How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
Published by Pantheon (2010)
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. (GoodReads)
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Not so long ago in a galaxy quite close by, and in a time where books were plenty, there was a reader whom very much enjoyed science fiction (sci-fi). Now, this reader realized her reading lacked galactic adventures and to remedy this she decided to take a trip amongst the stars with only the book How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu as company. This trip did not go exactly as planned.
I can understand why people like it, but it probably was not the best place for me to take off at on my sci-fi adventure. It was really not my cup of tea or the launch pad was faulty. I admit that I really enjoyed the first fifty pages or so, yet then I feel it just kind of stops – stuck in the vastness of space. A lot of the writing felt repetitive and not to mention how much the word box was used drove me a bit insane. Which, I did just mention. I ended up feeling like I was also stuck in a time machine – stranded at the same point in time for eternity. The ending (for me) also felt a bit unsatisfactory as if the novel lost it’s focus. Even the sci-fi elements sometimes felt unnecessary.
I would not say this is a bad novel, because it’s not. I can see people enjoying How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, but I did not. Perhaps if I had more of a background in sci-fi I may have been able to enjoy and appreciate it more? That is why I would not necessarily recommend it to people who have read little to no sci-fi before reading this. . I would, however, recommend it to anyone who likes to read the inner-monologue of one character and doesn’t mind a sometimes repetitive feel.