changewar n.

a conflict in which participants engage in time travel in order to alter history to effect a desired timeline

Often associated with Fritz Leiber, who apparently coined the term in a connected series of stories later collected as The Change War (1978) and Changewar (1983).

SF Encyclopedia


Time Travel

  • 1958 F. Leiber The Big Time in Galaxy Mar. 8/1 page image Fritz Leiber bibliography

    This war is the Change War, a war of time travelers…. Our Soldiers fight by going back to change the past, or even ahead to change the future, in ways to help our side win the final victory a billion or more years from now.

  • 1958 F. Leiber Try & Change the Past in Astounding Science Fiction Mar. 94/1 page image Fritz Leiber bibliography

    In the Change War we’re trying to alter the past—and it’s tricky, brutal work, believe me—at points all over the cosmos, anywhere and anywhen, so that history will be warped to make our side defeat the Spiders.

  • 1985 D. D’Ammassa Andre Norton in Lan’s Lantern (#16) Mar. 29/1 page image Don D'Ammassa

    ‘Long Live Lord Kor’ is a changewar story, with the protagonist battling efforts to change the past of his world.

  • 2001 D. D’Ammassa in Science Fiction Chronicle Oct. 45/2 Don D'Ammassa

    Anderson also wrote one of the better ‘changewar’ series, The Time Patrol.

  • 2009 W. Barton Sea of Dreams in Asimov’s Science Fiction Oct.–Nov. 177 page image William Barton bibliography

    ‘Wark Fan’shih has tried to track down and destroy all the hyperdoors throughout human history, on all the probabilistic timelines except the one he controls. His goal is to seal off metahistory so nothing can influence his own fate. My avatars are all that stand in his way.’ Imagine that. Changewar? Not quite, but pretty close.

  • 2018 J. Gunn Time & Time Again in Analog Science Fiction & Fact Mar.–Apr. 5/2 James E. Gunn bibliography

    A. E. van Vogt’s 1942 Astounding novella ‘Recruiting Station’…was combined with two other stories in the 1950 Masters of Time, perhaps the first of the ChangeWar concept that imagines groups competing for control of the future by changing the past.


Research requirements

antedating 1958

Earliest cite

Fritz Leiber

Last modified 2024-01-25 15:22:41
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.