Have you been watching Westworld on HBO? Are you as knowledgeable about science fiction as Annalee Newitz? If your answer is yes to both of these questions, then you’ll already know that literary sci-fi writer Charles Yu is in the Westworld writer’s room, lending his smart and unnerving sensibility to a smart and unnerving show about cowboy sex robots. (As for me, I just noticed his name in the credits while I was watching last night, and got really excited.)
If Yu’s not on your radar yet, then you’re in luck, since you’re about to discover a super great young writer who, if there’s any justice in the world, will become a mega-bestselling young writer. In addition to Westworld, he’s the author of an excellent novel and an equally excellent short story collection. You can find his bibliography and excerpted Booklist reviews below, and read and/or listen to his story, “Fable,” in the The New Yorker.
The eponymous lonely-guy narrator in Yu’s debut novel is a time-machine repairman working in the slightly damaged Minor Universe 31, where people can time-travel for recreational purposes—or, Charles muses, is it re-creational purposes, given our desire to rewrite history? Charles dwells in a small module with TAMMY, a cute but insecure operating system, and Ed the dog, who is good company even though he’s a “weird ontological entity” rather than a flesh-and-blood animal.
Sorry Please Thank You (2012)
This whimsically sad and comically inventive first story collection delivers more of Yu’s satiric obsession with nerd culture and science as he explores losers, loners, and lovers in the digital age. Yu’s bold, playful voice evokes a computer-era Donald Barthelme, but his stylistic journey into the vast universe that is the human mind is refreshingly distinctive.