Monday, August 12, 2013

Yu, Charles (How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe)

On the strength of a strong recommendation, I read this short science-fiction novel. I can see where my recommender was coming from, but, the truth? I really had trouble with it. Here are my problems:

1) The author is fond of run-on sentences. Those kinds of sentences would be fine (heck, I do them myself) but they are things like "I knew myself then, but I also knew myself now, and when the then is the now, it's okay to know yourself in the past, and know yourself in the future, and not understand where you are in the present" (not verbatim, but close enough). I mean, blah, blah, blah. I get the picture, and you spouting it over and over and over again isn't going to help. It just slows down the narrative...

2) ...of which there is very little. The book is essentially philosophical spoutings with a plot thinly etched around the boundaries. I don't lean towards loving extraneous musings about life - this is why I almost failed the only philosophy course I ever took in college - and when it's supposed to have been contextualized by an interesting time travel story, the feeling of disappointment is keen.

3) In the end, the novel is about getting out of your own head and living your life. That your life is actually this science-fictional setting that he's describing throughout the book. OK, I get that, but it doesn't make up for the disappointment of the first two points.

4) Lastly, he never tells you how he found his father. Sorry if that's a spoiler, but if you thought he wouldn't find his father at the end, you've been reading some strange books. He spends the last 5 pages - including Appendix A - describing what happened to the time loop and meeting up with his father, and if anyone can tell me how he actually DID meet his father, please let me know. I am befuddled and pissed that that ending is so obtuse. Couldn't he have used one of his run-on sentences to clue us in?

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