"I loved this awesome book. It's a word-lover's feast! It blew my mind, literally. I'm a literature person, not a science person at all, but that didn't matter much. I did Google a few words, but mostly I figured out things in context. My vocabulary is definitely larger. That's always a plus when reading a fabulous book: it takes you to places you've never been. And that's an understatement with this spectacular little tome.
The story is lyrical, exciting, surprising, elegant, funny, sad and ultimately, wise. It's a masterpiece of imagination that demands to be read with an open mind because the lines between past, present and future often blur or completely disappear. I found myself in an unexplored literary landscape marveling at the words on my skin and the exotic language piercing my heart. I underlined most of the book, but one of my favorite lines is on page 86: "After a night out in the lost half city, you end up with dust of dead robots in your hair, or someone's dreams, or their nightmares."
This is the story of Charles Yu who lives in Minor Universe 31, a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction. And yes, paradox fluctuates like the stock market, as the back cover states. I laughed out loud on page 13 at the reference to 'Linus Skywalker' son of Luke who has father issues: "You have no idea what it's like, man. To grow up with the freaking savior of the universe as your dad." The author's sharp wit, sarcasm and sense of humor are worth the price of the book.
Charles Yu is a time travel technician. The main issue with time travel is that everyone wants to do the one thing they can't and shouldn't do: change the past. Therein lies Mr. Yu's job security. But the larger story is his relationship with and search for his father, who invented time travel, then disappeared. The father/son relationship is the beating heart of the beautiful story.
Wildly Kafkaesque one moment, then comic sci-fi the next, "How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe" is peppered with witty tongue-in-cheek sarcasm from TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and hilarious one-liners from lonely sexbots. What is real and what is not is for you to figure out.
Mr. Yu is a startling new voice in this undefineable genre. When I finished the book, I realized it was a prayer to language and the power and glory of living in the present moment and not letting your one precious life pass you by. I'll be reading this book over and over. It's that good."
"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? ...we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." ~Kafka
"These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice... and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart." ~Gilbert Highet
"Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled "This could change your life." ~Helen Exley