I love sinking my teeth into fresh, still-crunchy titles. For example, I am planning my next read to be the latest installment of Cholewa's "Algorithms of War."
But sometimes I dive into the literary archives. This time, it's "The Man Who Folded Himself" by David Gerrold. Written in 1971, the story kicks off in 2005. Dan, our main man and narrator, resides in a rented New York apartment. He's a student, and financially, he's not exactly rolling in dough but isn't scraping the barrel either.
One fine day, Uncle Jim visits Dan and instructs him to start a diary. Jim also spills the beans: he's invested Dan's childhood inheritance so wisely that Dan is now worth well over a hundred million dollars. Cash flow aside, Dan's financial worries are pretty much over.
A few days later, Jim kicks the bucket. Post-funeral, Dan learns from the lawyers that the millions are a no-show; old Jim was probably rambling. Instead, he inherits a slimmer bank account and a mysterious package to be opened only in private.
Inside the package? A belt. That's it.
Oh, wait, there's also an instruction manual.
Because the belt turns out to be an actual, bona-fide time machine!
From here on, it's a roller coaster. Dan experiments with the belt's various modes, including spectator-only time travel and several more advanced features.
Paradoxes? Oh, they're there, but Gerrold explains them so well that there's hardly anything to nitpick.
Interesting tidbit: the book, written around 1971, predicts a 9/11-like event. Coincidence or did Gerrold have a time machine and didn't tell us? 🙂
Anachronisms? A few, mainly revolving around magnetic tapes for data storage, but nothing jarring.
On the time travel front, the book is rock-solid, addressing almost all types of temporal paradoxes, including changing one's gender with the smallest disruption to the past.
Another layer: Gerrold is openly gay, and Dan is bisexual, which leads to intriguing questions like: is having sex with yourself from another timeline still masturbation or something more?
For those interested in details, check out the book. In short, Gerrold's opinion is that (A) it's nobody's business what I do in bed and with whom, and (B) sexuality is just one of the many facets of human personality, yet we often blow out of proportion the fact that someone is "different," making a mountain out of a molehill, unnecessarily and senselessly.
In summary, I give the book a solid 9.5/10. Now, off to hunt for the latest "War Algorithms," which I've been missing out on for weeks. Time for a new read!