Author : J.D. Rice

Dear Mr. Hawking,

I regret to inform you that I will not be attending your reception, scheduled for 12:00 UT, 28 June 2009.

Or perhaps I should say that I apologize for not having attended your reception, given that this letter will not be delivered until after the event has concluded. You of all people must understand the complexities of communicating in a manner such as this, but alas, we are limited by the temporality of our existences.

It would, perhaps, be prudent to inform you that a number of my colleagues discouraged me from sending this letter. In fact, they expressly forbade me from attempting any communication with you at all.

Their prejudice is not, as you might imagine, any concern over temporal paradoxes or alternate timelines or any such nonsense. Nor have they discouraged me from contacting you based on the concrete evidence that no one did, in fact, attend your reception. No, such historical truths can often be misrepresented, and I certainly trust that, if asked, you could have taken such a secret to your grave. A man of your intelligence could at least be trusted for that small a task.

No, the true reason my colleagues have urged not to contact you is simple: They do not like you.

And I’m afraid to say, Mr. Hawking, that I cannot much blame them.

Why, the very nature of your invitation is reason enough to scorn you. You may suppose that young and upstart time travelers may have a keen interest in making your acquaintance, regardless of the consequences. But you would be incorrect. Most young men in our business find your invitation so insulting, not only to our profession, but to the march of scientific advancement itself, that they would rather you die in ignorance than know the truth. What kind of arrogant man, they say, would claim to know more than men a thousand years more advanced than he?

But alas, Mr. Hawking, despite my hearty agreement with my colleagues on the latter point, I simply could not let the former pass. A man of your intelligence does deserve to know the truth before he dies, and thus I have crafted this letter to be delivered on your deathbed, mere seconds before you eyes close for the last time. Yes, you are going to die, and if my timing is correct (as it often must be) this will be the last thing you read.

And so I say again, Mr. Hawking, I am very sorry to have missed your party. Perhaps in the next life (if there is such a thing) you will look upon the natural world with a bit more humility.

A Concerned Time Traveler

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