The following story idea was submitted to SciFi Ideas by Jorgen Lundman.
This is a near-future story, about a Government Historical Branch, or at least sanctioned/official historical agency. This agency sends the protagonist back in time to personally arrange “final interviews” with famous people in history.
Generally sent within the last 24 hours before the famous historical figure dies, it is the protagonist’s job to perform an interview for historical documentation. It’s a sort of video-logging, or time-logging if you prefer. The interviewed historical figure will retain no memory of the interview (standard paradox protection) so there is no risk of damaging the timeline.
Think of the protagonist as Larry King, if you will; a person who has interviewed every important person in history. Hitler, Stalin, Michael Jackson, Freddy Mercury, Shakespeare – all the greats. Scientists, royals, warriors, poets – he has interviewed them all.
There is a limit on number of interviews he can be sent back to (perhaps one per day) to ensure he has enough years experience to be a professional in the time-interview field. The protagonist is the only person sent back.
Since the famous person being interviewed will not remember the event, there is no reason to be careful about revealing information of future events. In fact, reaction-shots of exactly this type of revelation is often wanted. The viewers can see how Hitler reacts to finding out that he will commit suicide, or how Elvis feels about his embarrassing toilet-related demise. Even though this is done purely for historical records, it has slowly become a media commercialization of death.
Once we have started, and this premise has been established, the protagonist gets a visit from a young person. He quickly realises this is who is going to replace him. It is the protagonist’s “final interview”.
Since the protagonist has interviewed everyone in history, he has himself become famous. He finds out that his death is imminent, but that it will be accidental (or otherwise avoidable).
Due to the fact that the protagonist has done this job for many years, he has slowly worked out a way to retain his memory after the interview. Armed with this knowledge, the protagonist engineers a way to get into the facility and send himself somewhere random in time, thus avoiding his own imminent death.
This article was written by Jorgen Lundman