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Charles Yu

Charles Yu(1976- )
Charles Yu is a lawyer with degrees from University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia. His short story collection Third Class Superhero was published in 2006, and his first novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, came out in 2010. In an interview with the New York Times Artbeat blog, Yu jokingly said that his parents “would have killed me if I have pursued an MFA” and that while in college he never took a creative writing class. He was named one of the National Book foundations “Five under Thirty-Five;” young writers to watch. Charles Yu lives in Santa Monica, California with his wife, Michelle, and their two children.

Sorry Please Thank You: Stories by Charles Yu

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Sorry Please Thank You: Stories by Charles Yu

[At The Edge of the Universe, we review books that may not be classified SFF but that incorporate elements of speculative fiction. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]

It is rare that I find myself blown away by a collection of short stories. Unless it is a "selected" anthology, where an editor can sort through a long career of writing and winnow out the mediocre and simply bad (even then there’ll most likely be at least a few I don’t care for), collections tend to evoke a “meh” response from me, mostly because I only liked half to two-thirds of the stories.

Such, unfortunately, is the case with Sorry Please Thank You: Stories, the new collection from Charles Yu. In terms of the thirteen individual st... Read More

More speculative fiction from Charles Yu

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsHow to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A novel — (2010) Publisher: National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award winner Charles Yu delivers his debut novel, a razor-sharp, ridiculously funny, and utterly touching story of a son searching for his father… through quantum space–time. Minor Universe 31 is a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction, where paradox fluctuates like the stock market, lonely sexbots beckon failed protagonists, and time travel is serious business. Every day, people get into time machines and try to do the one thing they should never do: change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician—part counselor, part gadget repair man — steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls or consoling his boss, Phil, who could really use an upgrade, Yu visits his mother (stuck in a one-hour cycle of time, she makes dinner over and over and over) and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and Ed, a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory. He learns that the key may be found in a book he got from his future self. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and he’s the author. And somewhere inside it is the information that could help him — in fact it may even save his life. Wildly new and adventurous, Yu’s debut is certain to send shock waves of wonder through literary space–time.


fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Third Class Superhero — (2006) Publisher: Charles Yu experiments with form and genre to explore the stories we tell ourselves while navigating contemporary life. In “Third Class Superhero,” a would-be good guy must come to terms with the darkness in his heart. A couple living in the Luxury Car Commercial subdivision in “401(k)” are disappointed when their exotic vacation turns into a Life Insurance/Asset Management pitch. The author struggles to write the definitive biography of his mother in “Autobiographical Raw Material Unsuitable for the Mining of Fiction.” In these and other stories, Yu’s characters run up against the conventions and parameters of their artificial story lines while tackling the terrifying aspects of existence: mothers, jobs, spouses, the need to express feelings. Heartbreaking, hilarious, smart, and surprising, Third Class Superhero marks the arrival of an impressive new talent.


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