How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Charles Yu, Pantheon, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-307-37920-7
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.)
Reviewed on: 07/05/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 183 pages - 978-0-307-37948-1
Hardcover - 240 pages - 978-1-84887-680-4
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-1-84887-682-8
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-0-307-73945-2
Paperback - 314 pages - 978-4-15-335015-1
Open Ebook - 134 pages - 978-0-85789-353-6
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