books, review

Book Review: How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe


Original Release Date:

September 7th 2010

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

4 stars



Official Summary:

National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award winner Charles 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.

Minor Universe 31 is a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction, where paradox fluctuates like the stock market, lonely sexbots beckon failed protagonists, and time travel is serious business. Every day, people get into time machines and try to do the one thing they should never do: change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician—part counselor, part gadget repair man—steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls or consoling his boss, Phil, who could really use an upgrade, Yu visits his mother (stuck in a one-hour cycle of time, she makes dinner over and over and over) and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and Ed, a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory. He learns that the key may be found in a book he got from his future self. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and he’s the author. And somewhere inside it is the information that could help him—in fact it may even save his life.

Wildly new and adventurous, Yu’s debut is certain to send shock waves of wonder through literary space–time.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

This is one of the few adult books I’ve read and enjoyed. I generally don’t like reading adult sic-fi, no matter how much I link sic-fi, because it always seems to delegate to science and interesting-ness to the second tier and keep action/fighting/war in the forefront.

This book doesn’t do that.

Its a great book, following Yu’s journey through space-time to find his dad who’s lost in time. Told in flashbacks, time travel and paradox unravelling.

Its marked down to 4 stars because the last few chapters are a bit confusing – but its meant to be. The science is all very realistic, with physics backing in the footnotes and everything and no mindless space wars but rather real universe building.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I loved the meta-ness of the book – we are reading the book in the book. Written by the narrator of the story who is the author of the book in the book.

If you like sic-fi, like that of John Scalzi (see my review of Redshirts) – then you’ll like this.



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