Thursday, June 12, 2008

REVIEW: The Man Who Folded Himself

Title: The Man Who Folded Himself
Author: David Gerrold
Protagonist: Daniel Eakins
Science Fiction/Time Travel
Setting: Los Angeles in various time periods
Rating: D

First Line: In the box was a belt.

I am a fan of well-written time travel, and when I discovered that I'd missed this 1972 classic, I couldn't wait to read the revised edition that was printed in 2003. The first thing that put me off was the introduction that told me just how great it is. I'm in the camp that believes if a book is great, let there be no fanfare--let the book speak for itself.

Daniel Eakins inherits a belt from his beloved Uncle Jim and is a tad disappointed until he finds out that it's a "time belt" that will allow him to travel through time. Daniel spends the next few decades gathering money and alternative time lines for himself. If he does something he doesn't like, he just goes back and tells himself not to do it, but all the travels and revisions create hundreds of Daniels. I was told that Daniel kept up with the news and that missing children were found, terrorists were blown up by their own bombs and serial killers didn't have a chance to rack up body counts, but these were merely comments in passing. The main action revolved around Daniel and all his self-created selves. He was a loner and rather than getting out and meeting new people, he tapped the keys on the time belt and played exclusively with himself. (The double entendre is intentional.) By the time this (thankfully) short novel wound to a close, the real identity of one of the characters was anything but earth-shattering, and I just wanted to wring Daniel's neck. This is one "classic" I wish I hadn't found.

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