How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
Publication Date: September, 2010
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 256 pp
Genre: Fiction/Science Fiction
(Received for review from Pantheon)
Synopsis (courtesy of Barnes & Noble):
National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award winner Charles Yu delivers his debut novel, a razor-sharp, ridiculously funny, and utterly touching story of a son searching for his father... through quantum space-time.
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 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 nonexistent 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 in memory. He learns that the key may be found in a book he got from his future self. It's called, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and he's the author. And somewhere inside it is the information that could help him - in fact it may even save his life.
Wildly new and adventurous, Yu's debut is certain to send shock waves of wonder through literary space-time.
Ohhh where to begin with this one. I had a really difficult time deciding what to put down for the genre of this book. It's clearly science fiction, but then again it's not. It is definitely Fantasy, but then again it's not. It's really hard to describe. It's very comedic, but sometimes it's sad. What is really is, is masterpiece of words. I pride myself on having a relatively large vocabulary. I don't very often come across too many words that I don't know the meaning of, but with this book there were actually a couple I had to look up, LOL... but that wasn't a bad thing.
Charles Yu has created a book that is so far outside the box that it will have readers looking around trying to find the darn box... The main character of the book, aptly named Charles Yu is a sort of loser to some extent. He has a dead end job as time technician, fixing the mistakes people make when they go back in time and try to change things. But, he doesn't have any real friends, except for an operating system, he has a crush on, a hypothetical dog, and boss that thinks he's human, but he's most definitely not. His mother is caught in limbo and his father is missing somewhere in time and on top of all that he meets his future self and manages to shot him. That's right he shots himself, but he's not yet himself, he's his future self... savvy?
This book is so full of twists and turns, you really have to concentrate on it and read it at a slower pace than you might read most books. But, once you get engrossed in it, that doesn't seem to be a problem. Charles Yu's writing style is engaging and full of tidbits of wisdom about life. It's a heart warming story about a boy who just wants to find his father. But, then again it's not...LOL! I know, I know sounds weird and hard to follow but it's totally not... it all falls together as Charles (the character) gets a book from his future self, written by his future self, that will somehow help him find his father and his future self.
Science fiction fans are going to flip over this one and those of you like me, who have very analytical minds will love it as well. This one was certainly outside my comfort zone, but it managed to make more comfortable with each page. A brilliant debut novel, by a writer I'm sure we will be hearing more from, or then again maybe we won't... I think! (wink)
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Here is some additional information about Charles Yu.
Charles Yu received the National Book Foundation 5 under 35 Award for his short story collection, Third Class Superhero, and he also received the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. His work has been in The Harvard Review, The Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review and Mid-American review, among other journals. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Michelle and their two children.