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Self-Reference ENGINE
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Self-Reference ENGINE

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  125 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Toh EnJoe’s prize-winning fiction is well-known in Japan for crossing the streams—from hardcore science fiction to bizarre surrealism—and has found an audience across the genre divide. Self-Reference ENGINE is a puzzle of a book, where vignette and story and philosophy combine to create a novel designed like a concept album.
Paperback, 341 pages
Published March 19th 2013 by Haikasoru (first published January 1st 2007)
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Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: giant corpora of knowledge, sentient bobby socks, girls with a bullet towards the future
This is the sort of the book that will either blow your mind or leave you confused and annoyed. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category.

Self-Reference ENGINE is "not a novel, not an anthology; it is a SELF-REFERENCE ENGINE." What it is is very weird science fiction surrealism, with a thin thread of - I won't call it a plot, more like a theme or some common ideas - running through disjointed chapters that sometimes refer to one another and sometimes seem dropped in at random from some othe
Kyle Muntz
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Maybe not the best, but the most interesting book I've read in 2013, and a milestone for high-concept SF, especially in translation.

Full review at Mixer Publishing:
Richard Stuart
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Division of fractions; escape by eraser; befuddlement of symbiotic intelligences; this book romps through the broken shards of time/space which have been fractured irrevocably by the 'Event'. A warped imagination underpins this mathematical fairy tale and creates delightful rabbit holes to stumble down into.

An alternative narrative, loosely based on many different characters works admirably because of the unusual setting: a universe that has been shattered into countless other universes of vari
Austin Williams
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, philosophy
"The genre of ideas."
How often have we heard science fiction, fantasy, &c. described as such? Isn't that the great justification for volunteering ourselves to the genre ghetto, for ignoring the Booker Prize winners and Nobel Laureates to focus on the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winners instead?
But it's frustrating; for all this talk about science fiction being a genre of ideas, there don't seem to be a whole lot of ideas going around.
Enter Toh EnJoe. A physicist. A novelist. And not
William Mansky
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
There are certain lines of reasoning that, if you've spent much time around logic, abstract mathematics, or theoretical computer science, seem both entirely reasonable and entirely absurd. Toh EnJoe (a pen name, if you're wondering) has written an entire book out of these, a collection of 20 or so linked (and multiply-linked, if we are to believe the story-graph at the beginning of the book) short stories that tell the story of a world in which something very strange has happened to the nature o ...more
Daniel Hope
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wow, this is a book that demands a lot from the reader. But there are some rewards for sticking with it. It's not a traditional narrative, at all. It's more like a series of short stories that have a narrative connection. It's quite a mindbender, and it's not like anything you've read before.

If you want straight character and plot, this is not the right book. However, if you want strange and new ideas, this is a masterpiece. The author clearly knows his science and infuses each chapter with inte
Kallen Kentner
The stories in this experimental sci-fi book may include talking socks, disappearing text on a catfish statue, an inexplicable joystick, and no less than 22 inert Freuds (Sigmund… how ever did Grandma collect so many of him?).

If that paragraph made you think, oh this is full of non-sequitors like Hitchhikers, and I love Hitchhikers, just stop. This book is sometimes poignant, existential, thought-provoking and above all, rigorous. My brain is exhausted.

Read the full review on GeekyLibrary.
Tantra Bensko
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in March 2014 and the experienced stopped me in my tracks at Goodreads as I wasn't ready to write a review for it yet and I kept postponing. I wanted it to be a thorough review, because it's such a fantastic book. I've recommended it widely to people, especially if they're interested in innovative SF that experiments with form, is something unique. So, I'm going to let go of my great review plans and just say -- it's absolutely fantastic. People should really read this one, if a ...more
Michael Hanscom
I really enjoyed this one -- as it "warns" in its cover blurb, it's neither a novel with a straightforward narrative, nor an anthology of self-contained short stories. It's more of a series of interconnected vignettes set at various points following some kind of event that shattered time and space, and often involving powerful AIs. Not easy to describe, but just the kind of experimental weirdness that works well for me, and a lot of really neat concepts dealing with time, artificial intelligence ...more
Feb 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Le daría 3,5 estrellas. Esperaba una prosa mucho más elaborada, eso me ha desilusionado un poco, pero en líneas genrales me ha gustado. No me atrevería a recomendarlo: no es un libro para todo el mundo, ni siquiera para todos los fans de CF. Recoge veinte historias muy desiguales: hay CF hard, relatos absurdos, surrealismo, y Weird doméstico… Apto para el que busque un texto que se salga de los cánones, y que explore conceptos filosóficos, culturales y científicos.
Rich Boulton
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fascinating read. It's definitely a single narrative despite the common propensity to compare it to a collection of short stories, it's just not a simple, linear narrative. Essentially it takes a bunch of difficult ideas such as altering the past and forgoes the usual arbitrary rules and omissions that writers make so that they can tell a single, clear story.
Ian Mond
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not really a novel, not really a short story collection, but something in between. A mosaic novel, maybe? It doesn't really matter, the point is that Self Reference Engine is this heady mix of hard SF and surrealism. It takes the notion of the multiverse and pokes and prods at it until the very concept becomes both unremarkable and nonsensical. Its also very funny.
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: japanese
Peaks of quality
Sunk in inconsistency -
Unique nonetheless.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very different kind of book. Completely non linear and fragmented. It is kind of surreal. So you don't know what is real, what is imagined. There is a main thread of the paradoxes of going back in time and altering events. That is the self reference. Every chapter seems like an independent vignette and it kind of ties in at the end. At a broad level, it is the story of war between humans and computers. But then you are not really sure who is fighting who. The book is quite philosophical in a m ...more
The Great Dan Marino
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
A mindfuck, no doubt. Does need to be considered as a whole, as (IMO) a novel about the giant corpora of knowledge, though some of the chapters read as great short stories (others don't). A lotta concepts here require a ton of exposition, and it's incredibly difficult for him to do that expository work while remaining narratively satisfying. Still, mostly he does (bogs down a little in the final quarter). Won't even pretend to firmly grasp the novel, the timelines, the tech etc, but could see+en ...more
Rod Van Meter
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have few words to describe how good this book is. I have fewer still to describe *what* it is.

What it is, is mind-bending. It's one those books where, when you get deeply involved in the book, you have reorient yourself to the real world when you take your eyes off of it. You would not be at all surprised, when you look up, to find that History, technology, and perhaps even the laws of physics had changed while you weren't looking.

And Terry Gallagher's translation is pitch-perfect. It's hard t
Jul 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Half of the stories I would rate at 5. and the rest at 1, thus the mean rating of 3 stars.
Steven Werber
May 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book may be brilliant but it was well over my head. Torturous and unpleasant to read though some of the themes are interesting.
Alexander Páez
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Es lo más raro que he leído en MUCHO, MUCHO tiempo. Surrealista se queda corto.
Max Cantor
rated it really liked it
Jul 07, 2018
rated it really liked it
Aug 19, 2015
Feb 25, 2010 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
rated it it was ok
Dec 22, 2010
rated it it was ok
Apr 19, 2014
Brent Shelley
rated it liked it
Aug 13, 2018
Malleable Art
rated it really liked it
Apr 14, 2014
Gengen Kusano
rated it really liked it
Sep 13, 2016
rated it liked it
Jun 07, 2015
rated it liked it
Apr 27, 2013
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Norwescon: Self-Reference ENGINE 2 14 Jan 30, 2014 06:37AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Having Difficulty merging two books 2 23 Dec 01, 2013 12:32AM  
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Toh EnJoe (Japanese: 円城 塔 Hepburn: Enjō Tō, pen name) (born September 15, 1972) is a Japanese author. His works are usually literary fiction, speculative fiction or science fiction.

Born in 1972 in Sapporo, he graduated from the physics department of Tohoku University, then went on to the graduate school at University of Tokyo and received Ph.D. for a mathematical physical study on the natural lang

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“When I went to demolish my grandmother's house, a whole bunch of Freuds came up from under the floorboards.” 0 likes
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