Monday, February 16, 2009

The Man Who Folded Himself – David Gerrold (1973)

Danny Eakins has been bequeathed a unique gift – a belt that allows him to travel through time. Danny then proceeds to do everything that a time-traveller would wish to do with the belt, and quite a few more that a time-traveller would not. To list what Danny does to give you an idea of what the book is like would be to spoil the book. However, it is sufficient to say that it seems like Danny manages to cover pretty much everything that one might wish to do with a time-travel machine, quite a few that one might not, and the speed in which Gerrold covers this makes for quite an interesting and fun read. I also enjoyed the way that Gerrold comes up with a plausible explanation that allows him to disregard every single time-travel paradox that has ever been written about, and then proceeds to do so. There are no Paradox Police here, which makes the read quite enjoyable.

The occasional supporting characters never rise above crude stereotypes, and Danny himself is quite a simply-drawn character. Certainly, Danny has a few personal angsts and problems, but for much of the book, Danny is simply a vehicle to show Gerrold’s ideas about time travel. This is not a great problem; “The Man Who Folded Himself” for the most part seemed to be more about what any person might do with a time-travel device, rather than what Danny Eakins in particular would do.

Having said this, there is one particular aspect of the book which I did not enjoy, both for how Gerrold portrayed this, and for how it ruined the “this is pretty much what I would do in this situation” idea floating in my head beforehand.

“The Man Who Folded Himself” has lots of interesting ideas about time-travel, which does make the book quite a bit above average. Recommended. 4/5.

1 comment:

Orin said...

I haven't read "The Man Who Folded Himself" yet, but it came up at a the Seattle Scifi film festival recently in relation to this short film, "Hirsute", which takes time travel to some disturbing, narcissistic conclusions:

Definitely leaves you wondering how you'd react in the same situation!