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The Man Who Folded Himself (1973)

af David Gerrold

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1,0524119,597 (3.55)61
This classic work of science fiction is widely considered to be the ultimate time-travel novel. When Daniel Eakins inherits a time machine, he soon realizes that he has enormous power to shape the course of history. He can foil terrorists, prevent assassinations, or just make some fast money at the racetrack. And if he doesn't like the results of the change, he can simply go back in time and talk himself out of making it! But Dan soon finds that there are limits to his powers and forces beyond his control.… (mere)
Nyligt tilføjet afjcm790, jhank1, privat bibliotek, Nonconformisto, rcarp55, dwagon17, lukerague, mmundorf, Kaobalist, Othemts
  1. 00
    Something from the Nightside af Simon R. Green (Michaenite)
  2. 00
    The Man Who Turned Into Himself af David Ambrose (beyondthefourthwall)
    beyondthefourthwall: Gerrold's book is the classic; Ambrose's does different things with some of the same ideas. Both are wildly imaginative and pack a ton of ideas into concise sci-fi novels.
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Time-travel is a popular storytelling device; fascinating, flexible and a natural crowd-pleaser. It's quite a feat, then, that in The Man Who Folded Himself author David Gerrold makes it so tedious and joyless. The story itself is a strange one, veering in its prose between trite juvenilia and dry discussion of paradox, but it's also not much of a story at all. The protagonist Daniel inherits a 'time belt' from his uncle, but where this device came from or why is never addressed (the twist towards the end is also predictable). Daniel immediately jumps into the back-and-forth of time-travel shenanigans with nary a second thought, and the reader doesn't have time to get on board. When the story ends, having paradoxically felt both hasty and interminable, we have motion-sickness despite not having once been moved.

The haste in the set-up of the premise might be forgivable if something interesting was then done, but the protagonist's time-travel amounts to a few soulless summaries of visiting various historical events (witnessing the Crucifixion, he notes only that Jesus "looked so sad" (pg. 52) – and that is one of the more flavourful examples). Mirroring his protagonist's unwillingness to let alone, the author released an updated version of the book in 2003 (the original was published in 1973). This version mentions things like 9/11 and Apple Computers, but they are only mere mentions – a bit of slapdash colour. When not in these time-travel adventures (which are apparently plentiful, though Gerrold does not grant the reader any taste of them), the protagonist is hyper-analysing the various 'copies' of himself that have been created each time he loops back in time, or travels forward. By the end, there are hundreds of versions of Daniel running around. This, unfortunately, is what Gerrold does submit the reader to.

Those who credit Gerrold's book describe this as a thoughtful and meticulous exploration of the effects of time-travel on our protagonist's sense of identity. My reaction, which appears to be shared by many reviewers, was rather different. It's confusing from the start, with our perhaps-autistic protagonist relentlessly going back to remedy insignificant events of the previous day – "Danny had to go back in time and become Don to his Dan" (pg. 44) is one example of this nonsense. Even the young boy in Bernard's Watch found more interesting things to do with time-travel, such as saving a goal in a football match, and I had hoped Gerrold would soon move on to more interesting time-travel terrain. Unfortunately, he commits to it fully for the rest of the book, stifling at birth anything that would make The Man Who Folded Himself compelling.

Our protagonist could better be described as 'The Man Who Loved Himself', for he immediately has sex with the first copy of himself that he meets in a time loop, and later has gay orgies with multiples of them. This is not done out of boredom or curiosity, but because he is the only person he feels can understand him. Daniel alters time so much he encounters a female version of himself, who he also has sex with. When he gets this copy pregnant, he doesn't feel joy at the child (or even any sort of conflict over its conception), but is instead "bothered that someone else is inside of her, someone other than me" (pg. 90).

The protagonist, dull from the start, reveals more and more his autism and narcissism, retreating deeper and deeper into his own world of copies of himself. The world outside his own mind might as well not exist – but Gerrold does not even appear to register the pathetic tragedy of this. Instead, he presents it as a sort of path to self-actualization, only the result is a rather depraved facsimile of character growth rather than anything genuinely rewarding. Lamenting the end of his relationship with his female copy, Daniel says it was because he could never experience the feelings from her side (pg. 93) because he has not been her in the past, in the way that he has with his male copies. This will be perplexing to any reader of even a basic level of emotional maturity, who don't need a 'time belt' and multiple physical copies of themselves to practice simple empathy in a relationship.

In The Man Who Folded Himself, there's no sense of joy or wonder at life, and the book as a whole feels like a bank accountant minuting his ayahuasca experience. To gift a 'time belt' to the protagonist of this novel feels like a sick joke on the reader, who craves adventure and experience but instead finds themselves locked in a room with a man who has been given the whole world to see – past, present and future – but instead chooses only to gaze in the mirror. ( )
1 stem MikeFutcher | Feb 4, 2024 |
This is a novel of classic science fiction, and I gather it is considered very influential in the time travel genre of science fiction. It is not one in which a character travels to the past or the future, and a whole and cohesive world is created in that past or future for the character to act in. Instead, there's constant travel to and from various times, as the novel explores some of the paradoxes and anomalies created by the concept of time travel.

As he comes of age Daniel inherits from his uncle, a "time belt", which allows him to time travel. Rather than coming into a fortune, Daniel has discovered that he is penniless, so his first act of time travel is to go one day in the future to the race track to get results so that he can strike it rich when he returns to the past. When he arrives in the future, he meets himself, one day older than when he left. And so Daniel learns the first of many consequences of time travel. Each time he travels, he creates a new "time stream," and in each time stream a version of Daniel exists and continues to exist. As he time travels, Daniel is constantly coming across himself, sometimes multiples of himself. And sometimes they don't get along, or are jealous of each other.

The thing I didn't like about this book is that there is a lot of emphasis on sex in the book. I'm not a prude, but I feel like when I chose to read a time travel book, I didn't sign up for a lot of sex scenes. The book was very controversial at the time it was published because Daniel is homosexual (as is the author), and things weren't so open at the time. To complicate matters, it turns out that Daniel is somewhat narcissistic, and "loves" himself and wants to have sex with himself, which he does (including with a female version of himself in one of the time streams).

Overall, I would not recommend this book unless you are a serious science fiction reader, and perhaps could recognize how this book may have influenced later books. I'm just a casual science fiction reader, usually just in it for the story, so it didn't work for me.

2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Sep 28, 2023 |
While a pretty old novel now, I just caught up with “The Man Who Folded Himself” by David Gerrold and quite enjoyed it.

It follows the main character, Dan Eakins, beginning shortly before his Uncle Jim dies and leaves him a time travel device in the form of a belt.

Following that he begins experimenting with time travel, starting simple at first and getting more complicated as he gains confidence. Most of the time he’s with a version of himself a day older who takes him around, goes to the race track to bet on horses and things, and is referred to as Don.

The Dans and Dons of various times have a regular poker game in his apartment at a set time when they can travel to. And a long running party at another house.

Dan figures out time travel paradox, and it’s described as being like a painting. Changing the past is like painting over a part of it. So, wearing one jacket, but going back in to wear a different one, is just like painting over the first jacket with the second. Only the painter knows what was originally there, but the overall end result is a painting with the second jacket.

Eventually Dan and Don, and various combinations begin having sex with one another. And Dan travels back in time, earlier than his birth, to find a female version of himself, Diane, have a relationship.

I found myself writing key dates and events on Post-It notes to stick in the pages to find them again and keep track of some of the times traveled.i

My edition is one Gerrold updated in 1991, with the copyright page saying, “this edition incorporates minor changes by the author,” so there are references Apple Computer and “Star Wars” in it, in terms of possible companies to invest in. Neither of those could’ve been in the original 1973 edition, of course. I’m not sure I noticed any other similar changes.

It was a quick book to read, and I finished it over the course of three short afternoon reading sessions, but I quite enjoyed it. ( )
  KevinRubin | Apr 8, 2023 |
Did not like it entirely, partly because of sexual content, but the ideas blew me away. Time traveler kept an ongoing meeting going with various aspects of himself. Sort of narcissistic, like some say, but interesting. Ultimate time travel possibilities. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
Virkilega skemmtilegar tímaferðapælingar í sögunni. Daniel Eakins fær gefins tímaferðartæki sem hann byrjar að skemmta sér með. Fyrst til að græða peninga. Síðan fara málin að flækjast, t.d. þegar hann byrjar að koma í veg fyrir mistök sem hann gerir. Hvað verður þá um framtíðar-Daníel og hvað verður um alla Danielana sem hann hittir stöðugt? Þessum spurningum og fjölda annarra færðu svarað í þessari sögu enda er hún talin ein besta tímaflakkssaga sem skrifuð hefur verið. ( )
  SkuliSael | Apr 28, 2022 |
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Gerrold, Davidprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Adelson, DickOmslagsdesignermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Gutierrez, AlanOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Hammer, MaryOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Mamczak, SaschaForordmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Sawyer, Robert J.Introduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Thole, C. A. M.Omslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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This classic work of science fiction is widely considered to be the ultimate time-travel novel. When Daniel Eakins inherits a time machine, he soon realizes that he has enormous power to shape the course of history. He can foil terrorists, prevent assassinations, or just make some fast money at the racetrack. And if he doesn't like the results of the change, he can simply go back in time and talk himself out of making it! But Dan soon finds that there are limits to his powers and forces beyond his control.

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