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Crossroads of Destiny

H. Beam Piper

Book Overview: 

A short story by H. Beam Piper, with an interesting twist at the end

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .storic event and show how history could have been changed if something had happened differently. We dramatize the event up to that point just as it really happened, and then a commentary-voice comes on and announces that this is the Crossroads of Destiny; this is where history could have been completely changed. Then he gives a resumé of what really did happen, and then he says, 'But—suppose so and so had done this and that, instead of such and such.' Then we pick up the dramatization at that point, only we show it the way it might have happened. Like this thing about Columbus; we'll show how it could have happened, and end with Columbus wading ashore with his sword in one hand and a flag in the other, just like the painting, only it'll be the English flag, and Columbus will shout: 'I take possession of this new land in the name of His Majesty, Henry the Seventh of England!'" He brandished his drink, to the visible consternation of the elderly man beside him.. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Blurbs for books. Days are we write so many of them we could just . . . well. But it's clear we aren't the only ones who feel this way. H. Beam Piper sold "Crossroads of Destiny" to "Fantastic Universe Science Fiction," which published it in their July 1959 issue. "No wonder he'd been so interest...more

An OK read but nothing to get excited about and track down. I'm a huge Piper fan (Lone Star Planet! Yee Haw!!) but this tale was very typical 1950's SF in that it could have been any of a dozen writers who knocked it out. Not bad, but not what I expect from this author.

Like many of the classic SF short stories I've been reading lately, this one has a wonderful twist. While it's not particularly compelling—more of a hypothetical thought experiment with little actual applicability—this was nevertheless a fun little surprise.

I'm shook

I came across this story and having already read some of Piper's work in the past gave into the urge to read it. It was a pleasant way to spend half an hour.

Clever, but not memorable. And, no need to know the other works referenced or to have familiarity with the mc, as this stands alone.

It was a good short story. Introducing an idea and building up to the conclusion, in such short story, it is a job well done.

A short sci-fi story with a nice twist at the end.

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