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Me, Myself and I: 12/04/09
I chose to read Me, Myself and I by Jane Louise Curry based on the strength of The Egyptian Box. The Egyptian Box is a tightly written horror written for middle grade readers. Me, Myself and I is a young adult science fiction. The time travel plot had potential and the blurb had me eager to start reading but I ended up having to struggle to finish it.
The best way to describe Me Myself and I is to call it the light version of The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold (1973). Being a young adult novel it lacks the odd sexual explorations of Gerrold's book but the basic idea of a man mentoring and working with copies of himself due to time travel is the same.
J.J. Russell, boy genius and graduate student in engineering (or something similar) is having the worst day of his life. A rival has developed a similar but possibly better chip and he discovers that his girlfriend of four years is dumping him for the rival. When he decides to bury himself in research he discovers his advisor's secret project: a time machine that allows J.J. the chance to travel back in time and fix his future while stopping some research espionage. He ends up working with his twelve and eight year old selves. Can they together stop the rival and win the girl's heart for good?
This time travel romantic comedy and mystery has a university setting somewhere in the south bay. From clues dropped during the novel the university is probably based on Stanford but I don't recall it ever being given a name. I liked the choice of location over the more typical choice of either Caltech or MIT.
The present day for J.J. is concurrent with the book's publishing (1987). The choice to make it contemporary contributes to the novel's weakest point, namely, the description of the technology. The biggest gaff has to be Curry's description of J.J. and the other students of Professor Poplov doing their college level programming in BASIC. Sure, the book is aimed at kids but I think even back in 1987 the computer geek kids who would have been drawn to this book would have scoffed at a described genius using BASIC. There were more robust languages available. I asked my husband and he named better possibilities: C, FORTRAN, FORTH, Prolog or Common LISP but definitely not BASIC.