Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Man in the Empty Suit” as Want to Read:
Man in the Empty Suit
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Man in the Empty Suit

3.16 of 5 stars 3.16  ·  rating details  ·  1,825 ratings  ·  425 reviews
Say you're a time traveler and you've already toured the entirety of human history. After a while, the outside world might lose a little of its luster. That's why this time traveler celebrates his birthday partying with himself. Every year, he travels to an abandoned hotel in New York City in 2071, the hundredth anniversary of his birth, and drinks twelve-year-old Scotch ( ...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Soho Press
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Man in the Empty Suit, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Man in the Empty Suit

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Time Machine by H.G. WellsTimeline by Michael CrichtonSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Best Time Travel Fiction
281st out of 1,070 books — 3,437 voters
The Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniWater for Elephants by Sara GruenMan in the Empty Suit by Sean FerrellThe Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
AB Book Club
3rd out of 4 books — 1 voter

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
chapter 1 - ok i'm hooked. damn that was effective.
chapter 2 - already picturing David Lynch directing the movie version
chapter 3 - most genius chapter ever since the dawn of chapters.
chapter 7 - cracked book open a couple hours ago and might have to call out sick tomorrow so i can finish this.
chapter 9 - my brain has never hurt so good. total mind F*.
chapter 12 - i'd suck at time travel, i could not handle this. this is a lot to handle.
chapter 15 - whoa. wait ... what?? whoa. i can't ... i can
Andrew Smith
A real surprise this one, I loved it.

It's one of the most original time travel books I've read (and I've read a few). A thoughtful tale of a time traveller who returns to a hotel on his birthday where the only other attendees are himself, at different ages, some older and some younger than his current 39 years. What happens next is perplexing, confusing and utterly compelling.

I'm not sure I understood every plot twist or even followed the story that accurately, in fact I found myself regularly
Time travel stories live or die by their adherence to internal rules. This book never establishes how time travel functions, so anything can and does happen, and it is enormously unsatisfying. Also, moritorium on using the phrase "entered her" as a euphamism for sex. You can do it (tee hee!), at most, once per book.
The Man in the Empty Suit is book that is so extraordinary that I am having trouble finding the right words to describe it. I was blown away by this book. Cool and awesome just don't cover it, and amazing doesn't either. Unique is clearly part of it, but doesn't do it either, imaginative is part, but not all. You know, I could string adjectives here for days and not really put together how I feel about this book. Reading was a truly unique experience for me. It was a new type of book – a type of ...more
Sam Sattler
Time travel novels, despite the well-known paradoxes associated with the theory of time travel, generally make for fun reading. For example, how could a person go back in time and accidentally kill his own grandfather when that means that he would have never existed to be able to time travel in the first place? But that kind of mind-twister is all part of the fun.

Sean Ferrell's Man in the Empty Suit puts a complicated, mind-bending twist on that old paradox. But Ferrell's story, while it is cert
Nethra Ram
A very interesting premise ruined by sloppy narration that gets boring with every other page. I didn't particularly want to finish it. The book is based on the grandfather paradox but the plot doesn't make it intriguing in the least bit. Too many copies of the hero, who is a self-proclaimed selfish, careless whiner, occupy every page and if that doesn't get annoying in a while this fact certainly will lead you to it -one or other of these copies keep ordering another to do something, copy X rude ...more

My brain feels something like this after reading this novel: full of explosions. The Paradox Problem has always been an issue when a good author takes on time travel. Sean Ferrell not only takes on the Paradox Problem, but throws it in your face. The book has a little bit of a Doctor Who in Pompeii feel to it.

A time traveler, whose first name is never given (correct? Unless I missed it somewhere) decides, when he's 19, that every year on his birthday, he is going to travel to 100 years after the
This story is based on the interesting premise of a time traveler gathered at a convention of himself at all ages, and it presents the possibility of being interesting--but it's not. The protagonist has the emotional appeal of a robot and despite the fact that there are literally hundreds of versions of himself, we know nothing about him. We don't know his interests, his philosophy, his beliefs, or his likes or dislikes. We never find out why he decided to set up this party in the first place, a ...more
I really wanted to love this book, but I didn't. It had ingredients that I normally delight in: time travel, mind-bending paradox, creepy/weird semi-abandoned future city. What a cool premise: a man invents a time travel vehicle, and leaps forward a century to throw a party for himself. Every year, he goes to the party, so the place is packed with versions of him of all different ages. But what happens when he (view spoiler)? How can he stop the chain o ...more
Feb 28, 2013 Nick rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of the film Primer
Well this was a fun book.
That seems to come across disparagingly. Like watching a Michael Bay movie instead of going to see that smart, low budget indie. Maybe you wanna eat Cheezey Bacon-Ranch Zingers instead of the grilled salmon, I don't know...
I digress, but I assure you this book is much much better than eating deep fried bacon ranch cheese balls while watching Transformers.
The story is that of time traveling narrator who meets up with himself every year on his birthday. To celebrate his
Stephen Ormsby
This is one mind-bending, mind-blowing experience. I absolutely loved it. Being lost in a sea of me’s was fascinating, confusing, complex and funny. Every character is a older or younger version of the narrator as they attend a birthday party – for himself.

This is like trying to read Philip K Dick, where every turn of the page reveals another complexity in the miasma of I’s. this id the kind of book that I would love to read.

If you like your time travel paradoxes, multiple versions of the same c
Allen Adams

Ferrell has created a richly complicated world that explores the idea of time travel paradoxes in a fascinating way. His narrator is trapped between wanting to follow the script that has long been established and needing to make the changes required to save his own life. When these shifts occur – he calls it “untethering” – it creates uncertainty, which the narrator has never had to deal with since inventing the time machine. He’s never sure if what he’s d
Tasha Robinson
Great start, muddled resolution. The plot features a time-traveler who returns to the same hotel every year of subjective personal time, in 2071, which would be his 100th birthday: The result is a time-traveler's convention where he's the only guest, rubbing shoulders with dozens of copies of himself. The plot hook is that one year, he encounters a corpse: His own, a version of him from six months in the future. So it becomes a murder mystery, with the narrator as the detective, the victim, and ...more
Sean Randall
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was a fairly unusual instance of a great cover hiding a dissapointing book. It could just be the way my brain is wired, but I'm not crazy about time travel paradoxes. Sure, it makes for fun movies like Terminator, but also for frustatingly convoluted reads like this one. While fairly well written, the story was just too warped and tortuous to be enjoyable and none of the characters (most of whom more accurately versions of the same one) were particularly engaging. The overall story was blea ...more
Since the book's about time travel, you dutifully put on your thinking cap and hope for the best. Surprisingly, the best is exactly what you get. You are glued to the page. Feverish. The non-stop excitement doesn't let up until you're halfway through and by then you're fucked. Because thesecond half falls apart in lots of places (and by "falls apart" I mean "bores the shit out of you"), but at that point, there's no turning back. You're tooinvested in the outcome, so you slog through all that bl ...more
Ruth Turner


This made my head hurt and almost sent me off to The Home For The Perpetually Bewildered!

Bob Milne
Time travel. It`s an overused science fiction plot device, but one that still has some life to it, provided you can either offer the reader a new spin, or find a new way to incorporate it into a story that uses it, but doesn`t rely upon it. Ferrell does both, providing us with a weary time traveler who spends every birthday with his selves - those who`ve come, those who`ve gone, and those who might never be. This year, however, the party takes an unusual turn, leaving him to find out who will ki ...more
Jessica Woodbury
I spent a long time trying to think of the third piece of the formula that makes up this book. I had the first two parts: Paul Auster plus Raymond Chandler plus... who? Luckily someone else read the book and gave me the third part.

So this book is Paul Auster + Raymond Chandler + Philip K. Dick. It has Auster's sense of disorientation and detachment, Chandler's twists and turns that don't always make sense, and Dick's tendency to take sci-fi conventions and turn them on their head.

Telling you tha
The actual craft of the writing of this book was worthy of more stars, but the story drove me crazy with its inconsistent logic.
In this one, a frankly dull and annoying man seems to have been the first to invent time travel. Possibly as a result of his own nature, his travels to the past come across as dull and unbelievable, but the story centers on the future, where he has his annual birthday party. The same one every year, with all of his annual selves invited. For reasons never made clear, th
Okay, I've been thinking about this a lot. I originally gave this one two stars but that's really not fair.

Here's the deal, there were sections of this book that were very much two stars. Continuity issues (talk to me about the damn snow), some story lines that felt left hanging or man handled, and lack of any discussion of why the world had gone to shit. Although, the feral parrots were quite cool I thought.

But, there were some story lines that were absolutely lovely and so well written that
Clarissa Simmens
I'm a time travel freak so eagerly began reading the book. Hmmmm, if you are a stickler for a minimum amount of paradoxes, this is not the book for you. In fact, it's not really about time traveling, at least to my way of thinking. Thought-provoking? Definitely! What is the theme? There have been many terrific reviews so I do not want to repeat anything, but I would like to quote a line from Ferrell's book that is important, in its simplicity: "But right now you've got to move forward with your ...more
This book is why I read outside my literary fiction comfort zones. A time-traveling, dystopian murder mystery with a main cast of one, this book basically blew my mind. I am sitting here, wondering about it all, unable to read anything else.
At first, the premise sounded way too good to be true; no one has ever (to my knowledge) written a novel like this before. When things started getting hairy- and there is no other word I would pick to describe the mess the narrator found himself, in his own l
I don't know if the term 'high concept' is really used to describe books in the same way as it is films, but it would certainly fit.

The premise is that the book's unnamed principal character is a time traveller who, each year, meets up with his own past and future selves at a party or 'convention' in a disused former hotel in a late 21st Century New York that bears more than a passing resemblance to the decay-porn Detroit of Only Lovers Left Alive (or at least that's how it came across in my hea
Andrew Shaffer
With "Man in the Empty Suit," Ferrell makes a strong case to be the Kurt Vonnegut of his generation. "Man in the Empty Suit" is alternately funny, sad, and thought-provoking. A serious mindfuck. I wish I could travel back in time and write this book myself.
Erik Buchanan
How do you solve your own murder? Especially when the only witnesses - and the only suspects - are all you? Sean Ferrell's "Man in the Empty Suit" starts with a murder a a time-traveller's annual reunion with himself - all his selves. And as he stares at his own slightly older corpse, he realizes that if he doesn't solve this, one day soon, he's going to be responsible for his own death.

This book is a great closed-door mystery, and a great examination of why a man makes the choices he makes. Is
Andrea Mullarkey
This book is why I read outside my literary fiction/memoir comfort zones. A time-traveling, dystopian murder mystery with a cast of one, this book basically blew my mind. Each year our narrator (who has no name) celebrates his birthday at a party in an abandoned hotel in a future New York where the only guests are past and future versions of himself. The book starts with his 39th birthday party, the year that a dead version of himself and a beautiful woman in a red dress appear at the party for ...more
Huh. Not really sure what I just spent several days reading. I liked the writing style (though I do agree with another reviewer's comment that there should be a ban on certain phrases) and the imagery was very vivid. However, I found that the plot became more and more convoluted as the story progressed. I am not really thrilled with the ending, as it seemed inconsistent and artificial. Too many unanswered questions for my tastes, and I do like sic-fi/time travel stories in general. Oh well. At l ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I know someone who got an ARC of this book at BEA this year, and I was fortunate enough to be able to read it.

This is an incredibly lonely-feeling book. Ferrell has emptied out New York City and confined his narrator to interacting almost exclusively with older and younger versions of himself (most of whom he strongly dislikes, for various reasons), and the result is a strong sense of being isolated. The flip side of this is that it's a fascinating exploration of the way we see ourselves. Ferrel
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Bone Wires
  • Jezebel's Ladder (Jezebel's Ladder, #1)
  • The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume Two (Miss Temple, Doctor Svenson, and Cardinal Chang #1.2)
  • Slab City Blues: The Ballad of Bad Jack
  • Blood Zero Sky
  • I Know Not (The Legacy of Fox Crow, #1)
  • Snap
  • House of Corruption
  • The Prophet
  • Blood Rush (Demimonde, #2)
  • Brambleman
  • vN (The Machine Dynasty, #1)
  • Convergent Space
  • The Love Song of Jonny Valentine
  • The Landing (The United States of Vinland #1)
  • Hikikomori and the Rental Sister: A Novel
  • The Headmaster's Wager
  • Katya's World (Russalka Chronicles, #1)
Sean Ferrell lives and works in New York City. His novels include Man In The Empty Suit and Numb: A Novel.

Sean has been published in several literary journals, including The Adirondack Review which awarded him the Fulton Prize for his short story "Building an Elephant."
More about Sean Ferrell...
Numb I Don't Like Koala I Don't Like Koala: with audio recording

Share This Book

“If we place the books randomly, how are they ever found again?'

She smiled. "The books just seem to know to go where they'll be found.”
“The future vibrated with uncertainty. I had failed. I had ignorance. I had hope.” 2 likes
More quotes…