Shortly after, Uncle Jim dies, and Daniel inherits a "Timebelt" from him that allows the wearer to travel through time. Daniel quickly learns how to use the Timebelt and makes a few short jumps into his own future. He meets an alternate version of himself, who accompanies him to a race-track where the pair make a fortune betting on horse-racing. Daniel repeatedly encounters alternate versions of himself and enjoys his own company, ultimately having sex with himself and beginning a relationship with himself.
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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. But Dan soon finds that there are limits to his powers and forces beyond his control.
One day, the gravy train ends, and Danny has to make his own way. With a belt. A very special time-travel-enabling belt. An exploration of adolescent exceptionalism, a meditation on the establishment, building, and defense of identity, and an astonishingly rare representation of gay maleness in science fiction. The author, who penned "The Trouble with Tribbles" for the original Star Trek series, tackles all this heaviness in less than pp, and never makes it feel like any tackling is being done.
The ewww-ick-they-do-WHAT? For my teenaged self, this book blew into my life at a time when I was under emotional siege from the forces of Jesus. It was a lifeline thrown from a grown person to my too-young-to-run self. I endured many a screaming, hectoring, sermonizing hour thinking that thought.
ETA a few musings and a quote. In going back over the edition of this book, I thought to compare it to the edition that blew my mind wide open when first read I was not going to sleep a peaceful night until I found a room full of men having sex with each other and diving in.
It was lovely to see, and BenBella Books deserves our thanks for making room in this timeline for it to happen. And world. The frame has been dusted and re-gilded to keep the portrait sharply focused. It takes nothing away from the central and beautiful idea of the book, the inner life of an infinity of people contained in one-many-same-different body-brain-spirit.
If I figure it out, I will change it. And that quote: My body has not experienced its years in sequence. But it has experienced years. And it has aged. And my mind has been carried headlong with it—this lump of flesh travels through time its own way, in a way that no man has the power to change. I have spent a lifetime analyzing my life. Living it. And rewriting it to suit me.
The Man Who Folded Himself