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The Man Who Folded Himself Paperback – 10 Jun 2003

3.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 146 pages
  • Publisher: BenBella Books; 1st BenBella Books Ed edition (10 Jun. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932100040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932100044
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 1.2 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 333,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Uncanny allegorical force . . . altogether most impressive."

About the Author

David Gerrold is the author of the Hugo and Nebula award-nominated "The Man Who Folded Himself" and "When HARLIE Was One", books that quickly established him in the hard science fiction genre during the 1970s. He also wrote "The Trouble with Tribbles" episode of Star Trek, voted the most popular Star Trek episode of all time, and is the author of the popular Star Wolf, Dingillian, and Chtorr series. He lives in Northridge, California.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This short novel (almost a novella really) explores the paradoxes which would be caused by an individual being able to travel through time. Daniel is a young man who receives an inheritance from his uncle Jim which is a timebelt which enables him to travel forward or backward any span of time, or to skim backwards or forwards observing developments as an outsider. He begins with the bog standard wheeze of going forward to find out the results of future horse races and then placing bets on the winners in the present, and this part of the novel is amusing. But then he goes on to more expansive and dramatic changes, interacting with multiple versions of himself, and the novel ceases to have much of a plot, and becomes a concept novel about the paradoxes he faces and the alternate timelines he invariably creates every time he jumps anywhere. While I have always been fascinated by the concept of time travel, the presentation here didn't work for me and became rather repetitive, and I wasn't satisfied with some of the reasoning, e.g. that the first action of the owner of the timebelt should to erase the timeline in which it was created so no one else could have one - but wouldn't that mean the owner didn't either? So ultimately I don't think was as effective as it could be.

This novel was originally published in 1973 and Daniel came originally from 1975. The edition I read was updated by the author in 2003 and set in 2005, but the only differences to the text that I noticed were references to 9/11 and compact disks, which initially baffled me given the novel's age.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the greatest time-travel story ever written. It starts strong, gets better, gets even better (sexier), then even better again.

The only time travel book to come close to it is Caris O'Malley's wonderful The Egg Said Nothing. If you like this one, be sure to check that one out too.
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Format: Paperback
Dan inherits a time machine, stylishly fashioned into a belt, from his uncle. He figures out how to use it by actually reading the manual. (This alone challenges our suspension of disbelief!) Then his adventures begin. As the book unfolds, Dan does all of the usual time traveling things. He uses knowledge of the future to place winning bets at the track. He expands this strategy into buying stock in companies that will hit it big, freeing him from financial worries. Dan also visits significant events in history, but says little about them. We are teased with snippets like his passing observation that Cleopatra wasn't very pretty.

And Dan runs into himself. He establishes a working partnership between Dan--his younger self--and Don--his older self--that each falls into whenever two versions of him meet. They begin by passing information to "edit out" actions with negative consequences, such as winning too much money and attracting attention. Dan trusts Don and his information from the future. Their relationship grows into a close friendship as they spend time together. Eventually it becomes a physical relationship. The implications of this step for Dan and his various versions of himself play out. This is very well thought out and skillfully presented. There is a moral message here about self-indulgence that does not descend into gender or sexual politics. It is a line nicely walked for such a nonlinear story.

My favorite parts of the book take place during a party that has many Dans and Dons in attendance, all with different levels of knowledge from their own and alternative timelines. The author keeps all of this straight through skillful writing and timely references to the journal that the protagonist(s) keep and quote from.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting book. They say don't judge a book by it's cover - if you were you might expect to read of adventures in ancient Egypt and the far future. There is none of that. Dan, our hero, seems to have had some interesting trips through time but none of that is related in any detail, the book is concerned with the introspective musings on the nature of time, alternate times streams and being rather obsessed with himself. As such it is quite thought provoking and I often felt myself drifting off in philosophical thought, and had to pull myself back to the story.

I found the first quarter of the book to be very interesting and a real page turner. The second quarter I found to be rather dull, but it picked up for the second half. I had a vague idea where it was going but it was interesting to see how it all turned out. I would have liked to see a bit more adventure.

I can't help thinking that Dan rather wasted the potential of the time belt. Rather like a teenager who wins the lottery and spends the lot on "adult magazines".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Gerrold is a cult science-fiction author. For people who care about Star Trek he has written episodes and is the author of the book "The Trouble with Tribbles". For fans of military SF he wrote the four books in "The War Against the Chtorr" series - we have been waiting twenty years for the final volume(s).

And then there is his time-travel novel "The Man Who Folded Himself". Gerrold is a career-acolyte of Robert Heinlein: "The War Against the Chtorr" series is explicit homage to "Starship Troopers" while "The Man Who Folded Himself" parallels exactly Heinlein's classic "All You Zombies".

So what to make of it?

Gerrold starts promisingly in the style of "The Catcher in the Rye". Danny is the truculent, bored adolescent orphan being paid $1,000 a month by his 'Uncle Jim' to attend University. As he observes: "An apartment, a car and a thousand a week for keeping my nose clean."

Soon however Uncle Jim dies and Danny is left with a timebelt, a personal time machine. Now Gerrold leaves his promising story development to spend 7 technophilic pages describing this device to no advantage to the underlying narrative whatsoever. What did his editor think he was doing?

We soon revert to old-fashioned story-telling as Danny and his one-day-advanced doppelgänger go to the races and clean-up. Cue another techno-excursion into multiverse-ontology as Gerrold presents his solution to the obvious paradoxes: plot development stalls and dies at this new irruption of fan-boy geekdom. Eventually the story resumes although with less élan as Danny meets a female version of himself (Diana) from a remote alternate timeline and they produce a male boy. Well, you can see where it's all going to end up.
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