Sometime in the past, an unaltered past, an Event occurred. Since then, the space-time construct has not been linear. The past and the future can both be altered.

“The plan is predicated on the notion that a singular space-time will exist at some time in the future. In other words, if the plan succeeds, its success will be made manifest in the future. The plan will succeed by basing its operations on what is already known from the future.”

page 167

The giant corpus of knowledge, the term for the group of advanced beings that evolved out of computers, deals with the space-time construct. Humans? They live in a world where everything is happening or changing.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

This book weaves stories together where the space-time construct is non-linear, proving to be an intelligent thought-experiment.

Self-Reference ENGINE is a 2013 Philip K. Dick award nominee.

Rating (3 stars)

If I seemed to imply at any time that this book makes sense, I am sorry. It does not.

I almost feel that people may rate it high simply in order to not look dumb, because this book is definitely not for everyone. This is  an experimental sci-fi book organized as a loose collection of vignettes or short stories that roughly take place in the same fluctuating universe.

These stories may include talking socks, disappearing text on a catfish statue, an inexplicable joystick, and no less than 22 inert Freuds (Sigmund… how ever did Grandma collect so many of him?).

If that paragraph made you think, oh this is full of non-sequitors like Hitchhikers, and I love Hitchhikers, just stop. This book is sometimes poignant, existential, thought-provoking and above all, rigorous. My brain is exhausted.

The part that made the most sense to me was the author bio on the last page that states “After completing a PhD at the University of Tokyo, he became a researcher in theoretical physics.”

Although this book was translated from Japanese by Terry Gallagher, translation issues are not the reason for the often-baffling moments.

I believe this book is a cutting-edge experiment and an extended thought experiment on the space-time continuum. However, I can’t say I personally enjoyed it. Sadly, reading this work of high concept sci-fi just felt like a chore to me.