“The Men Who Murdered Mohammed,” Alfred Bester, 1958 – Henry Hassel discovers his wife is cheating on him and he murders her. Unsatisfied, the genius invents a time travel machine in order to eliminate her from the timeline altogether. After traveling back in time to kill her grandfather, he returns to the present with the expectation that she has been erased only to find her not only alive but still cheating on him. He makes several attempts to wipe out her bloodline without success. Desperate, he begins killing historical figures (George Washington, Enrico Fermi, Mohammed, etc.) in order to prove that he’s having some affect on the timeline, to no avail. Eventually he encounters another time traveler, Lennox; Lennox is also stranded, having sought also to alter the timeline; he killed Einstein, Marco Polo, and Mohammed, as well. Lennox explains that his actions have only succeeded in wiping out his personal timeline. All other timelines exist in “billions of other continua” (Wikipedia), and thus he has accomplished nothing but stranding himself in time.
Comments: Bester’s classic time travel tale. Read in Great Tales of SF. Although a fan of Bester, where some find this a humorous story, on first read I found it disturbing for the violence.
Author: Wikipedia: “Alfred Bester (December 18, 1913 – September 30, 1987) was an American science fiction author, TV and radio scriptwriter, magazine editor and scripter for comic strips and comic books. Though successful in all these fields, he is probably best remembered today for his work as a science fiction author, and as the winner of the first Hugo Award in 1953 for his novel The Demolished Man.”