jennynelson, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by jennynelson)
This is quite possibly my favorite book of the last year. Entertaining and thought-provoking, it doesn't fall into the "all clever ideas and no story" trap that so many highly conceptual books fall into. There is a real, beating heart powering the science in this book.
eurogamegirl, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by eurogamegirl)
You start off reading this, thinking that it will be a funny, quirky science fiction book. And it is. But you gradually realize that he's also writing on a deeper level. It's a book about time travel, here and now.
Denise Morland, November 7, 2010 (view all comments by Denise Morland)
In Minor Universe 31 there is one cardinal rule - you can't change the past and trying will only cause trouble. Yet everyday people climb in time machines and go back to undo the wrongs in their past. That's where Charles Yu comes in. He's a time travel repairman and he spends his days rescuing all the hapless time travelers from themselves. His sidekicks are TAMMY, his machine's operating system and Ed, a nonexistent dog. The only problem is Charles, himself, is stuck in the past, brooding on his distant and missing inventor father and his unhappy mother.
It is interesting to see the wide range of feelings this novel has produced!I'll start by admitting that I am not normally a sci-fi reader, so I was looking for an entertaining novel, not good sci-fi. I was definitely entertained! To begin with the book is written in long, drawn-out, run on sentences and is full of time-travel, science fiction jargon. It took me awhile to get into the rhythm, but before long I relaxed into it and the story seemed to flow easily. The plot felt unique and interesting, the characters likable and well rounded, and the problems they deal with real world and timely. Who doesn't have something they'd like to change about their past? A day they wish they could live differently? Ultimately Yu uses his original and funny protagonist of a time-travel machine repairman to address some serious issues - father/son relationships, living in the past, and failure - yet the book remains light and entertaining throughout. A great debut novel, I'll be watching to see what he does next!
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
by Audrey Niffenegger, author of Her Fearful Symmetry and The Time Traveler's Wife,
"Charles Yu is a tremendously clever writer, and How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe is marvelously written, sweetly geeky, good clean time-bending fun."
by Colson Whitehead, author of Sag Harbor,
"This book is cool as hell. If I could go back in time and read it earlier, I would."
"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."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"A fascinating, philosophical and disorienting thriller about life and the context that gives it meaning."
National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award-winner 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.
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