Book Review: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe - Charles Yu by Scott Spooner

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Opening

“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.”

I’ve always been a sucker for time travel. It opens up so many opportunities for plot twists and speculation. But what Charles Yu has done with this novel is reintroduce time travel in ways I’ve never imagined. His unique writing style makes this world into something that is all its own.

The story is about Charles Yu, the main character, a time machine repairman. He lives a simple quiet life and being able to move through and out of time he always keeps the world at a safe distance. Other than his time machine AI and his dog, which technically doesn’t exist, Yu spends his time alone reminiscing about the past and his mother and father. But when his time machine’s routine maintenance goes awry, Yu finds himself in a time loop where his only chance of escape is finally trying to move his life forward.

The relationships Yu shows us are beautiful and honest. And the Universe he creates is incredible. Time travel here is an analogy on how we spend our own time and perhaps the mistakes we all sometimes make. This story is one of those that even when it’s done you won’t stop thinking about it. I still haven’t. I’ve never read anything quite like it and I’m so glad I was lucky enough to stumble upon it.

 

Book Review: Pocket Kings - Ted Heller by Scott Spooner

Opening

"It is a cold and harrowing morning in the life of a man the day he wakes up, looks at himself in the mirror, and finally realizes that he is not, has never been, nor will ever be George Clooney."

 

Part comedy, part confessional, and at times delusional, Pocket Kings is the story of a washed out writer who turns to online gambling to curb his dissatisfaction with life. However, his toe in the water leads to complete obsession as this writer finally finds something he's good at. With each added failure of his writing career his chip count goes up. But just as with any broken man, when things are finally looking up the only place to go is down.

This is the only book I've read by Ted Heller, but from the first page I knew it was a good fit. Frank Dixon has everything you want in a main character; self loathing, a sense of humor, and just enough hope to think he can make things better for himself. The book also touches on the weird and twisted world of book publishers as Frank spends more time looking in on the world than he is actually a part of it. And it's those ingredients that make this book such a quick read. We meet Frank, feel some sympathy and we're along for the ride. Heller does a great job of taking us on a true journey of addiction. What starts as break a from his day to day routine slowly becomes his only routine and we see the compromises Frank makes with himself to end up there.

If you enjoy books about writers, gambling, or just looking for some great one-liners this book is definitely worth picking up.

 

In Netflix We Trust by Scott Spooner

Last week Netflix debuted House of Cards, an original series by them. I've watched the first three episodes and I have to say it's pretty good. It's a got all the "plot thickens", good one-liners, likeable and hateable characters as any show on TV.

The part that's really intriguing to me, is it isn't on TV. It's on Netflix. Now you have a program and an entire "network" that isn't being strapped by the FCC or held back by affiliations. The rules have changed. Now, I'm sure if you dug deep enough there may be someone with an agenda. But it has to be microscopic if you consider all of the things affecting programs today. So aside from the fact that Netflix means I get Arrested Development back, it actually can mean so much more for the future of television. 

For example, what if Conan started doing his talkshow on Netflix? I'm a big fan, but I never watch TBS and can't catch up on Hulu. But, if I could see him there I sure as hell would. Or what if Aaron Sorkin's Newsroom didn't have to be a fantasy?  Could a Netflix news show save investigative reporting? Something that is actually Bipartisan? Some networks are doing away with entire investigative departments because "the ratings just aren't there." It's so weird. You cut off the balls of your reporters and black out half of their findings and then for some mysterious reason your viewership is falling? 

Netflix levels the playing field. If they continues making their own programing, with a user base as large as theirs, the opportunities are pretty endless.

Malaria - Edson Oda by Scott Spooner

Malaria by Edson Oda is, to put it simply, awesome. It has so many different aspects to it that it's hard to categorize. At its bare bones, it's the story of Fabiano, a young mercenary, who's hired to kill death. And on a grander scale it's part short film, part illustration, and part experiment. In a short time you get Edson's style and then he shows you how far he can push it. It's pretty impressive, especially when you consider he shot and wrote the story. For more of his work visit his vimeo or portfolio