Twilight (short story)

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Author John W. Campbell
Country  USA
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction short story
Published in Astounding Stories
Media type Print (Magazine)
Publication date 1934

"Twilight" is a science fiction short story by John W. Campbell originally published in 1934 in Astounding Stories. In 1970, it was selected as one of the best science fiction short stories published before the creation of the Nebula Awards by the Science Fiction Writers of America. As such, it was published in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929-1964.

Plot summary[edit]

The narrator relates his conversation with an oddly dressed man whom he had picked up by the side of the road. The traveler claimed to have been from 2000 years in the future, and to have developed time-travel technology with which he had first traveled 7 million years forward in time. He then overshot on his return trip, landing himself in 1932.

In the future, Man has colonized the solar system but is dying out. Human existence is free of difficulty, as all illness and predators have been eliminated, and all work is done by perfect machines. However, humans have lost their curiosity, drive, and lastly their technological knowledge. As a result, they have accomplished nothing new in about two million years. Before leaving the future, the time traveler activates intelligent machines that he hopes will allow Man's creations, if not Man himself, to strive and evolve.

Critical reception[edit]

Algis Budrys said that "Twilight" "attracted a decade-long series of engineers/mystics as the archetypical writers of the 'Golden Age' and brought about the late Victorian Edwardian flavor of 'Modern' science fiction."[1]

Everett F. Bleiler concluded: "'Twilight' conveys a mood. It is probably Campbell's best story, with many implications beyond the story level.".[2]


  1. ^ "Books", F&SF, October 1979, p.30
  2. ^ E. F. Bleiler, Science-Fiction: The Gernsback Years, Kent State University Press, 1998, p.421