Thursday, September 6, 2018

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

A man lives in a time machine and travels back and forth in his life. Or maybe he reminisces about some key points of his life. Or maybe he is trapped in a time loop. Or maybe he is in a padded cell in a mental hospital. Any (or all) of the above could have been possible during this book.

This is a mostly confusing book with a very fragmented narrative style with some meta-literary aspects, as the book itself was introduced inside the novel, but that didn’t work very well — nowhere near as well as the “meta-structure” in some other books; for example, in “The Raw Shark Texts”.

The ending made the book slightly better, but to read 200 pages for a payout of 25 pages? I even thought about abandoning the book. I hardly ever quit books, but I was pretty tempted to do so with this one. The back cover states that the book is “hilarious” and “funny and moving” and that the author’s “sense of humor… sets him apart”. I would claim that this is false advertising. I wasn’t able to see the hilariousness in a book where the protagonist is lost and at least slightly distressed most of the time. There was practically nothing funny or hilarious (well, the accounting software who didn’t know that he is just a program and who dated a spreadsheet was a little funny). The text was pretty heavy going at places; anything that demands sentences longer than one page could be told just as well with a shorter style. I was pretty disappointed, and didn’t get what I was expecting. The book might have worked as a novelette, but there wasn’t enough decent material for a full novel.

239 pp.

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