Grimwood’s Replay is such a classic.
Some science fiction novels or series just do not let their protagonists die, the protagonists enjoy or suffer from relative immortality and the story spans several thousand years telling the tale of changing society and technology. Other achieve basically the same by reincarnations or regeneration. Time goes on and on. The characters stay the same.
Grimwood does the opposite. Time repeats itself, again and again. It’s the protagonist that changes with each replay of his own life. Always dying at the same time, the same day in 1988, and then regaining consciousnesses in his own younger body to live his life again with the full knowledge of all his earlier experiences. Doing things differently, taking other paths than before he first seeks riches, then meaning, then happiness.
Grimwood achieves the perfect balance between detail and advancing the story. There is no razzle-dazzle, everything seems rather credible. Replay is thus an almost modest account of this afflicted man’s journey through life.
By withholding an explanation for the repeated replays Grimwood leaves the reader with one question: Why? Not getting an answer to this question may be disappointing for some. I think, however, it is a good choice.