Monday, 25 July 2011

Listen:// The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold

Buy From: Iambik Audio
I've been working my way through some audiobooks I bought recently from a fairly new (at least to me) company, Iambik Audio. They sell everything DRM free at really good prices so it's worth having a look around. They also provided some excellent support when I had some issues which were probably my fault anyway, so I'll definitely be buying from them again.

First up is The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold. Not someone I'd heard about or read before, but it turns out he wrote the 'Trouble with Tribbles' Star Trek episode so I guess I am familiar with at least one piece of his work. It tells the story of Daniel Eakins, a not particularly motivated college student who inherits a 'time belt' after the death of his Uncle Jim. Daniel discovers he can travel backwards and forwards through time, and shortly after this does the obvious thing and starts placing bets on horses accompanied by a future version of himself. He's soon jumping all over the place, visiting historical events, changing the past and the future, and creating paradoxes all over which are explained away with a multiple universes idea. As the book progresses there are more and more versions of himself, interacting in all sorts of ways, until both Daniel and the reader start to question his identity.

It's hard to say much more about the plot without giving away too much, but it is a wonderfully convoluted yet neatly resolved plot. So the time travel probably doesn't make much sense, as time travel rarely does, but it can be such a great concept to explore if done well, and this is among the best examples of it in my opinion. Gerrold looks at both practical issues such as the restrictions of travel due to languages and customs, and also things like sexuality, and identity, topics that rarely enter into the majority of wish fulfilment time travel stories. It's short and sweet like many of my favourite novels, we seem to be living in the age of the epic tome, and I don't think novels are any better for being five times the length they need to be.

Narration of the audiobook is by Charles Bice, who does a great job, nice clear reading without tons of crazy voices, yet enough personality to keep things interesting. If I can forget about the narrator and just enjoy the tale, then I consider it a success.

It's not for everybody, and it's likely to offend some people with the exploration of sexuality, but I'd recommend people interested in time travel tales at least give it a try.

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