“The Country of the Young” appeared in Interzone 219, in November 2008.If you missed the print edition, Interzone 219 is available as an eMagazine at Fictionwise.
This was the third full story I drafted at Clarion West, for the week when Nalo Hopkinson was our instructor.
(And both Nalo’s and the class’s comments, and some discussion of the biology of aging with my classmate Guy Immega, were a great help to me.)
I’d long been thinking of writing a story set in a post-reunification, corporate-annexed North Korea. A theme I’d intended to work with earlier ended up being set aside, in advance, for the next story I planned to write at the workshop, but that worked out well because it gave me a chance to explore themes in the corporatized North: politics and class, immigration, the glitchiness of life-extension technology and its effect on future immigration, intercultural relationships, and more.
Also, I decided to work very literally with a comment made by Maureen McHugh a few weeks earlier, but I won’t say more as it’s a spoiler for the story.
Reviews and Comments:
“… distinctly my favorite piece in the issue… Sellar has done a superb job on every count. The characters and setting feel alive, three-dimensional, and absolutely convincing. From these, the plot grows naturally—absorbing, meaningful, and free of contrivance. And detail is handled perfectly, showing real-life richness and complexity without ever getting bogged down, and without ever leaving the reader missing crucial information. Kudos, Mr. Sellar, for an excellent story.” — Ziv Wities @ The Fix.
“a sombre tale rich in detail, and a convincing look at how someone can be driven to the extremes of mass murder. Good stuff.” — Lawrence Conquest @ The Barking Dog
“A very realistic depiction of what a growing age difference would do to a marriage, set in a chillingly believable universe.” — Aliette de Bodard (!)
But my forthcoming works list only includes one piece, which is enough to get me back on track for submitting again. I have some poems and a few stories ready to send out now. (Currently in the “send” pile are “Realer,” “The Incident of the Imo Year,” and “Alone With Gandhari,” along with a few poems.)
As for my WIP, I backed off from “A Killing in Burma” (the yeast is set but the dough is rising slow) so it’s “Ten Spikes and a Hammer,” an alternate-WWII story involving, well, geomancy. It’s coming along. It’s been sitting, languishing at almost-finished for a long, long time, and finally I busted through and got to the end, so now I’m going to try pare off 20% of the text, partly as an exercise in paring/focusing/sharpening, and partly because it makes it much more saleable. I think I’m going to experiment a little bit too, with this impressionistic effect I’m going for in certain scenes. Experimentation: it’s dangerous, but also might be the most effective way to get across what’s happening certain scenes. Anyway, I’ll try it out and see, since I’ll have older drafts on hand if impressionism fails me. And then, out it goes!
But for today, I have some work-related editing to do, and a pile of midterm essays for which my marking duties are somewhat alarmingly overdue. Time to wander across campus with a flask of coffee and see how much a guy can get done in half a day of focused work.
- For those of you in the UK, the December 2008 issue of InterZone, containing my story “Country of the Young,” is now on shelves in the UK. It’s the first in a projected series of tales set in a future North Korea. The best future North Korea I can imagine, in fact. This one’s a train wreck of love, ideology, immigration, and biotech. It’s not available online, but it’s mentioned very positively in this review at The Fix.
- StarShipSofa put out a great podcast my story “Dhuluma No More.” (Forthcoming: an interview, and a podcast of “Lester Young and the Jupiter’s Moons’ Blues.” Both of these stories first appeared in Asimov’s SF.) If you’d like to read them, Fictionwise carries copies of both July ’08 issue (for “Lester Young…”) and the Oct/Nov ’08 issue (for “Dhuluma”), plus tons of other great fiction by people to whom I would bow deeply if I met them in person.
- My most recent publication, “Wonjjang and the Madman of Pyongyang,” is now available as part of the annual Canadian speculative fiction anthology Tesseracts Twelve. It’s a story of the personal and professional travails of the Korean leader of an international team of superheroes working in South Korea. It was included in Rich Horton’s recommended reading in the November issue of Locus, and highlighted in his review of the book.
- I published an article over at Clarkesworld on the role of SF memes and tropes in the Korean beef protests of summer 2008, titled, “How Candle Girl and V Took on 2MB.”
- My fall installment of my column XY appeared in Cahoots magazine, asking, “Why are Women More Religious?” (Yeah, yeah, on average, not every woman, I know!) Follow the link for some sociobiology-informed musings, nothing more.
- I presented this paper on culture, politics, and aesthetics of Korean SF cinema at the 4th International Congress of Korean Studies in September.
That’s a busy two months, really! Sadly, I have very little forthcoming after this, so it’s time to get back to writing, I guess!
The podcast of my story “Dhuluma No More” (from Asimov’s Oct/Nov. 2008) is now live at Starship Sofa. Check out the website — he’s got tons of excellent stories by others, including, last week, one of my favorite authors, Bruce Sterling — but feel free to download the podcast directly from here. The podcast has some other excellent content besides my story — including a fantastic piece (of a piece?) called “How We Did It, Or, Orson Welles and the Pickle Jar of Doom” by Lawrence Santoro, a short story by Bertram Chandler, some poetry by Mikal Trimm, a book review including discussion of Richard Morgan, a chunk of SF history by Amy Sturgis, and more…As for “Dhuluma No More,” I’m very happy with how it turned out. The narration by David Munger is excellent, and I appreciate the work he and Tony put in to bring my story to life. (And thanks, Tony, for saying all kinds of embarrassingly flattering things about me.)
For those of you who couldn’t get your hands on the story in Asimov’s, this is a great way to check it out. (And keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming podcast of “Lester Young and the Jupiter’s Moons’ Blues” from the same place!)