How to Live Safely in A Science Fictional Universe

How to Live Safely in A Science Fictional Universe

Book - 2010 | 1st ed.
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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.

Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2010.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307379207
Characteristics: 239 p. ; 22 cm.


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MickWF Apr 07, 2020

I’ve read this book several times and each time I get something new out of it. It’s funny, imaginative, and incredibly emotional. Yu has a knack for blending introspective narrative, scientific philosophy and pop-culture in a way no one else has been able to.

SCL_Justin Jul 23, 2017

I loved How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu so much. It’s a story about a time machine repair guy named Charles Yu who’s been living safely off in a null-zone where time doesn’t really pass, thinking about his father who disappeared, the inability to change the past, the trajectory of a life and closed time-like loops. But really it’s about loneliness and memory.

It’s a quiet book, introspective. I think I’d thought it would be funnier, but instead it was just beautiful. Also a good crossover book for people who like literature and aren’t necessarily interested in “science fiction.” There’s lots of stuff tossed in there in technical language, that’s cryptic but decipherable. It encourages study and reading slowly, really settling into the book (which is not long at all).

Definitely one of my new favourites.

Apr 05, 2017

I almost stopped reading this book, which is more about Dali-esque armchair psychology than time travel or a "science fictional universe" (I was expecting something lIke the Harold Shea series). The protagonist has spent a decade in limbo (reminded me of "The Very Slow Time Machine") then returns to the present for a single day before entering a self-imposed time loop in which he reveals his own back story as a 3rd-person observer. The eventually-predictable plot is minimal but cloaked in artistic distractions. If you can get past the 1st half of the book it gets a bit better but don't believe the hype.

KindianaJones Dec 16, 2014

I picked up the book solely based on its title and was not disappointed. The book was playful, nostalgic, and interesting.

Oct 11, 2012

I hate to say something this glib about this book, but it is Proust in the Tardis. A great book about memory and regret, presented in a science fictional manual. It was a fast and furious read, and a reread right afterwards.

Jun 23, 2012

Maybe I'm not the target audience for this book. It just didn't grab me. Part sweet and part quirky, but it didn't really work for me.

Nov 06, 2011

I thought this book was lovely and interesting. I'm not a fan of non-linear narratives usually, but you kind of have to be flexible when reading about time travel. Wistful, smart, and funny!

Aug 26, 2011

A good read. Quirky, sometimes sad but hopeful. The kind of book I like!

wwgg Apr 09, 2011

NYT 100 Notable Books of 2010

Jan 31, 2011

read review in The Times

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Sep 25, 2011

Hitting the peak of your life's trajectory is not the painful part. The painful day comes earlier, comes before things start going downhill, comes when things are still good, still pretty good, still just fine. It comes when you think you are still on your way up, but you can feel that the velocity isn't there anymore, the push behind you is gone, it's all inertia from here, it's all coasting, it's all momentum, and there will be more, there will be higher days, but for the first time, it's all in sight. The top. The best day of your life. There it is. Not as high as you thought it was going to be, and earlier in your life, and also closer to where you are now, startling in its closeness. That there's a ceiling to this, there's a cap, there's a best-case scenario and you are living it right now.

Sep 25, 2011

[. . .] and somehow, even though I already know what is going to happen, I can't help feeling excited, I can see that my dad is feeling the same thing, too. If a lifetime in the end is remembered for a handful of days, this is one of them. This is a day when my father is everything he has always wanted to be. Everything I have always wanted him to be. Everything he normally isn't. But maybe this is who he really is, maybe we go through life never actually being ourselves. Maybe we spend most of our decades being someone else, avoiding ourselves, maybe a man is only himself, his true self, for a few days in his entire life.

Sep 25, 2011

But the reason I have job security is that people have no idea how to make themselves happy. Even with a time machine. I have job security because what the customer wants, when you get right down to it, is to relive his very worse moment, over and over and over again.


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Apr 24, 2017

humbleworm thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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