The Korean conglomerate LK is creating an elevator into Earth’s orbit on the fictional island of Patusan, much to the displeasure of the Patusan people. This new hub of travel to and from our planet has turned their once quiet one-time stop tropical resort into a bustling gateway to the beyond. Originally planned to be a low-budget sci-fi movie, this antic novel features a maze of fake identities, neuro-implants, and political grievances from the Patusan Liberation Front. A dizzying but wonderful cyberpunk detective thriller which stories South Korea’s neocolonial ambitions and its effects not only on the colonized, but also the people working for Korea, and the world as a whole. Recommended By Aster A., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
For fans of the worlds of Philip K. Dick, Squid Game, and Severance: An absorbing tale of corporate intrigue, political unrest, unsolved mysteries, and the havoc wreaked by one company's monomaniacal endeavor to build the world's first space elevator — from one of South Korea's most revered science fiction writers, whose identity remains unknown.
On the fictional island of Patusan — and much to the ire of the Patusan natives — the Korean conglomerate LK is constructing an elevator into Earth's orbit, gradually turning this one-time tropical resort town into a teeming travel hub: a gateway to and from our planet. Up in space, holding the elevator's "spider cable" taut, is a mass of space junk known as the counterweight. And it's here that lies the key--a trove of personal data left by LK's former CEO, of dire consequence to the company's, and humanity's, future.
Racing up the elevator to retrieve the data is a host of rival forces: Mac, the novel's narrator and LK's Chief of External Affairs, increasingly disillusioned with his employer; the everyman Choi Gangwu, unwittingly at the center of Mac's investigations; the former CEO's brilliant niece and his power-hungry son; and a violent officer from LK's Security Division, Rex Tamaki — all caught in a labyrinth of fake identities, neuro-implant "Worms," and old political grievances held by the Patusan Liberation Front, the army of island natives determined to protect their sovereignty.
Conceived by Djuna as a low-budget science fiction film, with literary references as wide-ranging as Joseph Conrad and the Marquis de Sade, The Counterweight is part cyberpunk, part hardboiled detective fiction, and part parable of Korea's neocolonial ambition and its rippling effects.
"Zippy, cinematic...An antic, madcap noir with flair." — Kate Knibbs, Wired
"Djuna is a legend and a giant in Korean science fiction. Hur is a phenomenal translator. And Counterweight has everything. It is a fast-paced science fiction action thriller, a well-crafted mystery novel, and an absolutely captivating study of the complexity of human existence (physical or otherwise). A wild ride where both the author and the translator shine. I could not put down the book." — Bora Chung, author of Cursed Bunny (International Booker Prize finalist)
"[A] dizzyingly subversive cyberpunk thriller...In true Philip K. Dick style, Djuna serves up enough paranoia and clever ideas to keep you guessing." — Charlie Jane Anders, The Washington Post
About the Author
DJUNA is a novelist and film critic, and a former chair of the Korean Science Fiction Writers Union. For more than twenty years they have published as a faceless writer, refusing to reveal personal details regarding age, gender, or legal name. Widely considered to be one of South Korea's most important science fiction writers, Djuna has published ten short-story collections and five novels.
ANTON HUR was double-long-listed for the 2022 International Booker Prize and short-listed for his translation of Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung. He has also won PEN translation grants transatlantically and has taught at various institutions in both South Korea and abroad, including the National Centre for Writing in the U.K. He lives in Seoul.