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Charles Yu (1) (1976–)

Author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

For other authors named Charles Yu, see the disambiguation page.

12+ Works 4,292 Members 258 Reviews 3 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: By Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17098066

Works by Charles Yu

Associated Works

The Time Traveller's Almanac (2013) — Contributor — 566 copies
Shadow Show (2012) — Contributor — 364 copies
Press Start to Play (2015) — Contributor — 258 copies
Robot Uprisings (2014) — Contributor — 186 copies
Dead Man's Hand (2014) — Contributor — 159 copies
Lightspeed: Year One (2011) — Contributor — 139 copies
The Decameron Project: 29 New Stories from the Pandemic (2020) — Contributor — 109 copies
The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2011 Edition (2011) — Contributor — 93 copies
Last Night, a Superhero Saved My Life (2016) — Contributor — 60 copies
Resist: Tales from a Future Worth Fighting Against (2018) — Contributor — 55 copies
Shadow Show: Stories In Celebration of Ray Bradbury (2014) — Contributor — 51 copies
Watchlist: 32 Stories by Persons of Interest (2015) — Contributor — 49 copies
Speculative Los Angeles (2021) — Contributor — 40 copies
Lost Worlds & Mythological Kingdoms (2022) — Contributor — 31 copies
Drivel: Deliciously Bad Writing by Your Favorite Authors (2014) — Contributor — 28 copies
Avatars Inc (2020) — Contributor — 13 copies
Gigantic Worlds (2015) — Contributor — 11 copies
Pwning Tomorrow (2015) — Contributor — 11 copies
Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 100 • September 2018 (2018) — Contributor — 9 copies
Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 83 • April 2017 (2017) — Contributor — 7 copies
Polychrome Futures and Fantasies — Contributor — 7 copies

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Reviews

Very interesting book. Its told entirely like a script of a TV show (he uses a typewriter font type and the page numbers are all on the upper right of each page, like it was a type-written script - annoying in book form when looking for the page number on the left hand side of the book ;) . Willis lives in tenement apartment building and works in a Chinese Restaurant, but he's part of an endless production of a police procedural drama called Black and White. He and his friends and family are part of the actors and extras for this show. Young Asian Man, or Egg Roll Chef, Silent Henchman; all the tropes that we've grown up with. But he's never been a main character, his dream is to be Kung Fu Guy. I was never quite sure if the show was real, or it was an alternate universe, or just a narrative device. Ultimately its Yu's examination of the history of Asian culture in American and how its depicted in popular media. I enjoyed it quite a bit, recommend.… (more)
 
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mahsdad | 84 other reviews | Apr 3, 2024 |
Fascinating take on time travel. Written by somebody who at least sounds like they know what they're writing about, but easy enough to understand the concepts. Part philosophy, part science, part psychology, this book has a little something for everybody.
 
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teejayhanton | 134 other reviews | Mar 22, 2024 |
The format of this novel as a metafictional sometimes hallucinatory screenplay is one I'm sort of surprised has met with as much favor as it has. It's not the most accessible, but it is super interesting and will give you a perspective you probably haven't spent much time considering before (at least I hadn't). The format of the novel as screenplay at first led me into confusion, wondering what was "real" and what was "fiction" inside this fictional world. Is his dad really a kung-fu expert as he's presented, or is that part of the Kung Fu Guy metaphor for making it vs. not making it as an Asian-American? And then realizing that the screenplay format reinforces the idea of the main character playing a role in his normal everyday life as an Asian American was an a-ha moment. As he says in a section in which the Asian-American experience is essentially placed on trial:

But at the same time, I'm guilty, too. Guilty of playing this role. Letting it define me. Internalizing the role so completely that I've lost track of where reality starts and the performance begins.


Which gets to how this novel is not just about how America treats and has historically treated Asian-Americans, it's about how Asian-Americans navigate and behave in this reality. How people perform the role expected of them, to what degree they are forced into doing it ("No one will hire you because you don't have an accent. It's weird.") and to what degree they choose it themselves. The main character's marriage falls apart evidently because he can't let go of that role that's expected of him as an Asian-American, and later watching his daughter he reflects on the choice he's made and how he hopes she'll be different:

Watching her is like finding old letters, of things you knew thirty years ago and haven't thought of since. How to feel, how to be yourself. Not how to perform or act. How to be.


It's a powerful and inventive novel, well worth its win of the National Book Award.
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lelandleslie | 84 other reviews | Feb 24, 2024 |
I think I started this with more than a little suspicion as hesitation. I feel like I've generally approached science-fiction and fantasy from two directions; becoming wedded to particular authors with particular styles and devouring most of their oeuvre. But after being gifted this over the holidays I decided to try something different, and I'm certainly grateful.

I think I'd mostly thought of the science-fiction and fantasy I'd read as escapist and only incidentally interesting literarily or with relevance to the present. Favourites such as [b:Hyperion|77566|Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1)|Dan Simmons|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1405546838s/77566.jpg|1383900] or [b:Red Mars|77507|Red Mars (Mars Trilogy, #1)|Kim Stanley Robinson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1440699787s/77507.jpg|40712] obviously have allusions, but they're not necessarily the focus and the setting is just as important. A lot of these stories, by contrast, have less to worry about in terms of worldbuilding, in terms of keeping you engaged for a multi-volume epic, and so they can play more directly with ideas. I think I appreciate this a great deal, because though not every idea resonates it's refreshing not to be reading genre fiction as fiction for the sake of being in or appealing to a genre, but fiction that uses the genre as a means to an end. I always described what I got out of SF/fantasy this way, but I think I can say it more confidently now!

I'll walk through some in the collection I have relatively cogent thoughts on:

The Witch of Orion Waste and the Boy Knight by E. Lily Yu absolutely nailed its tone, for me. I want to read this out loud at some point, to listen to it. It skewers the tropes of fairytale in a way I hadn't seen before, not just saying "what if we empathised with the witch" but "what does it mean to be a witch in fairytale?" Thought-provoking and enjoyable.

Openness by Alexander Weinstein is one I wish was longer. Exploring the consequences of the secrets and layers and technology dependence his characters have demanded a relatively swift resolution in short-story, but (and my worldbuilder is leaking) could be an amazing setting for longer drama.

Vulcanization by Nisi Shawl made me want to read more alternate-history fiction. It's easy to forget and hard to imagine the minds of colonisers of the time, and if anything I think Shawl's portrayal misses some of the likely lack of conscience/banality of the perpetrators, which might be scarier in hindsight.

The Venus Effect by Joseph Allen Hill really had me questioning at first. I think I had a tendency to view metafiction as somehow easier than the regular kind, because you relinquish some of the need to allow the reader to draw their own interpretations. But what you gain, at least here, is a unusually specific and revealing understanding of the patterns of stories of police brutality, and the ways they are left out as well.

In any anthology there will be some stories you like more than others, but at least I felt exposed to more niches in SF and fantasy than I had been previously, and enjoyed almost all of the stories. Excited to follow up on some of those leads!
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Zedseayou | 5 other reviews | Jan 30, 2024 |

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