Sunday, April 10, 2011

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

Synopsis: Minor Universe 31 is a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction, where paradox fluctuates like the stock market.....and every day people get into recreational time machines and try to do the one thing they should never do: change the past. That's where Charles Yu, time travel technician--part counselor, part gadget repair man--steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he's not taking client calls or consoling his boss, Phil, who could really use an upgrade, Yu visits his mother (stuck in a one-hour cycle of time--she makes dinner over and over and over) and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and Ed, a non existent, but ontologically valid dog, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet

Wow. It's not often that I finish a book and just don't know what to say. I love it. I hate it. It's crazy and confusing and wildly funny in places. It is also touching and poignant. There is a massive amount of time travel and science fictional techno-babble to wade through. It pushes the limits of the suspension of disbelief, but does it in a way that makes you believe. It's about memory and relationships and how there are so many incidents in life that we wish we could change. If only we had a time machine.....But we can't. It's about learning to live with the knowledge that there are some things that we just can't change. And maybe that's a good thing. It's also about relationships with those we love and how we should do the things we're just a little bit afraid to do. Because one day we might look back and regret that we never did.

I read this book primarily for the Take a Chance #3 Challenge. This one was for the Book Bloggers Choice entry and I found the book highly recommended in the "Best of 2010" on The Book Lady's Blog. One of the blurbs compares it to Douglas Adams. I don't think I agree with that. I think Yu owes something to Adams (TAMMY is reminiscent of Marvin in the Hitchhiker's Guide), but I would not put them on the same level. I think Adams wrote with an ease that Yu has yet to achieve. That said, the book is good and I'm glad I read it. I just wish I could figure out what kind of rating to give it. Maybe my future self will know.


Grace at Feeding My Book Addiction said...

Great review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it was a good story told in an intriguing way and because it wasn't so cut and dry. Like you said, you loved it and you hated it. This is one of those books that really makes you think, which is why I think it is such a good read. Thanks for posting!

Grace @

theoncominghope said...

I really tried to get into the book, but ultimately found it a little too obtuse for my liking.

Here are my thoughts, if you're interested: