web site hit counter Self-Reference ENGINE - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Self-Reference ENGINE

Availability: Ready to download

Toh EnJoe’s prize-winning fiction is well-known in Japan for crossing the streams—from hardcore science fiction to bizarre surrealism—and has found an audience across the genre divide. Self-Reference ENGINE is a puzzle of a book, where vignette and story and philosophy combine to create a novel designed like a concept album.


Compare

Toh EnJoe’s prize-winning fiction is well-known in Japan for crossing the streams—from hardcore science fiction to bizarre surrealism—and has found an audience across the genre divide. Self-Reference ENGINE is a puzzle of a book, where vignette and story and philosophy combine to create a novel designed like a concept album.

30 review for Self-Reference ENGINE

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is the sort of the book that will either blow your mind or leave you confused and annoyed. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category. Self-Reference ENGINE is "not a novel, not an anthology; it is a SELF-REFERENCE ENGINE." What it is is very weird science fiction surrealism, with a thin thread of - I won't call it a plot, more like a theme or some common ideas - running through disjointed chapters that sometimes refer to one another and sometimes seem dropped in at random from some othe This is the sort of the book that will either blow your mind or leave you confused and annoyed. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category. Self-Reference ENGINE is "not a novel, not an anthology; it is a SELF-REFERENCE ENGINE." What it is is very weird science fiction surrealism, with a thin thread of - I won't call it a plot, more like a theme or some common ideas - running through disjointed chapters that sometimes refer to one another and sometimes seem dropped in at random from some other book. At the heart of the book is the "giant corpora of knowledge," collections of artificial intelligences that exist in the future but became extinct in the past, become quite upset to realize they don't actually exist, triggered an Event that split the universe into an infinite number of realities, and are visited by a star-man named Alpha Centauri who tells them very politely that they are unfortunately a bit inconvenient and will need to be pushed out of the way. (I suspect that tones of Hitchhiker's Guide were not coincidental - there are a lot of other in-jokes for serious literary and sci-fi geeks.) Originally written in Japanese by a theoretical physicist (Toh EnJoe is a pen name) and translated into English, I think much of my problem with this book was the translation. The tone and cadence of language changes dramatically - for example, the constant repetition of the phrase "giant corpora of knowledge" (there are actually in-book explanations why they can't simply be referred to as "computers" or "AIs") - but also the style does not flow in English. I've read other Japanese books in translation and know that sometimes even the best translation can be a little choppy or odd - Japanese literature is just different from Western writing - but I didn't have this problem with Murakami or Abe or Kawabata. Still, I suspect even if I read it in the original Japanese I'd have found this book hard to get through, despite being fairly short. There are lots of very bizarre and interesting ideas, from quantum physics to alternate realities. Zeno's Paradox and time travel mechanics get passing mentions, but what will probably stick with you are the arguments with a sentient bobby sock, the girl who fires a bullet into the future, that one of the narrators worries will be aimed at one of his testicles, and the giant corpora of knowledge that are recursive and matrioshka-like, and sometimes take the form of old Japanese men in a traditional print shop, and sometimes are more like constructs out of the Matrix. Reading this was an experience. I just can't call it a fun experience. It's worth looking at, because it's probably unlike anything you've read before, but it seems like one of those books destined to become a cult favorite by the elitist of nerds who will look down their noses at you if you claim you like Japanese science fiction. "Oh yeah?" they'll sneer. "I'll bet you mean weaboo shit like Gundam and Battle Royale." And of course Haruki Murakami is for hipsters. But read some Toh EnJoe, man, that's real Nipponophile cred. I wish I'd liked this book more. It's of those books that leaves you with the disquieting feeling that maybe you just weren't smart enough to appreciate it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard Stuart

    Division of fractions; escape by eraser; befuddlement of symbiotic intelligences; this book romps through the broken shards of time/space which have been fractured irrevocably by the 'Event'. A warped imagination underpins this mathematical fairy tale and creates delightful rabbit holes to stumble down into. An alternative narrative, loosely based on many different characters works admirably because of the unusual setting: a universe that has been shattered into countless other universes of vari Division of fractions; escape by eraser; befuddlement of symbiotic intelligences; this book romps through the broken shards of time/space which have been fractured irrevocably by the 'Event'. A warped imagination underpins this mathematical fairy tale and creates delightful rabbit holes to stumble down into. An alternative narrative, loosely based on many different characters works admirably because of the unusual setting: a universe that has been shattered into countless other universes of variable time/space dimensions... with the ultimate goal of most of the characters being to try and restore the universe's time/space coordination to its normal working order. A very good book: clever, mindbending, and irreverent.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Muntz

    Maybe not the best, but the most interesting book I've read in 2013, and a milestone for high-concept SF, especially in translation. Full review at Mixer Publishing: http://blog.mixerpublishing.com/?p=2369 Maybe not the best, but the most interesting book I've read in 2013, and a milestone for high-concept SF, especially in translation. Full review at Mixer Publishing: http://blog.mixerpublishing.com/?p=2369

  4. 5 out of 5

    Austin Williams

    "The genre of ideas." How often have we heard science fiction, fantasy, &c. described as such? Isn't that the great justification for volunteering ourselves to the genre ghetto, for ignoring the Booker Prize winners and Nobel Laureates to focus on the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winners instead? But it's frustrating; for all this talk about science fiction being a genre of ideas, there don't seem to be a whole lot of ideas going around. Enter Toh EnJoe. A physicist. A novelist. And not sim "The genre of ideas." How often have we heard science fiction, fantasy, &c. described as such? Isn't that the great justification for volunteering ourselves to the genre ghetto, for ignoring the Booker Prize winners and Nobel Laureates to focus on the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winners instead? But it's frustrating; for all this talk about science fiction being a genre of ideas, there don't seem to be a whole lot of ideas going around. Enter Toh EnJoe. A physicist. A novelist. And not simply a science-fiction novelist, either. Toh EnJoe has won accolades not only for his theoretically informed and highly imaginative takes on the science-fiction genre, but also for his work in what genre detractors and defenders alike describe as the literary. His debut novel, Self-Reference ENGINE puts on display his knowledge as a physicist, his imagination as a storyteller, and his skill as a writer, all of which exist in abundant quantities. Unlike many more popularly palatable titles, this book has ideas, and they flow in abundance. EnJoe has been compared favourably to many of the literary surrealists – Borges and Schultz come up frequently. But there's more to EnJoe than tricks of whimsy and gimmicks of style. The most captivating and inspirational part of Self-Reference ENGINE isn't just that EnJoe treats the reader to mind-bending stories that makes one question the fabric of reality, but that his tales are based solidly on scientific understanding. When EnJoe's characters ruminate on the possibility of whether there is almost surely an infinite number of their duplicates, or when godlike computer systems find themselves struggling against one another to make space-time move the right direction, the firm grounding of mathematical and physics-based theory permeates. Causality, quantum uncertainty, infinity, string theory and the multiverse: popular topics in science fiction, all, but rarely have they been considered with such depth and imagination. EnJoe's displays his comfort with advanced physics, but he does not weigh his work down with it. He melds his knowledge with his imagination to create stories that broaden horizons and work out the brain. A sense of wonder pervades Self-Reference ENGINE. Perhaps even a sense joyfulness. The strangeness of the characters, the incidences, the events (and the Event) celebrates the wonder of both the universe and the human predicament within it. At times EnJoe does veer towards being perhaps too clever, as not all of the parts of this book match each other in terms of humour, accessibility and creativity, but even at his weakest, EnJoe shows himself more than capable of challenging and engaging the reader. Self-Reference ENGINE perhaps defies convention too much; many readers approach it expecting science fiction and finding instead both science and fiction, not a hyphenated and rigid boundary set by publishing marketers and niche enthusiasts, but two entities, married in a strange and wondrous way that could be disappointing if one comes with pre-conceived expectations and narrow horizons. Self-Reference ENGINE deserves to be celebrated, however, by those who love the wonder of the natural world and the strangeness of living within it, and for the discerning reader, there are delights and challenges that make this novel worth reading, relishing, and reading again.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Hope

    Wow, this is a book that demands a lot from the reader. But there are some rewards for sticking with it. It's not a traditional narrative, at all. It's more like a series of short stories that have a narrative connection. It's quite a mindbender, and it's not like anything you've read before. If you want straight character and plot, this is not the right book. However, if you want strange and new ideas, this is a masterpiece. The author clearly knows his science and infuses each chapter with inte Wow, this is a book that demands a lot from the reader. But there are some rewards for sticking with it. It's not a traditional narrative, at all. It's more like a series of short stories that have a narrative connection. It's quite a mindbender, and it's not like anything you've read before. If you want straight character and plot, this is not the right book. However, if you want strange and new ideas, this is a masterpiece. The author clearly knows his science and infuses each chapter with interesting ideas and twists on our existing scientific knowledge. So even though the story wasn't strong (or was nearly non-existent, depending on how you look at it), the ideas were mesmerizing. I found myself excited for each new chapter, wondering which new concept would be introduced and explored. To be clear, this book is a slog. There is no way to skim, and I had to reread entire pages three and four times to understand. But it sure was fun to decipher the ideas behind it all.

  6. 5 out of 5

    William Mansky

    There are certain lines of reasoning that, if you've spent much time around logic, abstract mathematics, or theoretical computer science, seem both entirely reasonable and entirely absurd. Toh EnJoe (a pen name, if you're wondering) has written an entire book out of these, a collection of 20 or so linked (and multiply-linked, if we are to believe the story-graph at the beginning of the book) short stories that tell the story of a world in which something very strange has happened to the nature o There are certain lines of reasoning that, if you've spent much time around logic, abstract mathematics, or theoretical computer science, seem both entirely reasonable and entirely absurd. Toh EnJoe (a pen name, if you're wondering) has written an entire book out of these, a collection of 20 or so linked (and multiply-linked, if we are to believe the story-graph at the beginning of the book) short stories that tell the story of a world in which something very strange has happened to the nature of reality. Some are stories in the conventional sense; some are more like essays or rambling diatribes, all adhering faithfully to the fractured space-time continuum that is the setting. Many are beautiful and emotional, many are whimsical and amusing, and quite a few manage both. Self-Reference ENGINE might be compared to a more modest version of the Hitchhiker's Guide, but where plot was often an encumbrance for Adams, here it only provides a platform for higher flights of fancy, and, when it takes center stage, is actually fairly compelling: this is not a science-fiction humor collection, but rather an earnest exploration of a conceptual space that happens to lend itself to the absurd. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys ruminating on life, the universe, and everything.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kallen Kentner

    The stories in this experimental sci-fi book 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. Read the full review on GeekyLibrary. The stories in this experimental sci-fi book 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. Read the full review on GeekyLibrary.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hanscom

    I really enjoyed this one -- as it "warns" in its cover blurb, it's neither a novel with a straightforward narrative, nor an anthology of self-contained short stories. It's more of a series of interconnected vignettes set at various points following some kind of event that shattered time and space, and often involving powerful AIs. Not easy to describe, but just the kind of experimental weirdness that works well for me, and a lot of really neat concepts dealing with time, artificial intelligence I really enjoyed this one -- as it "warns" in its cover blurb, it's neither a novel with a straightforward narrative, nor an anthology of self-contained short stories. It's more of a series of interconnected vignettes set at various points following some kind of event that shattered time and space, and often involving powerful AIs. Not easy to describe, but just the kind of experimental weirdness that works well for me, and a lot of really neat concepts dealing with time, artificial intelligence, consciousness, and more. My first four-star rating from this year's P.K. Dick nominees.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tantra Bensko

    I read this book in March 2014 and the experienced stopped me in my tracks at Goodreads as I wasn't ready to write a review for it yet and I kept postponing. I wanted it to be a thorough review, because it's such a fantastic book. I've recommended it widely to people, especially if they're interested in innovative SF that experiments with form, is something unique. So, I'm going to let go of my great review plans and just say -- it's absolutely fantastic. People should really read this one, if a I read this book in March 2014 and the experienced stopped me in my tracks at Goodreads as I wasn't ready to write a review for it yet and I kept postponing. I wanted it to be a thorough review, because it's such a fantastic book. I've recommended it widely to people, especially if they're interested in innovative SF that experiments with form, is something unique. So, I'm going to let go of my great review plans and just say -- it's absolutely fantastic. People should really read this one, if any one. It's a classic.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    Le daría 3,5 estrellas. Esperaba una prosa mucho más elaborada, eso me ha desilusionado un poco, pero en líneas genrales me ha gustado. No me atrevería a recomendarlo: no es un libro para todo el mundo, ni siquiera para todos los fans de CF. Recoge veinte historias muy desiguales: hay CF hard, relatos absurdos, surrealismo, y Weird doméstico… Apto para el que busque un texto que se salga de los cánones, y que explore conceptos filosóficos, culturales y científicos.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rich Boulton

    A fascinating read. It's definitely a single narrative despite the common propensity to compare it to a collection of short stories, it's just not a simple, linear narrative. Essentially it takes a bunch of difficult ideas such as altering the past and forgoes the usual arbitrary rules and omissions that writers make so that they can tell a single, clear story. A fascinating read. It's definitely a single narrative despite the common propensity to compare it to a collection of short stories, it's just not a simple, linear narrative. Essentially it takes a bunch of difficult ideas such as altering the past and forgoes the usual arbitrary rules and omissions that writers make so that they can tell a single, clear story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ian Mond

    Not really a novel, not really a short story collection, but something in between. A mosaic novel, maybe? It doesn't really matter, the point is that Self Reference Engine is this heady mix of hard SF and surrealism. It takes the notion of the multiverse and pokes and prods at it until the very concept becomes both unremarkable and nonsensical. Its also very funny. Not really a novel, not really a short story collection, but something in between. A mosaic novel, maybe? It doesn't really matter, the point is that Self Reference Engine is this heady mix of hard SF and surrealism. It takes the notion of the multiverse and pokes and prods at it until the very concept becomes both unremarkable and nonsensical. Its also very funny.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Puti

    読み中。 時間や空間の定義の仕方というか 考え方が非常にユニークであり、古典的な面もあり楽しい。 終わったら評価含めて再度更新。

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hiroaki

    .

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Peaks of quality Sunk in inconsistency - Unique nonetheless.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    “时间们忽然厌倦了汇聚成一束前进,于是便随意去往了各个自己想去的方向。不巧的是,因为时间中的一切事物都栖息在时间里,自然承受不了那样的随意。”这算是接下来发生的20个非线性联系的故事的预告——进化到一定阶段的巨型智慧体导致了某“破坏性事件”,时间好像不再是线性的了。物理不及格的我无法准确概括本书主要内容,只想感叹翻译本书的人真是太不容易了。

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nick Reno

    DNF. It seems like this book was designed to be as incomprehensible as possible. The lack of any sort of continuity or common thread killed it for me. Some of the stories were really compelling, but then they just ended abruptly with no attempt at resolution of any kind. Good concepts dropped like a hot potato as soon as they got near comprehensibility. I liked the one about the Japanese language, and the one about the self-replicating town, and the 22 dead Freuds. Of course, as soon as those got DNF. It seems like this book was designed to be as incomprehensible as possible. The lack of any sort of continuity or common thread killed it for me. Some of the stories were really compelling, but then they just ended abruptly with no attempt at resolution of any kind. Good concepts dropped like a hot potato as soon as they got near comprehensibility. I liked the one about the Japanese language, and the one about the self-replicating town, and the 22 dead Freuds. Of course, as soon as those got interesting, we moved on to dry theoretical physics again. Maybe I don't have the science background to enjoy this book fully, but I think even if I was well up on current academics, I would dislike the strange plotting and abrupt tonal shifts.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aiping

    Interesting book, although some parts are very difficult to understand.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marc Bertin

    Interesting read. Can be difficult to follow at times, but I enjoyed it thoroughly through and for all it's quirks. Interesting read. Can be difficult to follow at times, but I enjoyed it thoroughly through and for all it's quirks.

  20. 4 out of 5

    A. H.

    DNF @44%

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    This was a fun collection of sci-fi short stories. It contains a reference to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. There were a couple of moments in this book that I thought were subtly funny. I'm glad I found within Japanese literature an instance of the kind of Sci-Fi I grew up reading. This was a fun collection of sci-fi short stories. It contains a reference to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. There were a couple of moments in this book that I thought were subtly funny. I'm glad I found within Japanese literature an instance of the kind of Sci-Fi I grew up reading.

  22. 5 out of 5

    T.F.

    A very different kind of book. Completely non linear and fragmented. It is kind of surreal. So you don't know what is real, what is imagined. There is a main thread of the paradoxes of going back in time and altering events. That is the self reference. Every chapter seems like an independent vignette and it kind of ties in at the end. At a broad level, it is the story of war between humans and computers. But then you are not really sure who is fighting who. The book is quite philosophical in a m A very different kind of book. Completely non linear and fragmented. It is kind of surreal. So you don't know what is real, what is imagined. There is a main thread of the paradoxes of going back in time and altering events. That is the self reference. Every chapter seems like an independent vignette and it kind of ties in at the end. At a broad level, it is the story of war between humans and computers. But then you are not really sure who is fighting who. The book is quite philosophical in a mathematical sense in the tradition of the Greek philosophers. You know trying to put investigations into purpose of life as Mathematical postulations and trying to solve for it. This is not really a story. It is more of an experience. I guess I need to read it again sometime to fully appreciate it

  23. 5 out of 5

    The Great Dan Marino

    A mindfuck, no doubt. Does need to be considered as a whole, as (IMO) a novel about the giant corpora of knowledge, though some of the chapters read as great short stories (others don't). A lotta concepts here require a ton of exposition, and it's incredibly difficult for him to do that expository work while remaining narratively satisfying. Still, mostly he does (bogs down a little in the final quarter). Won't even pretend to firmly grasp the novel, the timelines, the tech etc, but could see+en A mindfuck, no doubt. Does need to be considered as a whole, as (IMO) a novel about the giant corpora of knowledge, though some of the chapters read as great short stories (others don't). A lotta concepts here require a ton of exposition, and it's incredibly difficult for him to do that expository work while remaining narratively satisfying. Still, mostly he does (bogs down a little in the final quarter). Won't even pretend to firmly grasp the novel, the timelines, the tech etc, but could see+enjoy numerous connections. Helps that the writing is accomplished--worthy prose and a really good sense of the art re pacing, momentum, and implication. Never read anything like it and the pleasures were considerable.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rod Van Meter

    I have few words to describe how good this book is. I have fewer still to describe *what* it is. What it is, is mind-bending. It's one those books where, when you get deeply involved in the book, you have reorient yourself to the real world when you take your eyes off of it. You would not be at all surprised, when you look up, to find that History, technology, and perhaps even the laws of physics had changed while you weren't looking. And Terry Gallagher's translation is pitch-perfect. It's hard t I have few words to describe how good this book is. I have fewer still to describe *what* it is. What it is, is mind-bending. It's one those books where, when you get deeply involved in the book, you have reorient yourself to the real world when you take your eyes off of it. You would not be at all surprised, when you look up, to find that History, technology, and perhaps even the laws of physics had changed while you weren't looking. And Terry Gallagher's translation is pitch-perfect. It's hard to believe this wasn't written in English directly.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rustus

    Half of the stories I would rate at 5. and the rest at 1, thus the mean rating of 3 stars.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Steven Werber

    This book may be brilliant but it was well over my head. Torturous and unpleasant to read though some of the themes are interesting.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Páez

    Es lo más raro que he leído en MUCHO, MUCHO tiempo. Surrealista se queda corto.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Max Cantor

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paulus D

  30. 5 out of 5

    ADAM

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.