“Back” appeared in the June 2008 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. It was a Finalist for the 2008 Aurora Awards.
“Back” follows two time machine inventors who become famous when they send small objects back in time; but the real breakthrough will come when they can send a sentient being to the past–and retrieve him to the present.
Short Fiction Review writes:
“Back” by Susan Forest is so nicely written a short story–one of those familiar little time paradox stories we’ve been enjoying in Analog lately–that I’m almost ashamed to have to point out that the ending requires the story’s hero to forget a truly obvious detail. Read the story, you’ll enjoy it.
SFRevu columnist Lawrence M. Schoen writes in Buffalogistics:
Susan Forest’s “Back” is set in a near future in which two friends, Alan and Victor, are working on a time machine, using Victor’s knowledge and Alan’s money inherited from a rich uncle with the same name. Let’s just say they run into problems proving it actually worked and something predictable happens, but still, this was a fun read.
The Internet Review of Science Fiction writes:
Alan and Victor are partners in the attempt to build a working time machine. They know that they will succeed, because on the day they rent the warehouse they are going to use for their experiments, a note appears on a desk: “It worked!” Over the years, they succeed in sending various objects and then organisms back in time, but the real test is in returning them to the present. They train chimps to activate a return switch, but while the chimps disappear, they never come back. Sensing failure, their backers pull out, their reputation is ruined, and finally Alan and Victor have a falling out. But both, in their own different ways, are determined to solve the problem. A clever look at an old SFnal problem.
“Back” is available on Susan’s Curious Fictions page.