Friday, February 16, 2018

The Man Who Folded Himself

David Gerrold
Completed 2/16/2018, Reviewed 2/16/2018
5 stars

Wow!  I really loved this book.  It is the greatest time travel story I’ve ever read.  Danny Eakins inherits a time travel belt from his Uncle Jim.  Once he discovers what it is, he experiments, first twenty minutes into the future, then a day, then all over the past and future.  This is a short book, only about 120 pages, but it is filled with amazing contemplation and philosophizing on the ramifications of time travel.  Most specifically, it explores the paradoxes that come with time travel, taking it to the point of myriads of instances of Danny having parties with his selves.  It’s all very mind-blowing, and done really well.

Danny is a great character.  In fact, he is pretty much the only character.  As he becomes an experienced time traveler, he becomes a loner, relying on his alternative selves.  By alternative selves, I mean that in this trope of time travel, rather than there being just one timeline in which Danny travels, every time he travels through time, he bifurcates the universe, creating alternate versions of himself.  Through this method he travels the globe, experiencing history first hand.

This being a short book, we don’t travel through history with Danny.  Instead we experience him getting started with time travel and then following him through different existential crises that arise from having this kind of power.  So instead of a travelogue, it’s a reflection on what could happen to oneself having the ability to travel through time, from pleasure to madness.

I discovered this book while doing my research for the LGBTQ Spec Fic Resource List I curated at WWEnd.  It explores homosexuality in a narcissistic fashion, with Danny having relationships with himself.  While it might seem odd and strange, the book progresses in such a way that this has to be explored.  It’s a variation on the idea of being able to love oneself.  So as not to be exclusive, Danny also meets a female version of himself and has a relationship with her as well.  It’s all strange but makes perfect sense in the bifurcated universes of this time travel trope.

This being such a short book, I read it in basically a day.  I started it last night and finished it during down time at work.  (I actually had a lot of downtime today).   I’m so glad I had the time, because this was literally a tough book to put down.  I just wanted to consume it.  I give it five stars out of five because Danny dragged me into his existential crises.  I could feel his loneliness and fear, and was almost moved to tears at the end.  If I wasn’t at work, I probably would have leaked a tear or two.   I’ve read only one other book by Gerrold, Jumping off the Planet, and loved it as well.  I guess I need to read more of him.

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