The Man Who Folded Himself

by David Gerrold | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 1932100040 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 10/1/2003
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10 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Pre-numbered label used for registration.

I'd had this on my list of books-to-watch-for for some time, and today I stumbled over it at Mori's bookstore in Amherst. It's a time travel story in which the traveller winds up meeting himself - over and over and over - with, from what I hear, some rather interesting results. To be read.

[Note: this is a 1991 Bantam edition paperback, different cover than that pictured; I linked to the latest edition instead so that interested parties can click over to Amazon and read reviews and excerpts. And 'cause it's nice to see a pretty little cover-pic, even if it's not the right one!]

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, October 22, 2003
This was a really fascinating read! It pretty much takes on the whole set of time-travel conventions and paradoxes and makes a good try at dealing with them all (in one way or another).

[Mild spoilers follow - if you don't want to know ANYTHING about the story ahead of time, stop reading now!]

The main character - indeed, practically the only character - is left a time-travel belt by an elderly uncle, and as soon as he begins to play with it [luckily it comes complete with a display screen and online manual - which, miraculously, our hero does in fact consult {grin}] his life, indeed his very definition of self, gets reinvented. At first he's thrilled: "I felt like a kid with a ten-dollar bill in a candy store - no, like an adolescent with a hundred-dollar bill in a brothel." But soon things start to get a little more complicated...

The nature of the protagonist is key, here; he's the quintessential loner, and the biggest thrill of time travel for him is that he can befriend himself - be his own mentor, twin brother, best friend, and more. That's because of the way the time belt works: it's sort of the "palimpsest" theory of time alteration: "Think of an artist drawing a picture. But he's using indelible ink and he doesn't have an eraser. If he wants to make a change, he has to paint over a line with white. The line hasn't ceased to exist; it's just been painted over and a new line drawn on top.... [The artist is] aware of the process he used to obtain the final result and it affects his consciousness." But this is the subjective view, according to the narrator, who is only one of many slightly-different-time-stream versions of himself... "You can't eliminate yourself. I could go back in time nineteen years and strangle myself in my crib, but I wouldn't cease to exist. (I'd have a dead baby on my hands, though...)"

There are whimsical bits - as when our hero figures out how to construct the longest-running poker game ever - and sexy bits (taking the concept of self-love to a whole new level), disturbing concepts and sensible ones (after trying some dramatic "history fixes" like preventing assassinations or disabling the Christian church, our hero finds that the resulting changes to the culture make it unrecognizeable - and alien - to him). Introspection to the nth, with a time-travel kicker; I liked it...

Journal Entry 3 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Releasing as a bookray:

Participants, in mailing order:

LCBane (WV)
Zarylia (Poland)
BooksnBeer (VA)
arugh48187 (MN)
ResQgeek (VA)
Rendiru (CA)
charbono (Australia)
caligula03 (CA)
Kiri (CA)
kymberlie (TX)

When you receive the book, please journal it, check this entry for the next person in line and PM that person in line for their address. [NOTE: At least one of the participants has moved recently, so confirm their address and readiness to receive a book BEFORE mailing it, even if you have an address for that person.] Read the book reasonably promptly, then journal again when you've read it, and mail it to the next person in line. There's a link to this bookray on my profile to help keep track. Hope you enjoy it!

Journal Entry 4 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, October 24, 2003
Controlled release:

I'm sending this to BCer LCBane in West Virginia, to kick off the bookray. Hope you enjoy it!

Journal Entry 5 by LCBane from Keyser, West Virginia USA on Wednesday, November 05, 2003
The book arrived in the mail, but I haven't been able to read it yet. I will update this entry after I read it and ship it out to the next person.

Journal Entry 6 by LCBane from Keyser, West Virginia USA on Tuesday, November 25, 2003
This arrived at a very busy time, so I had problems getting it started. I kept hitting work deadlines.

I had read Gerrold in the 1980s and enjoyed his work, so I was very excited to get a chance to read this book.

I liked the concept. I thought the time travel belt was well-set up and very interesting. I liked the "popping" as the air was displaced. I thought the infrastructure of the story was pretty well done.

I enjoyed the book in the beginning, but around the middle, I decided I really didn't care much for Dan/Don. It wasn't that I objected to the eroticism, but rather I objected to his self-absorption and narcissism. I wanted him to explore the parallel universes and times available to him. Instead he frittered his time away playing poker with himself and "dating" himself. Alfred Hitchcock once said that the key to everything was your hero. If you couldn't get your audience care about what happened to him, then nothing else that you did would make the movie work. I think it applies to books as well as films. Once I realized that I didn't really like Dan/Don and I figured out who Uncle Jim had been, I realized that the book wasn't going to work for me. I forced myself to finish it.

Last Thursday, I put it in the mail to Zarylia in Poland. I hope she gets it some time this week.

Journal Entry 7 by Zarylia from Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Warsaw/Poland - I just got the book in the mail today and plan to start on it soon. From what I hear it's pretty good so I'm looking forward to reading it. More details after I've finished it.

Journal Entry 8 by Zarylia from Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Warsaw/Poland - Despite to chaos my life has become I've finished it, sorry it took so long, and will try to send it off ASAP. So, about the book, it's probably one of the most interesting books I have ever read. It made me think about things I'd never stopped to consider, and the time-traveling, wow, I had a hard enough time getting it straight in my head much less trying to write something like that! I was really impressed with this book, especially because I'm not really a time-travel book kind of person. Like LCBane said though, I wasn't really attached to Dan/Don; it's not that I didn't like him, I just wasn't as involved in his story as in other books I've read. Overall I thought it was a really interesting book and would recommend it, especially if you enjoy time-travel as I think the book handles it very well.

I'll be sending it out soon,

*Happy Holidays*

Journal Entry 9 by Zarylia from Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on Sunday, January 04, 2004
Paynesville/MN/USA - Sorry about the wait, the book should be on it's way to BooksnBeer right now! Happy New Year everyone!

Journal Entry 10 by BooksnBeer from Annandale, Virginia USA on Monday, January 19, 2004
Just received this in the mail on Saturday 1/17/04. I have a few books in the queue before it, but it is a thin book and maybe I'll move it up in the queue. I am looking forward to a little Science Fiction, for a change.

Journal Entry 11 by BooksnBeer from Annandale, Virginia USA on Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Finished reading this last night. Interesting reading. It broke all the rules I learned (on TV and in books) about time travel. I always read that you could not meet or change anything about yourself when you time traveled. If you did, you would cause a paradox, which would cause a tare in the fabric of time, which would unravel and cause many other problems. This does not hold true in this book. I’m not sure I fully got the alternate time path idea in this book. If that is true, how is anything excised? You don’t erase anything? You just create a new path? I do also agree that I did not really like the main character too much – too narcissistic. But, I am glad I read it.

Journal Entry 12 by BooksnBeer from Annandale, Virginia USA on Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Book mailed to the next on the list today. Enjoy.

Journal Entry 13 by arugh48187 from Highland Park, Illinois USA on Monday, March 08, 2004
This little gem was tucked into my mailbox this morning. I have a few bookrays in front of it, but will get to it shortly.

Journal Entry 14 by arugh48187 from Highland Park, Illinois USA on Monday, April 26, 2004
ZZZZTT! This book was a bit of a brain fryer. I enjoyed it, but some of the concepts warped my brain into an alternate existance. If he could wipe himself out of existance, such that he couldn't get back to himself, how is it that when he wiped out Diane, his son was still there? I believe this book will require some noodling on my part. I thoroughly enjoyed it though. Then again I pretty much like all books about time travel.

Released on Monday, May 03, 2004 at Post Office at 153rd and Garrett in Apple Valley, Minnesota Controlled Releases.

Off to ResQGeek.

Journal Entry 16 by wingResQgeekwing from Alexandria, Virginia USA on Wednesday, May 05, 2004
The book arrived today, along with another bookring book. I also have a third bookring waiting to be read, but I'll try to get to this as quickly as I can.

Journal Entry 17 by wingResQgeekwing from Alexandria, Virginia USA on Tuesday, May 11, 2004
I originally read this book in high school, when a friend loaned me a copy. I remembered enjoying it tremendously, especially the explorations of the concept of branching time streams, which seemed to resolve the basic time travel paradox problems. I also remembered most of the details of the Dan/Don/Diana relationships.

Re-reading the book now, about twenty years later, I'm most struck by how self-centered the narrator is. This story brings new meaning to narcissism, and while I might have identified with the loner as a teen, now he simply strikes me as selfish. He only uses time travel to change the world in ways that make himself happy. If I could have his ability to travel through time, I would find myself looking for ways to make the world a better place for others (which would certainly be a difficult challenge!).

I guess what strikes me here isn't so much the story (which remains intriguing), as my different reaction to it. I find myself reflecting on the changes within myself that are causing me to react differently to this story now. Definitely some significant food for thought.

Journal Entry 18 by wingResQgeekwing from Alexandria, Virginia USA on Tuesday, May 11, 2004
I'm off to the post office to mail this to California. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 19 by Rendiru from Carmichael, California USA on Friday, May 14, 2004
This arrived in today's mail. I've already started it [hubby was using the computer or I would have journaled first :-)] and am enjoying it so far. I'll update the journal once I finish it.

Journal Entry 20 by Rendiru from Carmichael, California USA on Saturday, May 15, 2004
What a strange little book. It certainly offered a new meaning to the description "introverted personality". It offered a detailed exploration of some the pitfalls of time travel - I wish it had branched a little more into the beneficial possibilities.

It was difficult to feel a rapport with the main character when his entire existence was so literally self-centered. When there is no real growth of a character, I find it hard to sympathize with him. It was really sad to see a life spent in actively sought stagnation. Still, it was an interesting experience and I'm glad I had the chance to read it.

This will head off to Charbono on Monday or Tuesday.

Journal Entry 21 by wingcharbonowing from Creswick, Victoria Australia on Thursday, May 27, 2004
Received today in the mail. To be read!

Journal Entry 22 by wingcharbonowing from Creswick, Victoria Australia on Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Finished reading it this morning. A quick read, not overwritten. This book is a really good piece of science fiction - I think if time travel is possible then it would work the way it does in this book. The author's idea of time and mine are similar. I like the idea of different streams of time, all existing simultaneously. It makes sense to me that even when Dan 'undoes' himself (travels to a time in which he was never born) his consciousness remains 'alive', because it is separate from the rest of the world. Overall, a very trippy book - way out there, but with a very believable logic behind it. Will post this out to caligula03 in the next couple of days.

Journal Entry 23 by caligula03 from Hayward, California USA on Saturday, June 26, 2004
Book arrived yesterday. Am looking forward to reading it.

Journal Entry 24 by caligula03 from Hayward, California USA on Thursday, September 09, 2004
I think narcissism and time travel go hand in hand. Dan/Don/Danny/Diane et al is not much different than Dave Lister. I enjoyed the book quite a bit, though I have to wonder if the author retconned some of Dan's early stock picks. The original book was published in 1973, so unless the author has a time belt of his own or is psychic, he wouldn't have known about Apple and Sony. I'd love to get a first edition and compare those passages... The time travel plot and "twists" are fairly standard, the ending didn't suprise me but I did enjoy this telling of the story. The journal entries from the various incarnations allowed for a character growth that doesn't usually happen in books. I also liked the rather frank exploration of the main character's sexuality.

Journal Entry 25 by caligula03 at on Thursday, September 09, 2004

Released 16 yrs ago (9/11/2004 UTC) at



Mailing on Saturday.

Journal Entry 26 by Kiri from Santa Rosa, California USA on Friday, October 15, 2004
Caught and Read! ready for the next person! More complete entry/review to follow..

Journal Entry 27 by Kiri from Santa Rosa, California USA on Wednesday, November 17, 2004
This has an interesting pretext, and an even more interesting ending. I don't wish to spoil the story so shall quietly be obtuse. It is a quick read. Passing this along to the next reader!

Journal Entry 28 by Kiri at postal release in Spring, Texas -- Controlled Releases on Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Released on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 at about 12:00:00 PM BX time (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada) at postal release in Spring, Texas Controlled Releases.


Sent onto kymberlie

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