From the National Book Award–winning author of Interior Chinatown, comes a razor-sharp, hilarious, and touching story of a son searching for his father . . . through quantum space-time.
Every day in Minor Universe 31 people get into time machines and try to change the past. That's where Charles Yu, time travel technician, steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he's not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. The key to locating his father may be found in a book. It's called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and somewhere inside it is information that will help him. It may even save his life.
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.
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Not Your Average Time Travel Tale
A time traveler story set in hard fiction. Though confusing and sometimes difficult to follow, even with the notes on quantum physics accompanying the book, How to Life Safely in a Science Fiction Universe has a humorous story about the relationship between fathers and sons to tell at the center of it all. A quick read that some will enjoy, but that also asks readers to participate in its set reality.
This is a great story that you seldom see in today's books. Anyone who is searching for something should read this wonderful book.