Thursday, October 7, 2010

How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe

While I appreciate the logical, but theoretically contradictory ending to
 How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe (How to…), I much more enjoyed the beginning of this entertaining and intriguing first novel from the immensely talented Charles Yu.

Yu kicks off How to… with a loose description of a time machine: the TM-31 Recreational Time Travel Device which is maintained by our protagonist Charles Yu (no relation to the author!).   Charles is a certified network technician for T-Class personal-use chronogrammatical vehicles.  At first, Charles comes off as an emotionally immature nerd. His deepest relationship is with the software system behind the TM-31 that he’s assigned to.  TAMMY is the personality skin that runs the TM-31.  

However, over the course of this highly entertaining book we’re educated to the ‘real’ history of time machines and their effect on our hero’s development as an adult.  Martin Heidegger would’ve been proud because author Yu places the TM-31 technician into a personal historical perspective that rings of self authentication. 

Not that How to… is Luddite oriented, to say the least!  Along the way,
Yu introduces ‘scientific’ background of the potentials of time travel.
Or, as our Charles’ father explains time travel is more a matter of temporarily tinkering with human perception, as opposed to altering the physical laws of reality.     

For analysis of another sci-fi tale with Heideggerian leanings check out this interpretation of the movie Twelve Monkeys

-Tom C Smith

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Want to read it? Visit the library!

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