Monday, January 24, 2011

Review: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Yu,Charles. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. New York: Pantheon, 2010.

Charles Yu concocts a funny and sad metafictional diversion that explores the meaning of time and memory. Like Mark Leyner, Yu is his own protagonist; he's a time-machine technician who lives in a device that allows him to float above and around time; in nine years of his body clock, he's advanced maybe a week in his own particular universe (31). Yu lays on the science-fictional contortions and time-travel twists (as in Hitchhiker's Guide, time travel is a matter of grammar, with the rub that you can't change anything) as Yu confronts his past and himself along with his faithful though unreal dog, Ed, and TAMMY, a well-meaning Microsoft interface. Is this an SF novel? In the broadest sense, yes, but it has more to do with Derrida (time is a text that you create and read at the same time) than Tim Powers or Jack Finney.

Fulfills: 2011 Support Your Library Challenge

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