“Aristotle and the Gun,” L. Sprague de Camp, 1958 – A scientist travels back in time to try to teach Aristotle the scientific method and, thus, change his present. He pretends to be a traveler from India–replete with marvelous, new inventions. He attempts to seduce Aristotle to the dark side of direct experimentation, but his efforts are thwarted by Aristotle’s students, including Alexander the Great. He finds himself on trial. He’s about to defend himself with a handgun when he’s suddenly transported to the present. However, it’s a present that’s been affected by Aristotle’s denunciation of experimentation, a backwards, incurious society in which the America from which the scientist came is now an intellectual impossibility.
Comments: Read in Modern Classics of Science Fiction. Editor Gardner Dozois comments that the story reveals de Camp “at the height of his powers, writing in his usual vivid, erudite, and slyly witty way about some of the subjects–and the historical personages–that interested him the most.”
Author: Wikipedia: “Lyon Sprague de Camp (November 27, 1907 – November 6, 2000) was an American author of science fiction and fantasy books, non-fiction and biography. In a writing career spanning 60 years, he wrote over 100 books, including novels and notable works of non-fiction, including biographies of other important fantasy authors….De Camp was a materialist who wrote works examining society, history, technology and myth. He published numerous short stories, novels, non-fiction works and poems during his long career.”