How to live safely in a science fictional universe : a novel / Charles Yu.

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  • Author(s): Yu, Charles, 1976-
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  • Publication Information:
    New York : Pantheon Books, 2010.
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    • Abstract:
      Summary: In a world transformed by time-travel technology, counselor Charles Yu searches for the father who invented time travel and vanished, a quest marked by quirky pseudo-companions.
    • ISBN:
      9780307379207 : HRD
      0307379205 : HRD
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Booklist Reviews 2010 August #1

The eponymous lonely-guy narrator in Yu’s debut novel is a time-machine repairman working in the slightly damaged Minor Universe 31, where people can time-travel for recreational purposesâ€"or, Charles muses, is it re-creational purposes, given our desire to rewrite history? Charles dwells in a small module with TAMMY, a cute but insecure operating system, and Ed the dog, who is good company even though he’s a “weird ontological entity” rather than a flesh-and-blood animal. Woebegone Charles has never gotten over the disappearance of his father, a thwarted time-travel pioneer. With Star Wars allusions, glimpses of a future world, and journeys to the past, as well as hilarious and poignant explanations of “chronodiegetics,” or the “theory of the nature and function of time within a narrative space,” Yu, winner of the National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35 Award, constructs a clever, fluently metaphorical tale. A funny, brain-teasing, and wise take on archetypal father-and-son issues, the mysteries of time and memory, emotional inertia, and one sweet but bumbling misfit’s attempts to escape a legacy of sadness and isolation. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2010 April #2

At a massive story-space called Minor Universe 31, people get into their time machines and try to change the past. A time traveler technician named Charles Yu must step in to right things-with the help of a guidebook called How To Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe. Okay, not your standard sf. But Yu, who received the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 Award on the strength of one story collection-this is his debut novel-would seem to be a writer to watch. With a five-city tour. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

LJ Reviews 2010 October #1

Although the title suggests comfortable living in space, Yu leads the reader to an uncomfortable space on Earth, as his debut novel's narrative is quite experimental. In between many chapters, Yu inserts explanations of specific terms, using his fictional world to reflect upon reality and life's experiences. In the middle of the novel, he even pauses and becomes self-conscious about his creative process when writing, reading, and editing the text. In typical Brechtian fashion, he distances the reader from the story to induce contemplation of the issues the text may inspire. The deceptively simple plot can be told in one sentence: a time-travel-machine repairman wants to locate his missing father before his past catches up to him and shoots him dead. Our anxieties and fears are heightened as the protagonist's past gets ever closer. That the protagonist's father devoted his life to creating a time-travel machine allows us to ponder the dilemma of a brilliant person trapped in the role of a family man. VERDICT Fans of Ursula K. Le Guin and "social science fiction," as well as readers of an adventurous nature, will enjoy this book, which has the potential to become a cult classic.—Victor Or, Surrey P.L. & North Vancouver City Lib., B.C.

[Page 70]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

PW Reviews 2010 July #1

Yu uses futuristic ideas to explore a mundane theme: writing about the self and the moment in Tristram Shandy–esque digressions. The protagonist, who shares the author's name, spends most of the story interacting with entities that either mirror him (TAMMY, an operating system who reflects his personality) or don't exist (Ed, a "weird ontological entity" in the shape of a dog; Phil, a programmed supervisor who thinks he's human). The conclusion tries to mitigate character-Yu's risk-averse solipsism, but is too quick and abstract to really counter the rest of the book's emotional weight. Mainstream readers will be baffled by the highly nonlinear Oedipal time travel plot, but the passive, self-obsessed protagonist is straight out of the mainstream fiction that many SF fans love to hate, leaving this book without an audience. (Sept.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.