- The Good: Heartfelt, optimistic, and mind-expanding scifi
- The Bad: Two of the four stories are follow-ups to the others, and while still good, they don’t pack the same punch
- The Literary: Extensive notes, including translators notes, that will make you appreciate the stories all the more
Four short stories encompassing two worlds traverse space, time, love, gods, and free will. One of South Korea’s successful science fiction writers showcases her expansive work in English for the first time.
In the first and fourth stories, “I’m Waiting for You” and “On My Way,” an engaged couple must each traverse the galaxy to ensure their relativistic timelines stay in sync until they both arrive back on Earth, but travel through space is also travel through time and minor incidents have large effects with relativity. Through a series of letters to each other, they chronicle the events that push back the wedding day, hoping the other won’t give up on them. I love the first of the these stories because the concept is new and the execution is surprisingly hopeful. The second of the two, a companion piece written years later, lacks the novelty and wonder, instead exploring more serious themes of classism and power, and it expertly fits within the constraints set by the first story.
The second and third stories, “The Prophet of Corruption” and “That One Life,” explore big life questions in a world wholly unlike our own. Immortal god-like beings split themselves, extend their will, and create offspring. They send their offspring to the Lower Realm, a place of mortality, where they can live a life, whether human or animal or insect, and bring their experiences back to the world of the gods, only remembering their immortality upon their return. Many of the oldest gods are teachers, prophets who purport differing philosophies of study, leisure, power, or suffering. When you are the same stuff of all the universe, what does individuality really mean? I love the first of these stories, which explores the bulk of the universe and the characters of import, as compared to the second of the two, which is a short little alternate-timeline extension.
Highly recommended for fans of science fiction with big ideas!