How to Live Safely in A Science Fictional Universe

How to Live Safely in A Science Fictional Universe

Book - 2010
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Charles Yu, time travel technician, helps save people from themselves in Minor Universe 31, a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction. When he's not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog named Ed, and using a book titled "How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe" as his guide, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307379207
0307379205
Branch Call Number: SF/Fantasy Yu*
Characteristics: 239 p. : ill. ; 22 cm

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SCL_Justin Jul 23, 2017

I loved How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu so much. It’s a story about a time machine repair guy named Charles Yu who’s been living safely off in a null-zone where time doesn’t really pass, thinking about his father who disappeared, the inability to change the past, the trajectory of a life and closed time-like loops. But really it’s about loneliness and memory.

It’s a quiet book, introspective. I think I’d thought it would be funnier, but instead it was just beautiful. Also a good crossover book for people who like literature and aren’t necessarily interested in “science fiction.” There’s lots of stuff tossed in there in technical language, that’s cryptic but decipherable. It encourages study and reading slowly, really settling into the book (which is not long at all).

Definitely one of my new favourites.

h
humbleworm
Apr 05, 2017

I almost stopped reading this book, which is more about Dali-esque armchair psychology than time travel or a "science fictional universe" (I was expecting something lIke the Harold Shea series). The protagonist has spent a decade in limbo (reminded me of "The Very Slow Time Machine") then returns to the present for a single day before entering a self-imposed time loop in which he reveals his own back story as a 3rd-person observer. The eventually-predictable plot is minimal but cloaked in artistic distractions. If you can get past the 1st half of the book it gets a bit better but don't believe the hype.

KindianaJones Dec 16, 2014

I picked up the book solely based on its title and was not disappointed. The book was playful, nostalgic, and interesting.

e
ErnieK
Oct 11, 2012

I hate to say something this glib about this book, but it is Proust in the Tardis. A great book about memory and regret, presented in a science fictional manual. It was a fast and furious read, and a reread right afterwards.

s
SFCohen
Jun 23, 2012

Maybe I'm not the target audience for this book. It just didn't grab me. Part sweet and part quirky, but it didn't really work for me.

r
rowembr
Nov 06, 2011

I thought this book was lovely and interesting. I'm not a fan of non-linear narratives usually, but you kind of have to be flexible when reading about time travel. Wistful, smart, and funny!

m
MDianeRogers
Aug 26, 2011

A good read. Quirky, sometimes sad but hopeful. The kind of book I like!

wwgg Apr 09, 2011

NYT 100 Notable Books of 2010

c
casst
Jan 31, 2011

read review in The Times

gwsuperfan Oct 20, 2010

A truly original piece of Science Fiction, How to Live Safely in A Science Fictional Universe revolves around an author stuck in a time loop of his own creation. The environment of the novel is surreal, reading at times like a conversation that someone is having with himself after sitting stoned in a room for a month reading physics and philosophy. Fans of Neal Stephenson's earlier novels (The Big U, Snow Crash, and The Diamond Age) will love this book.

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ndp21f
Sep 25, 2011

Hitting the peak of your life's trajectory is not the painful part. The painful day comes earlier, comes before things start going downhill, comes when things are still good, still pretty good, still just fine. It comes when you think you are still on your way up, but you can feel that the velocity isn't there anymore, the push behind you is gone, it's all inertia from here, it's all coasting, it's all momentum, and there will be more, there will be higher days, but for the first time, it's all in sight. The top. The best day of your life. There it is. Not as high as you thought it was going to be, and earlier in your life, and also closer to where you are now, startling in its closeness. That there's a ceiling to this, there's a cap, there's a best-case scenario and you are living it right now.

n
ndp21f
Sep 25, 2011

[. . .] and somehow, even though I already know what is going to happen, I can't help feeling excited, I can see that my dad is feeling the same thing, too. If a lifetime in the end is remembered for a handful of days, this is one of them. This is a day when my father is everything he has always wanted to be. Everything I have always wanted him to be. Everything he normally isn't. But maybe this is who he really is, maybe we go through life never actually being ourselves. Maybe we spend most of our decades being someone else, avoiding ourselves, maybe a man is only himself, his true self, for a few days in his entire life.

n
ndp21f
Sep 25, 2011

But the reason I have job security is that people have no idea how to make themselves happy. Even with a time machine. I have job security because what the customer wants, when you get right down to it, is to relive his very worse moment, over and over and over again.

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humbleworm
Apr 24, 2017

humbleworm thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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