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The Man Who Folded Himself

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  3,334 Ratings  ·  410 Reviews
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
Mass Market Paperback, 165 pages
Published March 1st 1991 by Bantam Books (NY) (first published 1973)
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Aug 30, 2011 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.”
– Doctor Who

I have reviewed several time traveling novels, but this is the first time I feel the above DW quote from the fan favorite episode Blink is appropriate. The Man Who Folded Himself is stuffed to the gills with time travel paradoxes, bootstrap paradoxes even.

Time travel—as a sci-fi trope—has
Jul 30, 2016 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-shelf
So many great books out there, and then I come across this one that manages to mobilize, outwardly, all the things that go through our own minds about ourselves, our dreams, our sexuality, and our agency in our own lives.

And all it does is take the form of a short Time-Travel novel. Amazing.

I mean, seriously, let's just throw out all paradox and assume, just for a moment, that all time travel iterations are possible. This is the many, many, many-worlds interpretation. Go back and talk to yoursel
Dec 12, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Adam by: John Cartan
Dec 28, 2009: David Gerrold uses time travel to develop an extended metaphor for human life. The potentials of time travel take the loneliness, the quest for self-knowledge, and the futile quest to understand why we exist as ourselves to the most literal and profound extremes. The (almost) omnipotent protagonist Eakins constantly reshapes the timestream he exists in to suit his changing personality, and thus all his character developments become quite literally reflected in the world around him. ...more
Sep 09, 2011 Space rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't say enough good things about this book, but I can definitively narrow down all the bad things into one simple sentence. Too short.

I've read this book twice - maybe actually three times - and both times, I've read it in one single sitting - about three hours. It's highly energetic and very entertaining. The pages all but turn themselves.

The story is about a boy who opens a box, and finds a belt in it, and a journal. The journal is a collection of entries by all the people who have worn th
There's genres, sub-genres, and sub-sub-genres. Science fiction is a genre; the time-travel story is a sub-genre; and, I would argue at any rate, the time-travel story where you end up having sex with yourself is a sub-sub-genre. Someone must have written a dissertation on it by now. I'm guessing that All You Zombies is marked as the first time the idea is used by a well-known SF writer (no doubt the author of the dissertation has managed to locate several unknowns who got there before Heinlein) ...more
Megan Baxter
Nov 15, 2013 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely little mindbender of a book - not hard science, for those who are so inclined. But a true literature of ideas, looking at identity and self through the lens of time travel, through one man (and all the versions of himself) and how he chooses to use it.

He is not a representative man, that's for sure. He is self-absorbed to a fault, choosing, once he has acquired a time travel belt, to socialize only with himself.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the recent ch
Jul 01, 2015 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of time travel stories
Recommended to Amber by: Rahat Asif
When Daniel Eakins Uncle Jim passes away, he inherits a time machine shaped as a belt known as a time-belt. He quickly begins to use the object. Will the choices he makes affect the time stream as we know it and ruin the world? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good but weird time travel story that I got for a friend as part of an ebook swap I participated in at an online book club. I liked all of it but ignored the sex parts. If you like time travel stories, def check this boo
This book wasn't what I was looking for.

I wanted a book about time travel, about changing the past and the future, and about some sort of time machine device. That's what I was expecting based on the cover and the description. And yes, I got that, but I also got a lot of ruminations on how time travel works, how it affects the world, and how it affects Dan. This book is full of lots and lots of internal monologue. Not much action. Not even much time travel, when compared to the amount of thinkin
Richard Derus
Nov 17, 2011 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.875* of five

The Book Report: Danny's been livin' the high life, thanks to a bequest from his mysterious old uncle. One day, the gravy train ends, and Danny has to make his own way. With a belt. A very special time-travel-enabling belt.

An exploration of adolescent exceptionalism, a meditation on the establishment, building, and defense of identity, and an astonishingly rare representation of gay maleness in science fiction. The author, who penned "The Trouble with Tribbles" for the orig
Vignesh Umapathy
'Life is full of little surprises. Time travel is full of big ones'

Daniel Eakins receives a time-belt as a legacy from his deceased uncle. Daniel decides to use it to make some money. Things begin to get twisted, complicated and interesting when he meets his future self.

Time travel is interesting. Paradoxes of time travel make it more interesting. This one deals with more than one paradox. Daniel Eakins plays with his time belt to the fullest like nobody ever did. Eakins' adventures through the
Ashley Chua
Oct 31, 2016 Ashley Chua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of time travel stories in their purest
Brilliant little story full of my favourite classic time travel tropes and plots. Dan's old, lonely uncle left him a belt in place of a promised fortune. Dan was ready to toss the belt when he noticed that it was actually a time travel machine. And hence comes the gambling, the meeting past and future selves, the multiple timelines, and the sex with... well, yourself. I'm very happy with the cycle of Dans and Dons and how their past and future selves change the timelines of each other.

Gerrold m
Alex Hiatt
Dec 25, 2009 Alex Hiatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone (Anyone)
Recommended to Alex by: John Cartan
Gerrold's The Man Who Folded Himself is really the first time-travel story I've read. (Except for A Sound of Thunder of course, which now seems extraordinarily tepid by comparison.) That I rate it so highly may follow from this fact. I'm sure others who are more familiar with time-travel literature will find themes and situations they've already come across. But the content is mostly all fresh to me. I didn't quite relish the writing style; at least it read quick and smooth, that's something I s ...more
I love Time Travel books. It is one of my favourite sub genres of science fiction. I love all the questions it poses, the endless possibilities, the chance to rewrite history and to change your life again and again.

The story starts with Dan receiving a timebelt from his Uncle Jim and once he figures out how to operate it off he goes through time. The first stop is the lure of making money from knowing the results of a number of horse-races. With all the possibilities open to him Dan goes looking
Andrew Smith
Sep 22, 2013 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
So, my journey through the catalogue of time travel novels continues. This was recommended to me by a Goodreads friend and I instantly liked the quirky, funny start to the story. The humour ran out pretty quickly though as it started to delve, pretty deeply, into the logic and theory of time travel (can we really change the past; do we create parallel time streams, and all of that). This was ok, but a bit confusing and probably went on a little too long. That said, it was probably necessary to a ...more
May 13, 2011 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Jeff by: found it on the library shelf
Shelves: science-fiction
Considered the ultimate time travel book, I would have to agree. Not only is the classic time travel paradox (ie. if I go back in time and kill my grandfather, I will no longer exist to go back in time to kill my grandfather, therefore I will live to go back and kill my grandfather)brought forth and quickly turned on end, but the fact that time travel is really not time travel at all. (Can't tell you what it realy is without spoiling the novel for you!)

Dan inherits a belt from his guardian, Uncl
I'm truly not sure how I feel about this book.

For Ian's sake, I have to point out that it's masturbatory. Which is not at all a bad thing.

Any story about time travel, where the protagonist changes history in his own timeline, is sure to be confusing, but I'm not sure whether the confusion here is in my mind or the author's. I did see where the ending was headed, and that only adds to the confusion.

Part of my problem is that Gerrold seems to be unsure of the consequences of time travel himself (w
Maggie K
Sep 25, 2013 Maggie K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So much to think about here...this ended up being a lot more thought provoking than I thought it would be.

I usually don't care that much for the first person POV, but here it essential. The paradoxes are alarming to me, yet not the normal ones you would think...the internal paradox is what's focused on here.
Kevin Richey
Mar 02, 2012 Kevin Richey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every now and again I stumble on a book that is highly original that I’ve never heard anyone talk about, but for those that have read it, it’s like being initiated into a cult. Sometimes they’re under-read classics like Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther or Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. Sometimes they’re surprisingly good lesser works by great modern authors, like Patrick Süskind’s The Pigeon. But today I came across what was apparently a bestseller upon its release, and still con ...more
*Unavoidable SPOILERS. All the reviews for this book are full of them.*

What would you have done if you’d inherited a time belt at 19? Gone back in time and gotten rich, for one. Spent hours pondering time paradoxes. Had a nice, quiet dinner with yourself. Traveled through every age. Witnessed the most important events in history. Done some dusting and cleaning in order to improve the past. Seen Jesus. Drunk Coke in Pompeii. Stolen baby Hitler. Had sex with yourself.

Wait, what?

Okay, probably not
Dennis Liggio
May 19, 2010 Dennis Liggio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the quintessential time-travel novels. This one leaves behind questions of how or an emphasis on how hard it is. The narrator is given a time travel belt that is easy to use, with no drawbacks, and time paradoxes are not possible. Instead, changes are additive, so the last change made sticks. Meaning, if he makes a mistake, he can (and often did) go back and tell himself not to do that. He can also freely talk and hangout with past selves.

Instead the focus on this novel becomes the possib
Jul 18, 2011 Tej rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: time-travel
I know I gave this 3 stars which is supposed to suggest "I like this book" according the GoodRead pop up bubbles. But I didnt like it. I didnt enjoy the book either. But I did find it fascinating and very clever. Its a very weird book, quite radical and...did I mention downright weird?

Its more of a philosophical musing and study of the life of Daniel, who is a time traveller. The book is about him and him alone. The rules of time travel allows all possibilities of choices to exist as layers on
Dec 22, 2009 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I recently read a presentation of time travel by David Gerrold in his novel, The Man Who Folded Himself. Gerrold's novel is not recent - it was published more than thirty years ago - but a friend recommended it to me (it is one of his favorites) and I finally read it. Like Wells' novel it is slight, less than 150 pages, but in that thin novel Gerrold packs a striking picture of the nature of time travel. In his view there exist multiple universes all populated with different versions on one's or ...more
Mur Lafferty
Jan 26, 2013 Mur Lafferty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 2013-books
Was taking to my kid about time travel stories and i kept referring to this one, but realized all I remembered was the mansion where all the versions of Dan went to party. So I picked it up and reread it in a day.
It was as good as I remembered. The protagonist, Dan, is a little narcissistic, with a middle class-inspired boredom, but that makes this adventure perfect for him. His uncle leaves him a time traveling belt in his will and dan spends his life wandering the world and all of time. But w
Amun (Mohamed Elbadwihi)
This is a fun book about time travel. Lots of amazing concepts, including Dan's exploration—in the deepest, most intimate way—of his own self, which isn't the first thing one normally thinks about when they think about time travel. Loved every bit of that :)

As always, from the book—

As I was going up the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd go away!

-Hughes Mearns (The Psychoed)
So this is love.
The giving. The taking.
The abandonment of rol
Jun 06, 2016 Camille rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, 2016
I would read pages, then pause and think. I would think about what I would do if I was given a time traveling device. I would wonder if I would do the same things as the protagonist. I wondered if things would be different for me, being a black woman, and if I could casually stand around and watch history unmolested.

This book had me thinking so many things... and it was wonderful. It was so great, I think I have to read it again because the ending has a bit of a twist, that I'm sure I'll gain a
Review to follow

This was such a fun and fantastic read! What if time travel were possible, and if so, what effect would it have on the person traveling back and forth through time? David Gerrold explores this issue, as well as looks at the very elements that help define human life itself. The book is written as a series of journals/notes as our protagonist travels through time, discovering himself, not only internally, but meeting several incarnations of himself as he continually alters aspects
Nov 06, 2012 Dustin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, time-travel
It's a time travel story, but it's not really about the time travel, so much as it's about the time traveler. It's not about their exploits in time so much as it's about how they've lived with themselves (in a very, let's say narcissistic way) and how they've come to understand themselves. As a time travel story you might be disappointed to learn it features no dinosaurs, pirates, "Meanwhile, in the past..."or amazing future technology, but it does delve deeply into the nature of the character.
Jan 12, 2013 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. The premise (time travel) and the story line are first-rate. Not only an interesting tale, but plenty of space is given to discussion of the philosophy and human impact of the situation. Classic SF! But there are elements of the story that either I flat out disagreed with or caused me to feel uncomfortable. Not sure I would h=want to read the book again. Hence, the 3 star rating.
Ben Kruskal
Jul 18, 2015 Ben Kruskal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating time travel novel with a very philosophical and psychological bent. Explores the changing-the-past/paradox issue and comes up with an interesting and plausible explanation. Also explores questions of selfhood. A surprisingly though-provoking short novel. Strongly recommended.
G.R. Reader
I've never seen so much heinleining in my life. But why wasn't Bob invited to the party? I kept waiting for him to turn up as a minor character, but he never did.
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different versions? 1 14 Nov 12, 2014 06:03AM  
What's The Name o...: SOLVED: scifi: novel: time-traveler, uses belt device 5 33 Mar 10, 2014 12:03AM  
Time travelling paradox 1 27 Dec 18, 2013 08:05AM  
Science Fiction A...: * November 2013 Themed Read - The Man Who Folded Himself 27 48 Dec 08, 2013 11:07AM  
Time Travel: THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF (*spoilers*) 60 134 Feb 07, 2012 09:08AM  
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“I think I exist, therefore I exist. I think.” 12 likes
“Somewhere there exists all the possible variations of all the possible people I could be. I could be any of them- but I cannot be all. I can only be one of the variations. I will be the variation of myself that pleases me the most.” 7 likes
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