My first exposure to David Gerrold was on the original Star Trek series; he's the guy who wrote "The Trouble With Tribbles." The first of his novels that I read was When H.A.R.L.I.E. Was One, which is itself a delightful read. This one, however, was an absolute kick in the rubber parts. Gerrold wrote what I call "the last time travel novel." After this one, I didn't think the genre could ever be broached again.
With the aid of a belt inherited from his uncle, our hero slowly learns how to travel through time. At first, he moves a day ahead, hoping to get some money by playing the ponies. When he pops into tomorrow, he finds himself -- another one of himself, a day older, of course -- who has already done all this, thus knows everything that will happen. After 24 hours, time catches up, and he finds his younger self popping in, and our hero is now The Guy Who Knows Everything. Kind of a power trip, huh?
This, then, is Gerrold's answer to the famous question: What happens if you travel in time and meet yourself? No worries -- you just folded the timeline a bit (hence the title of the book), and the two of you can go have lunch together. However, the more you fold, the more of you there are. The more of you there are, the more they might diverge from yourself, make other choices, become other sorts of people... and that's when it starts getting complicated. Remember: Each one of you has his own belt...
No spoilers -- I won't tell you what happens. Not only is it too much fun to read and discover it for yourself, it's also so complicated that I couldn't begin to explain! What makes this book so much fun is the philosophical approach to time travel. What do you change, or should you? What can you improve, or help with, or for that matter, what can you get away with? Some of the local film buffs might ask WWBD? (What Would Bueller Do?)
It's a candy shop of possibility, and our hero nibbles on just about every variety out there (twice on the good stuff), and you're along for the ride. As you read, ask yourself: Would you put on that belt? And just how much trouble would you want to stir up? Read the book -- with its nice bit of surprise ending -- and see for yourself!
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