Story Idea: Final Interview

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.

  • This is a nice idea. The interview of the interviewer/protagonist would make for some interesting dialogue.
    I think this would make a good short story. His escape isn’t really necessary, he might be experienced enough to know that you can’t escape death and decide to face it with dignity and composure. OR you could just have him disappear into time and leave it there. His colleagues wouldn’t know that he was about to die (yet), so it would be an easy escape.
    Of course, he could escape to another time and just get hit by a bus there.

    Thanks for sharing, Jorgen!

  • kokoko

    Interesting idea, but I don’t like adding the last two paragraphs of the interviewers demise as a kind of way of adding tension. More interesting would be if there actually was some subtle Grandfather Paradox or other accidental temporal engineering. Gradually the future may be come aware of it and have to figure out how to reverse the paradox.
    Or maybe have the interviews interrupted unexpectedly by a temporal time war like the one in the Star Trek television series (e.g. ST:Enterprise). Or perhaps have them interrupted from agents much farther in the future?

  • kokoko

    It’d be an amusing conflict between journalistic integrity and altering the future.

  • Mary

    Is this a story you’ve written? Sounds amazing, definitely could be a great time travel novel…

  • Simon

    I really liked this idea. Could not get it out of my head so i expanded/changed it a bit and wrote a short story around the idea.

    If you want to check it out, you can find it here:

    Anyways, hope you like my effort. 🙂

  • Ramya Mogallapu

    I loved this idea so much, me and my friend created a short film based of this idea and Simon’s short story.

    Here is the link hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think.

    • Fantastic! This was always one of my favourites too. It’s great to see it turned into a film. Very much enjoyed that. A blast from the past 🙂