Book Review #6: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (2010)

Title: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
Author: Charles Yu
Published: 2010 (Pantheon Books, Random House Inc., New York)
Pages: 234
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Post-Modern Lit
Link Here

This book was literally a “trip” to read. I also haven’t come across such an explanation of time travel like in Charles Yu’s novel. The book functions as a ‘guide’ to time travel narrated by the main character, Charles Yu. The narration and guide style reminds me of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (But lonelier, and way less perilous).

Yu’s novel details the backstory of a complicated father-son relationship, a lonely time machine mechanic with his inhuman but supporting companions, and more importantly, the laws and physics of time travel. Are these the real laws of time travel? Probably not, but the basic theory seems sound. It’s fiction, and some of the terminology contains notes of satire.

Some of the themes include the acuity of failure, life changes, the significance of memory, and trying to change the inevitable future (because of course, time travel). Overall, I enjoyed this book, and time traveling novels are not my usual go-to when it comes to sci-fi novels. But if you’re looking for a novel about time travel and a clear understanding about it, this is the book for you. But don’t take it too seriously, it is just theory after all. Or is it…?

I thought about diving into Yu’s explanation of time travel, but…. unfortunately I don’t have enough time. I have more books to read before they’re due at the library, and unfortunately some of the books I check out I cannot renew. Late fees are NO joke. No one should ask how much I owe the library in late fees.

I give this book a 3 out of 5!


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