After watching the great film what is Predestination about time travelling paradoxes, I decided to read the short story that inspired it, All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein. After reading it, I can see why it was made into a movie through it’s twist and unpredictability.
All You Zombies – Robert A. Heinlein
Having previously wrote By His Bootstraps, Heinlein again writes a time travelling paradox tale. In this tale, he tells the story about a man who creates his own existence and what he does to keep his own existence going, thus creating himself to be essentially immortal in the process. However, in a sad twist, it shows how immortality brings loneliness, as she is only wanted by him/her self. The girl Jane, who you find out will become The bartender, falls in love with herself but cannot act on it as she falls in love with herself from a different period so they can never be together. ‘ It’s a shock to have it proved to you that you can’t resist seducing yourself’. The book begins with the man who calls himself the the unmarried woman, telling the bartender about her origin, and how he can write from a female’s insight for his magazine, the story ending with how he was born a girl being the reason. During, the story she also declares she would kill the man who left her pregnant causing her to become a man, lose her job ambitions and believes this man to have snatched her baby away from her. The bartender then replies, he can show him this man and takes her through time to face this man, who seduced her and left her without warning. He also tells her that her name used to be Jane before she was a man. While she is in this period, he snatches her baby from the other period, and puts her on the orphanage step. He then returns to where he had took this woman and he has fallen in love with himself, Jane. However, they cannot be together and the bartender takes her away after he has assured his own existence, and leaves her with the time travelling agency he works for. The bartender then returns home to think about the life he has created for himself. ‘The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from—but where did all you zombies come from?’, thus that what his life is, the snake that eats it’s own tale. So much is packed into a short story. The title referring to the mindless job he has to do just be immortal.
The film expands on this idea’s and dramatises it more, through the use of the fizzle bomber, thus Jane/the bartender and John are also a terrorist they have to stop. The producers wanting to stick to the source material as closely as they could. Ethan Hawke playing the older versions of himself, while Sarah Snook puts in a great performance of her unmarried woman self as a woman transformed into a man. The use of the terrorist helps show why the person does not notice herself as she has her face completely reconstructed after the fizzle bomber disfigures his face. The agent also becomes the fizzle bomber in order to save countless lives rather than cause deaths of countless lives. The fizzle bomber also gives himself a choice to end it all by not killing him, however he chooses to kill him thus continuing the paradox forever. Along with this, there is more focus on the time travel company they work for. As it established at the end, the owner of the time travelling agency Mr. Robertson played by Noah Taylor, orchestrated the whole thing so he could create the perfect agent for his time travelling needs. Going into this film without knowing the major twist will lead you having to watch this film again and again just to make sure you’re understanding it right.
It is super confusing to explain, but this book and film are a must watch, and is something that will get your brain thinking throughout.