sunday me, I ended up with one blow more than I should have, going by the calendar. But I would prefer not to dwell any longer on these unpleasant memories; a man who for an entire week does nothing but hit himself over the head has little reason to be proud.

  • The number of copies grows absurdly large:

    Upon passage through a particularly strong positive vortex we hardly fit in the cabin and corridor, and opening the hatch was out of the question—there simply wasn’t room.

  • There are copies of different ages:

    But the worst of it was, these time displacements were increasing in amplitude, a few grayhaired me’s had already appeared, and here and there I even caught a glimpse of the close-cropped heads of children, that is of myself, of course—or rather—myselves from the halcyon days of boyhood.

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Another Possibility - but not as close - might be "The Man Who Folded Himself". He ends up having relationships (and relations) with himself, though, and you said there was no sex in your original post.

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Do you think it might be "By His Bootstraps" by Heinlein? It takes place in a single room, rather than a boat, but the rest of it fits.

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    Welcome to the site! Your answers here would be better if you included a little bit of info about the story, e.g. quoting something from the link you've provided. Then the answer would be self-contained and people could judge whether or not it's correct without needing to read a separate page. – Rand al'Thor Jan 11 at 8:58
  • Thanks. I will do that. :) – Lanica Jan 11 at 23:10
  • Part of it takes place in a single room. There's also the part that takes place in the future in some enormous palace, and the part that takes place in the present but outside of the single room. The part that involves several versions of the one character does take place in that one room, though. – JRE Jan 13 at 9:49

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