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233 pages, Hardcover
First published July 23, 2010
Life is, to some extent, an extended dialogue with your future self about how exactly you are going to let yourself down over the coming years.There is genuine depth here...and passion.
You want to tell a story? Grow a heart. Grow two. Now, with the second heart, smash the first one into bits. Gross, right? A bloody pulpy liquid mess. Look at it, try to make sense of it. Realize you can't. Because there is no sense. Ask your computer to print out a list of every lie you have ever told. Ask yourself how much of the universe you have ever really seen. Look in the mirror. Are you sure you're you? Are you sure you didn't slip out of yourself in the middle of the night, and someone else slipped into you, without you or you or any of you even noticing.As beautiful as some of the writing is, even more impressive is the meaning, the force, the import saturating the prose.
Failure is easy to measure. Failure is an event. Harder to measure is insignificance. A nonevent. Insignificance creeps, it dawns, it gives you hope, then delusion, then one day, when you’re not looking, it’s there, at your front door, on your desk, in the mirror, or not, not any of that, it’s the lack of all that. One day, when you are looking, it’s not looking, no one is. You lie in your bed and realize that if you don’t get out of bed and into the world today, it is very likely no one will even notice.Eye-hugging, ear-pleasing prose, heartfelt, enjoyable story-telling, and content that made me, more than once, stop to ponder its relevance in my own life.
When it happens, this is what happens: I shoot myself. Not, you know, my self self. I shoot my future self. He steps out of a time machine, introduces himself as Charles Yu. What else am I supposed to do? I kill him. I kill my own future.
This is what I say: I've got good news and bad news. The good news is, you don't have to worry, you can't change the past. The bad news is, you don't have to worry, no matter how hard you try, you can't change the past...The universe just doesn't put up with that. We aren't important enough. No one is. Even in our own lives. We're not strong enough, willful enough, skilled enough in chronodiegetic manipulation to be able to just accidentally change the entire course of anything, even ourselves.Following the opening scene of temporal murder/suicide, the book unfolds mostly as a series of memories from Charles’s childhood, tied together with his present search for his father. These life vignettes seque into philosophical expositions that have, as their foundational spring board, both scientific and science fiction mainstays. The execution by Yu is this regard is, for the most art, nothing short of genius and my brain gaped at the way Yu tied laser beams, quantum physics and Han Solo into philosophical discussions of what it means to be human.
Time is a machine: it will convert your pain into experience. Raw data will be compiled, will be translated into a more comprehensible language. The individual events of your life will be transmuted into another substance called memory and in the mechanism something will be lost and you will never be able to reverse it, you will never again have the original moment back in its uncategorized, unprocessed state. It will force you to move on and you will not have a choice in the matter.It’s a quest for self knowledge, self awareness and self propulsion using the twisted, and very cleverly employed, clichés of science fiction.
Time isn't an orderly stream. Time isn't a placid lake recording each of our ripples. Time is viscous. Time is a massive flow. It is a self-healing substance, which is to say, almost everything will be lost. We're too slight, to inconsequential, despite all of our thrashing and swimming and waving our arms about. Time is an ocean of inertia, drowning out the small vibrations, absorbing the slosh and churn, the foam and wash, and we're up here, flapping and slapping and just generally spazzing out, and sure, there's a little splashing on the surface, but that doesn't even register in the depths, in the powerful undercurrents miles below us, taking us wherever they are taking us.4.0 to 4.5 stars. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
Enter the following data:
META (search for definition)
SCIENCE FICTION (search for definition)
TIME TRAVEL (search for definition)
To find the only way to exit a time loop, please refer to Appendix A of this manual (How To Live Safely Inside a Science Fictional Universe)
"Most people I know live their lives in a constant forward direction, the whole time looking backward."
"Time isn't a placid lake, recording our ripples...we are too slight, too inconsequential, despite all of our thrashing and swimming and waving our arms about..sure, there's a little bit of splashing up the surface but that doesn't even register in the depths, in the powerful undercurrents miles below us, taking us wherever they are taking us."
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"Find the book you wrote, and read it until the end, but don't turn the last page yet, keep stalling, see how long you can keep expanding the infinitely expandable moment. Enjoy the elastic present, which can accommodate as little as much as you want to put in there. Stretch it out, LIVE INSIDE IT."
Reality represents 13 percent of the total surface area and 17 percent of the total volume of Minor Universe 31. The remainder consists of a standard composite base SF substrate.
Inhabitants of Universe 31 are separated into two categories, protagonists and back office.
Protagonists may choose from any available genre. Currently there are openings in steampunk.
In order to qualify as a protagonist, a human must be able to demonstrate an attachment coefficient of at least 0.75. A coefficient of 1.00 or above is required in order to be a hero.
My cousin is in accounts receivable on the Death Star, and whenever we talk he always says how nice it'd be if I joined him. He says they have a good cafeteria. So that's an option.
The volumetric integral of the function defined by the loop represents the maximum amount of life that CY-1 can have, including joy and pain.
My main issue is that Charles Yu arranged a big Homecoming Metafiction Parade down Metafiction Avenue, and he’s the Metafiction Parade Marshal waving to us from his big Metafiction Float just in front of the Metafiction Show Horses who will take a big steaming Metafiction Dump right in the street in front of us.