Time Travel discussion

The Man Who Folded Himself
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Book Club Discussions > THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF (*spoilers*)

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message 1: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited Jul 14, 2011 06:54PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Discussion starts here on The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold.

Reading period: July 14 - August 14, 2011.

FYI: The Kindle eBook version is available for $2.99.


message 2: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Jul 17, 2011 07:17PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Since I nominated this book, I thought I'd start off the discussion.

I suggested this book because I've had it on by TBR radar for several months. When I got my kindle in 2009, I immediately started looking for time travel stories that were available in e-book format. I searched several "favorite time travel story" lists on Goodreads and elsewhere. While I found many great titles, this was one of the few that was available for the kindle.

I've been told that the "print edition" of this book is hard to find. Hopefully, those non-kindle readers who want to join the discussion will have an old copy or can find one at their local library.

Anyway, about the book itself. I started reading it last night, but I only made it through the introduction. So I don't have a lot to say... yet. Stay tuned.


message 3: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Jul 18, 2011 01:53PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
After reading the first third of this book, I can tell already that this is not going to be like most of the other time travel stories I've read. So far, the book seems to be a mind trip on what might happen if there were no limits on the use of a time travel device.

Right off the bat, the author breaks one of the traditional rules of time travel by allowing the traveler to interact with himself in the past and alter the time line. Gerrold deals with some pretty "heady" issues about the paradoxes of time travel, yet I've found this book to be a fairly easy read so far.

While there are several quandaries presented, the one mystery that I can't seem to resolve in my own mind is what I will call the "red sweater paradox." Dan (our main character) decides not to wear his red sweater when he makes his first leap back in time to meet himself even though his future self did have on the red sweater. It is a test to see whether he can alter what already happened when he met his future self in his past. As a result, he now has two red sweaters that are not just identical but exactly the same sweater, and these two sweaters will continue to exist together in that time line. Confusing? You betcha.

I don't know why this seemingly trivial concept blows my mind so much. I guess I'm left to wonder what would happen if someone were to take a unique historical object such as Da Vinci's painting of the "Mona Lisa" and transport it 24 hours into the past. If his alternate "past-self" then decides to take a different object back in time when it's his turn to relive the previous day, then he has essentially cloned the painting. Could it be done? The jury is still out on that one.

The fact that this book has no actual chapters bothered me at first, but I have grown to like the journal like format of the story. I look forward to discovering what other time travel mysteries Gerrold will explore.


message 4: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited Jul 19, 2011 08:35PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
I haven't started the book just yet, but I'm eager to jump into the discussion

In the meantime, I thought I'd offer some tidbits about the author and book for those who are (like me) still lagging behind the actual reading.

David Gerrold's writing career actually started with writing one of the most popular original Star Trek episodes, "The Trouble With Tribbles". You might also know his writing from the movie based on his novel The Martian Child: A Novel About a Single Father Adopting a Son (starring John Cussack). Some familiar television programs he wrote for include Star Trek (original, animated, and next generation), Land of the Lost (the year after he wrote this novel), Sliders (sadly, after the series was dying a horrible death), The Twilight Zone, and Babylon 5.

The Man Who Folded Himself was written in 1973 and was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1973 and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1974 (beaten out in both cases by Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke).

I was reading that this book has some similarities to a famous short story that I'd love to discuss when we finish reading this book. I'm just a little sad that an important plot element has been spoiled already by having read that short story (so I won't mention the name of it just yet). However, let's just say that I'm already itching for discussion and I haven't even read this novel yet.


message 5: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Thanks for sharing that info, Amy. I knew about some of his work related to Star Trek, but had no idea he wrote for Sliders. That was one of my favorite shows, and I recently bought the first two seasons through iTunes.

I'm almost done with the book and am curious about this short story you mentioned. I would love to read it as a follow-up to this book.


message 6: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
I started reading last night. Funny. Lots of the information I added about the author was in the Kindle introduction. You never get an author introduction like that. Oh well, maybe it will gather interest from some Trekkies who weren't planning to read it before.

Sliders is definitely a favorite of mine. I just wish it hadn't gotten so horrible in the last couple of seasons. I don't think Gerrold had much to work with when he wrote the episode.

I'm going to set up a separate thread for the short story I mentioned when we finish this book because to discuss it elsewhere would be to spoil it.

This book looks like a quick read, though. I got through 10% of it in a few snatched moments before falling asleep.


message 7: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Oh, one reference that is lost on me ...

The main character buys hundreds of "compact disks". Obviously, in 1973, the CD as we know it wasn't yet in existence. So when the author mentions "compact disks", what exactly is he talking about?


Vicki (vlord) | 25 comments Amy,
Thanks for letting us know about the Kindle version.
I just downloaded it and am excited for the discussions......now if Life 101 will not get in the way too much I plan to get this read soon.


message 9: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "The main character buys hundreds of "compact disks". Obviously, in 1973, the CD as we know it wasn't yet in existence. So when the author mentions "compacct disks", what exactly is he talking about?..."

When we were nominating books, Andy noted that they revised this book a few years back and updated some of the references in an effort to modernize the book. I noticed the reference to compact disks as well, but assumed it was a revision and that he was taking about a CD.


message 10: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Really? Because that just makes it more confusing. If you're making a modern version of a movie, that's one thing. But if you're going to update a book that way, you need a warning because you assume it's going to be either limited to the technology of the publish date or projecting ideas of a futuristic world.

I was just watching an episode of a television series from the '90s yesterday and thought how the plot wouldn't work as well these days since you wouldn't call someone from a pay phone only to find that they're not home. Instead, you'd both have cell phones and not be running all over town calling anonymously from payphones. I do wonder how well kids who grew up always having cell phones at their disposal would understand that plot. But they're not total idiots; they could figure it out.


message 11: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Jul 21, 2011 07:07AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
I found this at the site Andy's Anachronisms (www.timetravelreviews.com/books/gerro...). Perhaps this is the same Andy who posted in our nomination thread.

"Out of print for many years, The Man Who Folded Himself was recently reprinted by BenBella Books with an introduction from Canadian SF writer Robert Sawyer. One word of caution, the reprinted edition has had minor revisions that seem to be limited to updating the novel with modern references, such as CDs in place of LPs."

The kindle version is also from BenBella Books, so I must assume it is also the revised edition. And I agree, Amy. A notation or explanation in the intro would have been nice.


message 12: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Jul 21, 2011 09:50AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
I finished the book last night, and let me just say that the "red sweater" conundrum I mentioned earlier is nothing compared to some of the other issues/paradoxes/anomalies related to time travel that are addressed in this book. I will wait to discuss any specific issues so as not to spoil it for the rest of the group. However, I will say that I was very disappointed in the ending. I was able to stay fairly open minded, but the last few pages pushed the limits on the traditional rules/doctrine/dogma of time travel.


message 13: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan (jan_peterson) | 5 comments It's been a while since I read the book, but in the original, it was definitely a collection of LPs (long playing vinyl record albums, for you younger folks). I read the "modernized" version, too, and didn't like it as much (maybe because of remembering the original).


message 14: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited Jul 23, 2011 03:22PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Ack! The "red sweater paradox" (as John called it) or the "race track winnings paradox" (as I'm thinking of it) is making my head hurt. So many authors avoid this scenario, making up rules about never meeting yourself or never traveling during your own timeline, etc. But, really, if time travel were possible, it would surely be like this. Anything you did to alter the past would alter your future such that you would be creating alternate worlds just by time traveling. I have The Hidden Reality Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos in my library audiobook queue. I might have to check it out sooner rather than later after reading this book.


message 15: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "Ack! The "red sweater paradox" (as John called it) or the "race track winnings paradox" (as I'm thinking of it) is making my head hurt..."

I agree that the whole "multiple alternate universe" idea is a little confusing. However, I'm much more willing to accept Gerrold's explanation of this paradox than I am about the final "father and son" scenario. I will be eager to hear if anyone else disliked the ending as much as I did.


message 16: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
The 6 Dan/Don/Danny scenario is ... er ... strangely unmentioned in time travel novels not written by 15-year-olds. And I think that's all I have to say about that. ;)


message 17: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "The 6 Dan/Don/Danny scenario is ... er ... strangely unmentioned in time travel novels not written by 15-year-olds. And I think that's all I have to say about that. ;)"

Ditto.


message 18: by Dan (new)

Dan | 60 comments First, in order to provide some calibration I would say that I consider "The Anubis Gates," "The Doomsday Book" and "Timeline" to be good time travel books. Thus, if you think otherwise you may disagree with my assessment of "The Man Who Folded Himself" as well. Second, I just finished reading this book and was rather disappointed. Perhaps I was expecting too much because "The Man Who Folded Himself" has received some pretty good reviews elsewhere. For now, I will only say that one disappointment was that the story was essentially entirely philosophical. That is, there was nothing along the lines of any of the three books I mention above, where the protagonist goes back in time and has an adventure there. To avoid spoilers I will save my other comments for the future (a small pun).


message 19: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Dan, please tell me that you are in no way connected to any of the Dan's in this story. Just kidding. I totally agree with you. I also had high expectations of this book because it was well reviewed and recommended on so many "favorites" lists. The more I learn about the author, the more I realize that much of the philosophical ideas included in this book are really just the authors own presumptions.


message 20: by Dan (new)

Dan | 60 comments In the past, I have been called Danny and Daniel, and some people still use those variations depending on when they first met me, so I guess you could say there are/have been three versions of me.


message 21: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited Jul 27, 2011 06:14AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
I'm only 60% through and have an idea how it ends, but I'd have to agree. I'd certainly never list it as a favorite time travel read. As you said, Dan/Danny/Daniel, there's not much of an adventure to be had. Although, I have to say there's more adventure than in How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe which also receives good reviews and has more philosophy than anything else (but that I didn't like). Everyone likes something different I suppose, but this just isn't my favorite type of time travel novel.


message 22: by Andy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andy Taylor (sooguy) | 89 comments John wrote: "I found this at the site Andy's Anachronisms (www.timetravelreviews.com/books/gerro...). Perhaps this is the same Andy who posted in our nomination thread.

"Out of print for many ye..."


Yup, that was my review. Yes, I was kind annoyed when they updated the book with modern references. There was other references too like the amount of money he got from his uncle.

I haven't read the book in a few years, but I am surprised that no one is loving this book as much as I did at the time I first read it. I will have to re-read it and see if my opinion of it still holds on a second reading.

Sorry I haven't been more active in the discussion.


message 23: by Andy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andy Taylor (sooguy) | 89 comments Dan wrote: "First, in order to provide some calibration I would say that I consider "The Anubis Gates," "The Doomsday Book" and "Timeline" to be good time travel books. Thus, if you think otherwise you may dis..."


Oooh, we should debate Michael Chricton's "Timeline" its got more plot holes than the movie!


message 24: by Dan (new)

Dan | 60 comments I should clarify that when I said "Timeline" was a "good" time travel book I meant that it was fun to read, whereas I did not find "The Man Who Folded Himself" particularly enjoyable for the reasons mentioned above.


message 25: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
I did enjoy Timeline (the book, not the movie) despite the plot holes mainly because the storyline was interesting. I think it must be difficult to write about time travel without the plot holes.

I wonder if The Man Who Folded Himself is one of those books you enjoy or not depending on the time in your life or the age when you read it or your state of mind when reading. I've re-read some of my favorites from the past to find that they are no longer favorites.


message 26: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
I also liked Timeline, despite the obvious flaws. And I agree that the book was much better than the movie. I think Amy is right in that some books may be more or less enjoyable depending on your age. And then there are those books that are timeless and are enjoyable no matter your age. I may have enjoyed this book more when I was young. Yet I think the ending would still have been less than satisfying.


message 27: by Dan (new)

Dan | 60 comments I agree that the movie "Timeline" was quite poor, and such a disappointment because it seems like it would have been easy to do a decent job with it (for example, I think "Jurassic Park" was quite good and that could not have been any easier to make--I guess they did not want to spend the necessary money on "Timeline"). Does anyone know of any truly good time travel movies?


message 28: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited Jul 28, 2011 07:30AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Does anyone know of any truly good time travel movies?

I really enjoyed the 2002 "Time Machine" movie. I thought it was beautiful. Other than that, no.

We have a "Time Travel at the Movies" folder in our group discussion that hasn't had any posts in it yet. I should get a thread started for that question a little later today.


message 29: by Linda (last edited Jul 28, 2011 08:46AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Linda Tate | 4 comments I didn't like the "The Man Who Folded Himself" myself. The thought of having sex with your "other selves" is gross. And there wasn't anything dramatic other than he making duplicates of himself. I went 2/3 of the way and after seeing a "female" version of himself and all I got bored with it and stopped reading it. I love the books "A Time to Remember" and "Time on my Hands", "Replay", "Kindred". Are there any more like those?


message 30: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Dan wrote: "Does anyone know of any truly good time travel movies?"

You have to admit that "Back to the Future" was pretty good. "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" is another one of my favorites. :D


message 31: by Dan (new)

Dan | 60 comments Yes, I had forgotten about the "Back to the Future" series, each of which is probably one of the better time travel movies. I have not seen "The Time Machine," but will put that on my list. Is "Bill & Ted's..." actually a good movie? I have not seen it.


message 32: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Jul 28, 2011 01:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
If you liked the movie "Dumb & Dumber," then you will like "Bill & Ted..." Imagine what would happen if two idiots got ahold of a time machine.

So what did you think of the ending of our book club selection, Dan? To me, the author has created the ultimate paradox. It reminds me of the discussion about what came first: the chicken or the egg. To me, there is no way that this ending could work.

It sort of reminds me of the original "Terminator" movie (another good one to add to the list) where the guy who comes back to save John Conner's mom ends up becoming his father. That was a real mind bender, but still possible in my opinion.

I have one more time travel movie to add to the list, but I can't remember the name. Does anyone remember a movie starring Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells? In the movie, Jack the Ripper borrows a time machine created by Wells to escape police, and Wells follows him into the future to either kill him or bring him back.

Oops, I lied. I just thought of one more. "12 Monkeys" is a very good time travel movie. In fact, it would be in my top three favorites. I highly recommend it.


message 33: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Amazon.com just suggested to me Alternate Gerrolds An Assortment of Fictitious Lives by David Gerrold Alternate Gerrolds: An Assortment of Fictitious Lives. Eep! No! Make it stop!

Yes, "12 Monkeys" is an all time favorite of mine. How could I forget that one? I guess I tend to think of it as a post-apocalyptic.


message 34: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
LOL. That popped up on my list of recommendations also. I used the "fix this recommendation" option so that Amazon no longer suggests books by Gerrold.


message 35: by Dan (new)

Dan | 60 comments I am pretty willing to accept paradoxes as long as the overall story is good. Dare I say that one aspect I did not care for at all was the homosexual angle. I wanted to read this book because it was science fiction, not because it was gay literature. I am not homophobic, I just did not expect this to be such an emphasis in the book, but then I knew nothing about Gerrold when I started to read it.

I forgot about "Terminator" and "12 Monkeys". I have only seen the latter once, and need to watch it again. I think the movie with Malcolm McDowell is "Time After Time," which I have not seen.


message 36: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited Jul 29, 2011 09:21AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Okay. I just finished reading. I wouldn't have pegged the book as "gay" if I hadn't read the author's note at the end. He did, after all, write it when it would not have been socially acceptable to write gay literature. I would have just read the book as a story of self-love without the note at the end. However, I was really put off the book by the fact that the whole story became the self-love once it started. After that, there was no other story.

I do have one question: Do you remember Dan interacting with anyone other than the lawyer and Uncle Jim?


message 37: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Jul 29, 2011 08:04PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
I'm not sure. That's an interesting observation. I would have to go back and reread the first part again. Once he meets himself, I don't think he interacts with anyone. However, he must have talked to someone at the race track when he placed his bets.

So what did you think of the Dan-is-his-own-father (and mother) ending?


message 38: by Andy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andy Taylor (sooguy) | 89 comments John wrote: "I have one more time travel movie to add to the list, but I can't remember the name. Does anyone remember a movie starring Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells? In the movie, Jack the Ripper borrows a time machine created by Wells to escape police, and Wells follows him into the future to either kill him or bring him back.
"


You are thinking of "Time After Time".

My review of it is here - http://www.timetravelreviews.com/movi...


message 39: by Andy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andy Taylor (sooguy) | 89 comments Personally I enjoyed the book BECAUSE of its gay undertones. I had no idea going into it that it was going to be about that. I thought it was a very unique perspective of a time traveller and a very frank discussion about discovering and confronting your own sexuality.

I guess I am in the minority here.


message 40: by Dan (new)

Dan | 60 comments I am not sure about the "confronting your own sexuality" angle. Gerrold suggests that having sex with yourself would be optimal because of course you know exactly what you want and how best to please yourself. I do not think that is necessarily the optimal situation for a sexual relationship. That is, part of the pleasure is in the mystery, and trying to figure out what pleases the other person. Although it is hypothetical, and thus I cannot be certain of my actions if faced with the actual possibility, the idea of having sex with myself in the context of how it is presented in this book is not particularly appealing.


message 41: by Tej (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
Total Film Magazine just featured a top 50 time travel movie list http://www.totalfilm.com/features/50-...

My favourites are Back to the Future, Butterfly Effect, and um...Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban!

But there is one time travel movie I recommend watching as it is probably the cleverest and most complicated time travel film of all time...Primer. Features in the top 5 of the list. Thing is, it really takes repeated viewing to grasp the complexity of it. On top of that, I dont actually find the film entertaining, as its so very serious. Though I recommend everyone to see it, I kind of contradict myself when I say, its not in my favourite list, lol.


message 42: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited Jul 29, 2011 07:50PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Okay. Since the cat's been let out of the bag about the not-so-surprise ending of the story, I've marked this discussion as having spoilers.

As such, I'd like to offer Robert Heinlein's "All You Zombies" (written in 1958) as a companion short story for this book. Despite the title, the story is not about zombies. The ending is similar to The Man Who Folded Himself. This story explains why Pop wears an Ouroboros ring on his finger with a snake eating its own tail. It's the story of how a foundling baby came to be in an orphanage. It's an impossible deterministic story with an unchangeable timeline.

If you read the story and need an explanation of what happened, go here. For a timeline of events in the story go here.


message 43: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Wow, Robert Heinlein managed to do in a few pages what it took David Gerrold an entire book to do. This is another serious mind trip. I will have to read it again before it really makes sense.


message 44: by Dan (new)

Dan | 60 comments Tej, thanks for the URL. I had completely forgotten about "Primer". I agree with your assessment. I have watched it about 3 times, and still feel like I am missing something. I think it is a "must see" for time travel movies, but it is hard to call a favorite. Fortunately, it is rather short.


message 45: by Tej (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
I just finished The Man Who folded Himself. I reviewed it but didnt explore anything in detail as I dont write spoilers. I wish I had read it earlier so I could have joined in your spoiler discussions! Certainly a lot to think about. I didnt enjoy the book simply because I disliked the protagonist. But damn was the TT concept radical...and so bloody weird. I agree with Amy, I was also very put off when the focus was on Daniel's homosexual and sexual afairs with himself/herself. I didnt mention this in my review as I deemed it as a spoiler.

This group rocks, so glad to have joined it. Going to read Amy's accompanying recommendation "All you Zombies" next.


message 46: by Jon (new) - rated it 1 star

Jon (jozza) | 2 comments Hi all I joined the group yesterday and saw the book discussion thread and thought I'd better get a move on and read it as I don't read too fast, as it happens I read it in a single sitting (very quiet day) and was sorely disappointed.
I thought it started promisingly as an ordinary mans perspective to time travel but then the self relationship just got in the way turning it into a navel inspecting, depressing piece of philosophy.

Overall I feel that the author missed an opportunity.


message 47: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Aug 07, 2011 03:45PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Welcome to the group, Jon. I think many of us would agree with your assessment of this book. Had I known more about it, I probably would not have nominated it in the first place. Surprisingly, this book is found on many "best time travel book" lists, which is why I suggested it. Perhaps our next selection will be better.


message 48: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette Hasley | 2 comments Nearly halfway there, and the big time travel dilemma to date is what will happen to his clothes and who borrowed what. Protagonist: "there should be a parking spot right over here....
Dan was impressed with how I knew my way around."

Well maybe Dan is, but this reader isn't impressed by how well the author knows his way around time travel issues.
What's going to happen to my slacks? And masturbation aren't common fare for time travel novels...so those looking for that have found their book. If you like to read events in history as if they are a grocery list, this book will thrill you. I am 2/3s of the way through...and I can't go on. I will look forward to the next book on the group's list.


message 49: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (last edited Sep 24, 2011 08:31AM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 901 comments Sorry I came in so late but I'm a newer member.

Personally, I had fun with the book. Philosophy Lite. What would it be like to know yourself so well?

But D. wasn't gay. S/he was incestual. Gerrold was writing as an ignorant (or disingenuous) product of his times.

If anyone still wants to read the original MM paperback, and lives in the US, I'd be delighted to ship my copy to you.


Jamie (swingcorey) | 52 comments Hello all - just joined this group, but I'd read this particular book quite a while ago. Gotta say that I like the thoughts and viewpoints expressed in this group.

It's definitely a mind-bender at first, but then it kinda loses something toward then end, if you think of it strictly as a time-travel book.

BUT... if you think of it as a mind exercise, what is this book really saying? It's more than just an exercise in time paradoxes. It looks into the self-imposed isolation of adventurers, explorers, and others who go where others have not.

The self-love/homosexual/incestual/whatever relationship(s) in the book detail the sense of loss that no one else can relate to what the main character has been through. Much like former U.S. Presidents tend to hang out with each other, in spite of party divides or vitriol in past debates, this book is trying to explain what happens in ultra-elite clubs.

Another example is those who have been to the moon and back. Is there anyone Michael Collins - the man in the orbiter while Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon - can relate to on planet Earth? (I'm borrowing this example from another great time travel book, Replay.)

I think this self-imposed isolation of being the only time traveller is most poignantly pointed out just prior to his first sexual encounter with himself: he tries to stop himself from doing that, because it would lead to never breaking out and interacting with the rest of "non-Dan" human society. He recognizes that something is missing that can't really be fulfilled by himself alone - he simply rationalizes it by saying that only he knows what would please him best.

This is where the ending itself was lacking: he ends up going back in time, just prior to death, and giving himself the key to his own lonliness and isolation (even tempting him with the promise of immense wealth). He chooses the time adventure over true interpersonal relationships. It serves as a lesson to us, but one that he neglects to learn (and ultimately perpetuates to his son/self).


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