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Man in the Empty Suit [Kindle Edition]

Sean Ferrell
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Say you're a time traveler and you've already toured the entirety of human history. After a while, the outside world might lose a little of its luster. That's why this time traveler celebrates his birthday partying with himself. Every year, he travels to an abandoned hotel in New York City in 2071, the hundredth anniversary of his birth, and drinks twelve-year-old Scotch (lots of it) with all the other versions of who he has been and who he will be. Sure, the party is the same year after year, but at least it's one party where he can really, well, be himself.

The year he turns 39, though, the party takes a stressful turn for the worse. Before he even makes it into the grand ballroom for a drink he encounters the body of his forty-year-old self, dead of a gunshot wound to the head. As the older versions of himself at the party point out, the onus is on him to figure out what went wrong--he has one year to stop himself from being murdered, or they're all goners. As he follows clues that he may or may not have willingly left for himself, he discovers rampant paranoia and suspicion among his younger selves, and a frightening conspiracy among the Elders. Most complicated of all is a haunting woman possibly named Lily who turns up at the party this year, the first person besides himself he's ever seen at the party. For the first time, he has something to lose. Here's hoping he can save some version of his own life

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ferrell, whose first novel, Numb (2010), followed a man with amnesia, ups the offbeat ante with this unique time-travel story. For the past 19 years, the unnamed narrator has been traveling back to New York City in 2071, where he gathers in a deserted hotel with various other iterations of himself, from the past and the future, and celebrates his birthday. But this year a body turns up dead, shot in the head, and it looks like the narrator is going to die, too. The book is part murder mystery and part mind-bending time-travel story. Consider this wrinkle: if the narrator is going to die in the very near future, then how can the very-much-older versions of himself still exist? And what about all those very-much-younger versions who are suddenly at the party? And who the heck is the woman named Lily, and how did she get there? Full of imagination and head-scratching conundrums, the novel may be too unusual to attract a mass audience, but it should definitely appeal to those who enjoy offbeat sf and mystery fiction. --David Pitt


Praise for Man in the Empty Suit

"Ferrell's humor and invention will draw you in, and the real emotion in his writing will keep you reading. A clever premise that deepens into a surprising and moving story about fate, identity, and how we shape our own lives and the lives of those around us."
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

“A tour de force. Ferrell's skill in plotting is matched only by his ability to bring fully-formed characters to life. A moving and brilliantly-executed puzzle of a novel.”
—Emily St. John Mandel, author of The Lola Quartet

"Ferrell makes a strong case to be the Kurt Vonnegut of his generation. Man in the Empty Suit is alternately funny, sad, and thought-provoking.... I wish I could travel back in time and write this book myself."
Andrew Shaffer, bestselling author of Fifty Shames of Earl Grey

"Man in the Empty Suit is a marvel: a complicated, soul searching, entirely riveting piece of work."
Marcy Dermansky, author of Bad Marie

“An arresting setup—the same character is simultaneously the murder victim, suspect, and investigator—and Ferrell exploits it carefully... [presenting] the reader with some ugly truths about life and owning up to who we really are. Ferrell himself has jokingly called it the time-travel book of 3102, but I wouldn't suggest waiting that long.”
The Atlantic

“[Man in the Empty Suit has] an ingenious setup....Both Looper and Man In The Empty Suit track the trajectory of a pained, lonely man who learns what it means to sacrifice for the sake of another’s well-being.”
The A.V. Club

“Ferrell’s novel satisfies as both a tale of a four-dimensional conspiracy and as a stark meditation on solitude.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“An exceptional read for any sci-fi fan who enjoys a challenge.”
—The Maine Edge

“Ferrell (Numb) has written a brain-teasing, paradox-defying, time travel mystery in the tradition of such pretzel-bending-logic classics as Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time and Robert A. Heinlein’s 'By His Bootstraps.'”
Publishers Weekly

"Engaging and thought-provoking...It will also appeal to readers of Stephen King’s 11/22/63."
—Library Journal

"Full of imagination and head-scratching conundrums... It should definitely appeal to those who enjoy offbeat sf and mystery fiction."

"Man in the Empty Suit has a clever enough premise that it could be straight out of a Philip K. Dick or Kurt Vonnegut novel.”
—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Out of this intriguing premise Sean Ferrell proceeds to spin a dark hybrid of Paul Auster and the film Memento, complete with a mysterious love interest... Best of all, however, is the evocation of mid-21st century New York as a melancholy, dilapidated place high in entropy, cluttered with ruined buildings, and weirdly infested with parrots.”
—The Toronto Star

"Man in the Empty Suit is a rich, complex novel.... a slightly sinister, brooding tale of death and lost love."

“A most unusual murder mystery.”
—Mysterious Reviews

“Enter a mysterious woman with parrot tattoos, a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, Vonnegut-sharp humor and Hemingway-spare prose, and you’ve got some seriously good sci-fi. VERDICT: Buy, you fools!”
Book Riot

“A cerebral, noirish, and very unusual novel … a challenge for me to put down. This one made me think about it long after I was finished.”
My Bookish Ways

“This is trippy book; a great read... Ferrell spins a web of lies, deceit, and self-loathing, sprinkles it with intelligent humor and wit, a dash of love and loss, and presents it to the reader on a silver platter.”
—The Examiner

“[Man in the Empty Suit] is tickling the Dr. Who parts of my brain, but in a really dark kind of way.... As you can imagine, this has one hell of an opening line: It is unfortunate for me that I am, by most any objective measure, a genius. Quite the set up for an interesting story.”
—A Home Between Pages

Praise for Sean Ferrell's Numb

"Ferrell's eye-catching debut is a mordant take on contemporary culture."
Kirkus Reviews

"Offbeat.... The book has a lot of heart."
Publishers Weekly

"A masterwork of transgressive fiction."
David Brown, writer for The Week, The Atlantic, and Mental Floss

Product Details

  • File Size: 1216 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press; 1st edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007WL3CRS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,229 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An offbeat take on the Grandfather Paradox February 5, 2013
It's difficult to pull off a Grandfather Paradox story, although many have tried. The paradox is often resolved by having the paradox-creating event give birth to a parallel universe, which strikes me as a copout. Kudos to Sean Ferrell for constructing an intricate time travel mystery thriller that puts a fresh spin on a familiar theme. I'm not sure Man in the Empty Suit resolves the paradox (although, to be fair, a true paradox is by definition irresolvable), but Ferrell uses it to advance an interesting, offbeat story.

Ferrell's version of Dr. Who's TARDIS is a raft that floats through time. Every year on his birthday, a time traveler attends a party on April 1, 2017 at the Boltzmann Hotel in a decayed, dystopian Manhattan. He is the only person in the ballroom, but since he does this as a tradition, there are many of him, one from each year in which he has made the birthday trek. He names his different selves -- Yellow, Seventy, the Nose, the Drunk, the Inventor -- although we never learn the traveler's true name. His younger selves ("the Youngsters") mock his older selves ("the Elders") although most of his selves of every age devote the evening to drunkenness. The alcohol fueled fuzz assures that the party will seem fresh every year.

The story begins on the traveler's 39th birthday. The party proceeds as expected until the next oldest version of the traveler dies in an elevator. The Elders don't understand the paradox of their continued life after their obvious death. They do understand that their memories are becoming unreliable. The 39-year-old traveler (known at that age as the Suit) is tasked with investigating.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Innovative, Intriguing, Yet Disappointing March 11, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Man In The Empty Suit" is a sometimes delightful and sometimes frustrating murder mystery and thriller predicated on time travel and the paradoxes and anomalies it encompasses. Our protagonist has used his time travel "raft" to visit exhaustively the times and places in the stream of history but masochistically elects to return to an old seedy hotel in Manhattan each year to celebrate his birthday surrounded by multiple iterations of himself at every age since his time travelling began. The unnamed protagonist remembers himself in the past and future by one-word names such as the Suit or 70 or Screwdriver or the Nose or the Body or The Drunk or Savior or Yellow et cetera.

However, during his visit on his 39th birthday, anomalies begin occurring, most notably the murder of the Suit (himself a year from now) and the appearance of a woman at his party for the first time ever. What is causing these anomalies that are beginning to "untether" him and others from the remembered stream of experience? He has one year to investigate the murder and its apparently concomitant anomaly in order to prevent its reoccurrence next year on his 40th birthday which would apparently destroy any future forms of himself. Whew!

As in most time travel sagas, small changes in the past can result in major time space differences. Time travel theory posits that if something, no matter how small, is changed in the will change dramatically how things evolve in the future with events spinning out of control and each individual affected suddenly feeling untethered.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Empty Man In The Suit. March 4, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The better title would be "The Empty Man In The Suit" -- not "The Man In The Empty Suit".

In what reviewers will surely call either a ripoff to, or homage to David Gerrold's "The Man Who Folded Himself", we get a time travel story about a man who goes to an annual cocktail party with hundreds of time-travelling versions of himself.

What we do NOT get: any description or discussion of time travel, or physics. We also do not get any discussion of history, historical periods, personages, or depth of narrative.

What we do get: A murder mystery -- who killed the Body, who kills Lily, which of the many versions of this man -- Yellow Sweater, Screwdriver, Seventy, the Suit.. which "untethered" the timeline of the many versions of this person. This is a mesmerizing mystery -- not. Not. See, I went back in time and changed that to a "not". Now, I am untethered from a positive review. Anything can now happen. Ooooh, scary!

The problem is that the main character, exposed to the exciting possibilities of time travel, which he somehow invented, is a bore, he is sleepy, whiny, unhappy, drunk, and not at all compelling. He does not seem to have any native intelligence, certainly not enough to understand human history, or invent a time machine.

So, when we read about him, we get bored with his whining. The problem is, his love story does not start until after about 150 pages -- in fact, we do not meet other characters that are not versions of himself until after page 150. By then, a reader has started to page along...

I suppose that some might think to find a compelling philosophical discursion on what it means to be a self, a person, in so many iterations. The author never quite gets there either.

I like the goal, not the execution. The first rule of writing science fiction should be plot, and the second rule should be character. Lacking either, the remainder is a sodden mess of a book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Great concept - needs more development
Interesting core concept, but there were so many things I wish the author would have gotten more in-depth with the details with - like how exactly the raft works, and why, if... Read more
Published 2 days ago by jessica
3.0 out of 5 stars "Man in the Empty Suit" isn't a bad read & for a time travel story...
Sean Ferrell's "Man in the Empty Suit" is a well intentioned book that goes astray for no apparent reason. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Paul L.
4.0 out of 5 stars Offer everything
I love time travel books and the premise of <b>Man in an Empty Suit</b> was too intriguing to pass by. Read more
Published 3 months ago by booknblueslady
1.0 out of 5 stars I'd give a middle schooler an 'F' for turning in something like this
One of the worst books I've ever read. If I could get a refund for a Kindle book, I would. I stuck with it through the end, but the book is profane, vulgar, and nihilistic in all... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael T. Jackson
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of your money
Absolutely boring and poorly done. Waste of your money
Published 8 months ago by Alan Haber
4.0 out of 5 stars A drama disguised as a comedy
No spoilers, but it starts out a bit silly and fun and wry, then gets rather dark and serious. I don't ding it for that, so much as that I'm still conflicted about how I feel about... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Travis Copeland
3.0 out of 5 stars great concept. lost in the details.
I was intrigued by the main story, but some of the supporting story lines were distracting and nonsensical. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Elizabeth Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind
I don't think there's ever been a time traveler like this one, or a book about time travel that can make your head spin like this one. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Sharon Barkin
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced and unique!
I was delighted by the premise of the book -- the idea that one could see the many iterations of oneself over the passage of time. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Wendy Russ
3.0 out of 5 stars 2.5 Stars
The description of the book sounded intriguing: a man returns to New York City every year to celebrate his birthday. Read more
Published 19 months ago by bonnie_blu
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