Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Staff Picks

I love classic science fiction stories so it thrills me to discover new books that explore the reoccurring storylines in surprising ways.  Think you’ve heard every conceivable time travel scenario? Think again.

In Sean Ferrell’s Man in the Empty Suit the inventor of a time machine celebrates his birth with a visit to an abandoned hotel in a futuristic Manhattan-- just like he does every year.  Versions of himself at each age and in various states of intoxication make the festivities surreal and surprisingly antagonistic, especially when he discovers he won’t survive the next birthday party.

In this unusual mystery our time traveler is the victim and detective, plus all of the witnesses and most likely the killer.   Sean Ferrell’s intriguing vision of a future Manhattan and the backstory of a mysterious actress who stands in as the daughter of a dying alcoholic are fascinating subplots within this unique story.

How might time travel transform daily life?  Author Charles Yu suspects the advance would tempt people to relive their worst moments and in How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe that’s precisely what the characters--one of them called Charles Yu—keep doing.

I really enjoy the wit and psychological aspects of this novel so I'll share some quotes. 

Most people I know live their lives moving in a constant forward direction, the whole time looking backward.

Time is a machine: it will convert your pain into experience... It will force you to move on and you will not have a choice in the matter. 

In 2007 the National Book Foundation selected Charles Yu for the 5 Under 35 award and in 2010 How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe was runner up for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.    I can't help predicting we'll see more great stories from this author in the not too distant future.

Alicia Cavitt
Information Specialist

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