Book Review: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
August 14, 2012 27 Comments
I love to read science fiction every now and then. Especially time travel has my interest. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe is about a time machine repair man. It sounded quirky and good fun, but I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: What it is about
From the publisher’s website: “With only TAMMY – a slightly tearful computer with self-esteem issues – a software boss called Phil – Microsoft Middle Manager 3.0 – and an imaginary dog called Ed for company, fixing time machines is a lonely business and Charles Yu is stuck in a rut. He’s spent the better part of a decade navel-gazing, spying on 39 different versions of himself in alternate universes (and discovered that 35 of them are total jerks). And he’s kind of fallen in love with TAMMY, which is bad because she doesn’t have a module for that.
With all that’s on his mind, perhaps it’s no surprise that when he meets his future self, he shoots him in the stomach. And that’s a beginner’s mistake for a time machine repairman. Now he’s stuck in a time loop, going in circles forever. All he has, wrapped in brown paper, is the book his future self was trying to press into his hands. 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 save him.”
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: What I thought
What I like about time travel, is exploring different times, the author’s ingenuity of predicting the future or of giving an apparently accurate account of what the past is like to live in for a modern person.
In this book, there is nothing like that because Charles Yu is stuck in time. He lives in his time machine, which is rather small, think Tardis without the expansion inside. This situation turned out to be rather too limited for me.
Some of it went over my head and roughly the first half of the book wasn’t all that exciting. When it got to the book that Charles got from his future self, it became a bit more interesting. Especially the search for his father (and where he found his father) was quite clever.
The book is all about Charles Yu and his thoughts. Very little actually happens. You have to be a pretty geeky person to enjoy this book, I think. I tried, went into it expecting to enjoy it (I’m half-geek, half non-geek) but the book never really grabbed me.
Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
Number of pages: 244
First published: 2010
I got this book: from Bookmooch, a book swap site
Genre: science fiction
Have you read this book?
Did you enjoy it?