by John W. Campbell, Jr. (as by Don Stuart)
First publication: Astounding, Nov 1934
In 1932, James Waters Bendell picks up a magnificently sculpted hitchhiker named Ares Sen Kenlin (the Sen means he’s a scientist, but Waters is just a name) who says that he’s trying to get back to his home time (3059) from seven million years in the future—a time when mankind has atrophied because of their reliance on machines.
They stand about, little misshapen men with huge heads. But their heads contain only brains. They had machines that could think—but somebody turned them off a long time ago, and no one knew how to start them again. That was the trouble with them. They had wonderful brains. Far better than yours or mine. But it must have been millions of years ago when they were turned off, too, and they just hadn’t thought since then. Kindly little people.
John W. Campbell, Jr., Master Traveller
Campbell’s three time travel stories were published under his pseudonym of Don Stuart before he took over the reins of Astounding, and even together they would not justify the prestigious Master Traveller Citation. But the number of classic time travel yarns he brought to light at Astounding and Analog make him more than worthy.