Here's my haul this week:
How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe by Charles Yu: Minor Universe 31 is a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction, where paradox fluctuates like the stock market, lonely sexbots beckon failed protagonists, and time-travel is serious business. Every day, people get into 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, Yu visits his mother (stuck in a onehour cycle, 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 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.
With echoes of both Mark Danielewski and Douglas Adams, yet altogether wildly new and adventurous, Yu’s debut is certain to send shock waves of wonder through literary space-time. - (Random House, Inc.)
Burial Deferred by Jonathan Ross: "Mad, bad, and bloody-minded" is how Detective Superintendent George Rogers describes himself to his second-in-command when he wakes up in a hospital bed with a throbbing head and no memory of the events of the previous evening. He is soon up and about again, his inquiries leading him to a baroque Victorian house atop a steep cliff overlooking the sea. There he meets Phaedra Haggar, a serene but passionate blind woman, and her paying guests. The discovery of a shallow but empty grave, the recovery of a girl's body from the sea, and the disappearance of a male guest from the house begin a hunt for a murderer--a search that involves Rogers in an emotional entanglement that threatens to upset his professional investigation.
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux: The well-known story of the disfigured composer who lives in the labyrinthine depths of the Paris Opera and his obsession with the singer Christine Daae. The Phantom strikes again and again, targeting foes from a jealous diva to a romantic rival.
I have seen the film with Lon Chaney and the film version of the musical. I thought it about time that I actually read the book they are based on.
Plus Leftover Loot (and my current read):
Ten Little Herrings by L. C. Tyler: (2nd installment in a series) When we last saw Ethelred Tressider, he was pulling a disappearing act, eager to pack in his career as a mediocre mystery-writer, and happy to leave his (deservedly) long-suffering agent, Elsie, holding the bag. But any bag that Elsie holds will soon be brimful of chocolates, and as Ten Little Herrings opens, she is tracking Ethelred to his secret lair, which turns out to be a run-down French hotel hosting a stamp-collector's conference. A murder (quelle surprise!) ensues, and as the title (a nod to Agatha Christie's famous Ten Little Indians) suggests, the whole thing turns into a blissfully funny parody of classic British crime fiction.