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.