Thursday, November 5, 2015

Chronological living is a kind of lie. That's why I don't do it anymore

I was wandering around The Strand one day, failing to talk myself into a few graphic novels, but one one of the many themed tables (which PS I loooooooove) I found this book How to Life Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu. It's the first book in awhile that I've picked up without really knowing anything about it other than what the back of the book told me. But it seemed interesting enough so I went with it.

The book features protagonist Charles Yu (yes, same as the author) living in the future as a time machine mechanic. Sort of like AAA for time machines. He also lives in his time machine with his dog-that-doesn't-exist Ed and the machine's onboard depressed computer TAMMY. Between assignments, he visits his mother, who's retired to a time loop, reliving the same hour forever, and searches for his father who invented the time machine and then disappeared.

One day he gets stuck in a time loop himself. He rushes back to headquarters to pick up his machine, which was being serviced, when he sees his future self stepping out of a machine. He shoots his future self and as he's dying, future self gives present self a book telling him the book is the key. Present self jumps in the machine and now is doomed where he'll eventually have to travel back in time to get shot so he can give future self the book.

Wendig talks about mistakes new writers make and one of those struck a nerve when it came to this book. Get to the Fucking Story Already. I appreciate there's world building but I got to page 80 and the story hadn't really begun yet. Foundations were still being laid and I was losing interest. And then I started to zone out while reading and this book is so meta, you need to pay attention. By the end I couldn't really remember anything about the book, just that I was so bored while reading it.

Maybe at some point I'll revisit it. I feel like there's an interesting story hidden in here. Maybe I just need to be in a different frame of mind for it.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 22

Yu, Charles. How to Life Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. Vintage, 2010.