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How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
Monthly Read: Random > June 2012 Random Read - How to Live in a Sciencefictional Universe

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message 1: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1282 comments Mod
Welcome to June! Our read is How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.

Time machines, Father issues...What's not to love?

Who is planning to dive into this? I am about halfway through, and enjoying it....

message 2: by Jenny (new) - added it

Jenny (jennyc89) Considering I own it and I nominated it I'll definitely be reading it this month.

Riona (rionafaith) | 14 comments I read this a few months ago and loved it.

message 4: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1282 comments Mod
I finished last night...and what a great read! It was humorous in a self-deprecating kind of way, and I really liked how it ended.
Made me wax all philosophical about the ruts we get ourselves into and how those affect both ourselves and those around us.
Great read and not difficult at all.

message 5: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Marcantel | 8 comments I plan to start reading this as soon as I finish up with Tigana, should have about a week worth of reading before I'm done with that. The concept for this book is interesting to me so I cannot wait to dive in head first! Also the cover is awesome.

Richard (thinkingbluecountingtwo) | 232 comments Just downloaded it. As I've now got at least 3 months off work with a ruptured achilles tendon I might even get around to reading it.

Sounds like just what I need at the mo, bit of gentle humour and not too difficult.

message 7: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Mccafferty | 13 comments I read this several months ago. I have been waiting to find someone to discuss it with. I can't wait to hear what you all think of it.

message 8: by Richard (last edited Jun 14, 2012 03:59PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Richard (thinkingbluecountingtwo) | 232 comments Lisa wrote: "I read this several months ago. I have been waiting to find someone to discuss it with. I can't wait to hear what you all think of it."

I'll show you mine if you show me yours ;-)

Sorry, bit cheesy but I hope you know what I mean.

I'll go first.
Only finished it last night and still in the thoughtful pause bit. I'm not totally convinced this is Science Fiction rather than something else entirely, just dressed up in the tropes and language of Sci Fi. Very interesting and very clever, maybe just a little too clever for me. SF & F is a fantastic genre for exploring almost any subject/situation/idea that can be found in the mainstream or any other genre, from high adventure to romance and clever intellectual or psychological drama. But this didn't seem to me like an SF story that confronts personal issues rather than an examination of Mr Yu's feelings about writing and family and self, but lovingly draped in the clothes of Science Fiction. I like popular science writing, especially about cosmology, and while reading things such as The Fabric of the Cosmos or more famously A Brief History of Time I feel like I truly understand what is being said, until the next morning when my grasp of the high concepts start to drift away like a nearly remembered dream. So I get the use of things like time like curves etc, but I never felt like I was meant to engage my suspense of disbelief and go with the explanations, they were purely window dressing for decoration, give it a feel but not integral in any way to the story. That is where I think this story departs from SF & F in that it never requires the reader to do that trick, of which us here are so very good at, of suspending our disbelief and immersing ourselves in the conjectures of the author.
I do wonder if Charles Yu is a fan of the Jasper Fforde books, and can't help comparing this book with Galaxies by Barry N. Malzberg which also uses SF tropes to explore the authors personal issues and the act of writing.

I did enjoy the book, hence 3 stars but I don't think I'm quite clever enough or sensitive enough to get all that Mr Yu was trying to say, hence I've not said anything at all about the search for a (lost?) father and a time looped mother, while hiding away in a quite corner of space time. Metaphors all I'm sure, but I don't feel as if they ever wanted to be taken for anything more.

Phew, don't I go on!

You're turn.

Please. :-)

message 9: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1282 comments Mod
I agree Richard!
though I wouldn't say it isn't sci-fi, it wasn't anything technical about time-travel, more just about its effect on this family.
The thoughts about how we all time-travel just in our addictions to the past and worries about the future really hit a chord with me...who can say how much each of us have aged while stuck in an old thought pattern?
We see folks everyday that the world is 'passing by' time-wise....

I really liked that it made me introspective while still being a light read!

message 10: by Tad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tad (tottman) | 54 comments I read this book about a year ago and wasn't all that impressed. It was ok, but I thought it really fizzled badly after a pretty good beginning. The initial premise and the world he created were fairly interesting, but then in the second half of the book he sort of abandoned that and it became almost entirely an interior monologue and self-examination. Frankly, I was less interested in him than he was in himself.

Megan Baxter | 277 comments Mod
Yeah, I'd agree, Tad. I've been struggling to find something to say about this book because I neither loved it nor hated it.

The stuff I liked the most had a vaguely Jasper Fforde-esque quality to it, but he didn't engage with it, or use it to fill out the picture of a world the way Fforde does. As for the central metaphor of the book, I found it interesting, but the actual story dry.

message 12: by Jenny (new) - added it

Jenny (jennyc89) I'm not that far in but I'm not enjoying it so far, which is disappointing because I own it and I nominated it. I'm going to give it a little more time but at this point I may not finish it. To me it seems like he's trying to be Douglas Adams but isn't as good, or at points he's taking it too seriously? I'm not even sure how to describe my feelings on this one.

message 13: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Mccafferty | 13 comments I agree completely with Richard's assessment of it. I liked it because it seemed fresh to me and it made me think but anyone looking for a straight up scifi read would be frustrated.

message 14: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1282 comments Mod
I agree Lisa-waxing philosophically about relationships while in a science fiction type of situation maybe a better description.....definitely not straight up sci-fi

message 15: by Jim (new) - added it

Jim I will also agree this isn't really a science fiction novel in the usual sense. While hard to categorize, it's really more musings about the ways we can all become trapped in time in our own lives, with just a few science fictional sprinkles on top.

I also don't think the comparisons to Adams or Dick are really accurate. If anything, I felt Yu was trying to channel Vonnegut. But it was just a little too clever, too self-congratulatory to pull that off. Still, I'm glad I read it - it's one that will stick with me for a while I think.

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