|"Under Coogan's Bluff"|
|First Appearance||The National Pastime: The Future According to Baseball|
|Publisher||Society for American Baseball Research|
|Publication date||July 30, 2021|
"Under Coogan's Bluff" is a short science fiction story by Harry Turtledove, first published in The National Pastime: The Future According to Baseball on July 30, 2021. It may be read at the Society for American Baseball Research website.
It appears that time travel was invented sometime in the 21st century, and it became a fad for modern baseball teams to go back into the past and play against historic legends. In the story, the Los Angeles Angels from 2040 face off against the New York Giants on their home turf in 1905. An Angel named Joshua Kaplan narrates his story of facing off against legendary Giants such as John McGraw and Christy Mathewson, while observing cultural shifts over time in matters such as race.
It is unclear whether the story is alternate history. It treats time travel in a tongue-in-cheek manner, with all of its far reaching consequences left unaddressed and unexplored. One would think that repeated exposure to a harmonious all-inclusive future would cause the people of 1905 to reexamined their mores and ruminate on invention, among other matters, severely altering the course of the 20th century. But Turtledove does not dwell on this, preferring instead to focus on humorous meetings between men of different eras.
Similar themes in works by Turtledove
In "Hindsight," an author of speculative fiction travels back in time from 1988 or so to 1953, to write science fiction parables that will warn the American people off their tragic course and lead to a more ideal world in the 1960s onward. Whether she will actually have any impact is left unrevealed.
In "We Haven't Got There Yet," a time-displaced acting troupe from the mid 21st century arrives at the dawn of the 17th. Playing 20th-century works for their supper, they find that William Shakespeare is in their audience. The question of whether Shakespeare's interaction with these visitors will alter his life's trajectory is asked but not answered.
While the above two stories bring up the question of historical alteration without answering it, "Under Coogan's Bluff" does not even ask it.