"By His Bootstraps" is a short story by Creator/RobertAHeinlein first published in 1941. It deals with Bob, a student and all-round terrible person, who suddenly finds himself faced with the idea of a time portal and several strange men in his bedroom. At the other end, 30000 years into the future, lies an {{Arcadia}} ripe for the taking, and a man named Diktor is willing to give him half of the future land.

The story became the TropeCodifier for the StableTimeLoop idea, and was the former TropeNamer for the page.

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!!This short story provides examples of:

* ConquerorFromTheFuture: Inverted. The main character is brought from the present to the far future and becomes [[spoiler:the world's "Diktor" (dictator)]]. Apparently the people from the future have become too soft, following a massive alien invasion.
* HaveWeMetYet: Bob and [[spoiler: Arma]].
* ImportedAlienPhlebotinum: The Time Gate.
* KarmaHoudini: Bob is generally a mean guy; he starts a nasty (few) fight(s) during the story, displays an abusive relation with women, and even goes so far as to [[spoiler:enslave the entire human population of the future in preparation for a clash with "Diktor", the man who had ruled the Earth prior to Bob's jumping 10 years in the past of that time]]. [[DontExplainTheJoke The central irony of this being that]] [[spoiler:in doing so, Bob himself becomes "Diktor" and sets out to prepare his past self to do the same.]] Somewhat subverted considering that the most important people he slights during the story are actually just [[spoiler:versions of himself from varying timeframes]].
* MyFutureSelfAndMe: A man's future selves go back and meet his past self for various reasons.
* OneDegreeOfSeparation: The story's main draw.
* StableTimeLoop: Also known as the "Bootstrap Paradox" because of this story.
* TemporalParadox: Among other hijinks, the main character gets a book from the future, which he copies into another one (the same one, when it's new?) when it becomes too old and falling apart. A good way to avoid an object-based ontological paradox.
* TheseAreThingsManWasNotMeantToKnow: Bob Wilson sees one of the High Ones through a time viewer and almost loses his mind. It was the emotion of seeing something so powerful and advanced that caused his discomfort -- an overwhelming mixture of sadness, tragedy, grief and weariness.
* TimeyWimeyBall: The protagonist exploits a time machine to move himself forward in time. Simple enough. The MindScrew comes in when [[spoiler: he does this by his future self sending back his intermediate self to persuade his past self to enter the machine's portal. When the past self becomes the intermediate self, he attempts to double cross the future self, but that double cross naturally results in him becoming the future self.]] Follow all that?
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