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The Man Who Folded Himself

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  4,793 ratings  ·  628 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 ...more
Paperback, 127 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by BenBella Books (first published 1973)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  4,793 ratings  ·  628 reviews

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Richard Derus
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Frank Phillips
Rating: 5* of five

The Publisher Says: 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 go back in time and talk himself out of making it! But Dan soon finds that there are li
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing

“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 rated it it was amazing
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
Dan Schwent
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, 2019-books
When Daniel Eakins's Uncle Jim dies, he inherits a belt that allows him to travel through time...

I haven't had a ton of time to read since my son was born. In fact, I'm typing this with him asleep in the crook of my arm. The two or three weeks it took me to finish this are no indication of the book's quality. It was pretty fucking good.

In The Man Who Folded Himself, David Gerrold uses Daniel Eakins to explore the nature of time and of man himself. The way he handles time travel has been used by
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
Dec 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Actual rating: 2.96642203659 stars.

This started out to be Super Extra Good (SEG™) but turned out to be Super Extra Meh (SEM™). Which is Slightly Very Outrageous since the book was written the glorious year I was born. Which should have obviously guaranteed its Super Extra Goodness (SEG™). Which it didn't. Which is Slightly Very Discombobulating (SVD™), if you ask me.

Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully metaphysical, solipsistic and slightly perverse exploration of self, gender and sexuality. The author takes us on a deeply personal journey of a man as he rigorously examines and challenges all the aspects of time travel - including paradoxes, meeting multiple selves and alternate realities - as they relate to his sense of self, his needs to love and be loved, and ultimately his place in the world.
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
Megan Baxter
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Alex Bright
Jan 18, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a major disappointment. It was predictable, arrogant, and pretentious. The whole thing amounted to narcissistic naval-gazing.

(view spoiler)
Oleksandr Zholud
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an unusual time travel SF novel, which spends much more time on thoughts and feelings of the time traveler than on the external world. I read is as a part of monthly reading for December 2020 at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group. This book was nominated for Hugo and Nebula in 1974, but lost both to Rendezvous with Rama.

The story starts when a protagonist, a 21 years old student Daniel Eakins meets with his very old uncle Jim, who manages his trust fund. The uncle informs him that D
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of time travel stories
Recommended to Amber by: Book Ninja
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
ash c
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Andrew Smith
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Peter Tillman
"A" on reread, 1994. Intricate, sexy & fun. Read twice, I think.

2019 reread: Suck fairy called. Skimmed. 2 stars, this time. Short and self-indulgent. Dated & pretty creepy. Tossed my falling-apart pb. Never again!
Amber M. McCarter
Quite a trip...
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
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
Vignesh Umapathy
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
'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
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
R.A. Heinlein is mentioned as having been a major influence on the author. I would agree with one caveat: early Heinlein. This time traveling tale reads like YA. Golly!...Eh?...Meh
This is marketed as the ultimate time travel novel and I don't even think that's an exaggeration: this isn't about visiting the future or the past, it's 100% about time travel and what it does to a person. It's a psychological look at what that amount of power, loneliness and a mostly consequence free life lead to, while also deeply exploring a time travel theory that isn't used as much as others (and might even have been completely new at the time). It explains a lot about it really well, basic ...more
Alex Hiatt
Dec 25, 2009 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
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
This is quite possibly the most circular novel I have ever read. I cannot possibly even begin to explain what that means without giving the entire story away. So I will provide a brief synopsis. First, however, I have to tell you that I loved the basic idea of this book. What was utterly fascinating is the brilliant explanations & illustrations of paradox, and the idea that time is not linear, it is only our perception of it that is linear. I do have to tell you that some parts of the book were ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
This was a read for the GoodReads Time Travel group. I think we chose poorly as most of us didn't care for it at all. One of our main complaints is that there is little action and more theoretic discussion. Also, most of the book is devoted to the main character meeting up with falling in love with various versions of himself. It seems like something a 14-year-old boy would better appreciate than any of us did. Somehow, though, this ends up on most lists for top time travel novels. I'm not reall ...more
Steve Tripp
Nov 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: scifi
The concept of time travel has always fascinated me.... so I really wanted to like this book and for the first 30 pages (it's only 115 pages long) I did.

Then the book got stupid and confusing -- far to introspective and barely readable for the last 20 pages. I know the science of the time/spatial continuum is confusing but this book didn't help make any sense of it.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
Daniel inherits a time travel belt from him Uncle Jim upon his death. This is the book of his experience with the belt. This is not a book of historic places that Dan has gone, but a trip into Dan's experiences as a time traveler. Dan finds that he can change the future by changing the past. He is also finding that time traveling is not all that is cracked up to be.

I liked the fact that Dan could meet himself in various timelines. I think the author did a good job of explaining how a time trave
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