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PiFan Book Fair: SF/Fantasy/Horror/Thriller novels and Magazines… in Korean!

This entry is part 7 of 70 in the series SF in South Korea

Well, I was told I could pick up my tickets at the ticket booth today, but of course, I couldn’t. Somehow, though, I ended up at City Hall and noticed a huge display of books and magazines near the ticket booth. It turned out to be the biggest collection of Korean SF, thriller, suspense, and horror novels I’ve ever seen.

I had already picked up some of the books, but I still managed to grab the following titles (in translation) for Lime:

(UPDATE: When I went back to get a bunch more issues of Fantastique, I also got her:

… all of which are books I have yet to read myself, but am planning to get to in the next couple of years. I’ll try time it so we can read — or at least finish — a few of them at the same time, so I can hear her reaction while the book is fresh in my mind.)
It probably says a lot how gratified I was that she immediately took an interested in I, Robot — moreso when I noted it’s the short stories, not a novelization of the (uhm…) film. And it probably says even more about me how, when she asked which other book would be interesting, if not the Asimov, I could recommend Banks’ Consider Phlebas, and a collection of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness and several of his more famous Cthulhu-cycle stories. But finally, she opted to read the (also excellent) Michael Blumlein collection The Brains of Rats. Being that he’s an M.D., his first few paragraphs in the story-as-medical journal article, “Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Report” hooked her.

(Little does she know the patient is a criminal on death row who is about to be taken apart without any anaesthetic, each different part of his body becoming the source material for mile-long sheets of regenerated tissue for experimental, medical, industrial, and agricultural use!

(Maybe she’ll be back to Asimov by tomorrow…)

I also picked up three issues of the (newish — it’s been running since May 2007) Korean SF magazine Fantastique (here’s the magazine’s website), which I’ve added to my blogroll), which an expat online named Dale very thoughtfully mentioned to me in a conversation when he contacted me (via Facebook) after reading my work in Asimov’s. I got all the issues with stories by듀나 (Djuna) in them, mostly because once I mentioned I was familiar with that author, one of the salesgirls went and got every magazine containing Djuna’s stories. However, flipping through them, I noticed there’s about three original works by Korean authors, along with some translations. I’m thinking of picking up some more back issues, and maybe subscribing. (I picked up back issues — those available) If there’s any way I can get myself to start studying and reading Korean again, it’ll be by convincing myself to try read one or two of those short stories a month, and some of the short stories and the manhwa (manga) in these mags are manageable enough in length for me to consider it possible, if slightly insane.

And I got a novel-and-stories collection by 듀나 (Djuna) titled “용의 이”  (Dragon’s Tooth, I’m guessing that is, though the cover has spacemen and stuff on it — it’s the illustration for one of the stories, is why.) The short stories I’m more hopeful about than the novel from which the book title is taken. (Hundreds of pages in Korean text plain scare me; tens or dozens just make me feel ridiculously small, and fuel my desire to fight my way through it bit by bit.) The short stories have amusing titles like “Where’s Your Daddy?” and “The King of China” (the ilustration for which suggests it is a ghost story). Of course, they’re probably all in the issues of Fantastique I have already, but that’s okay: it was a twelve thousand won (I just say twelve bucks) hardback with lovely illustrations, and some academic-looking essays and commentary on Djuna’s work, and a short afterword in the back. All in all, a great deal.

Anyway, if anyone’s going to PiFan and has a hankering or desire to pick up some SF, fantasy (I saw Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana, among others), or thriller novels in Korean translation, or originals by Korean authors, stop by Bucheon City Hall. They’ll give you a nice bag and a fan and a drink, too, while they have ’em. Don’t forget to chat with the friendly floor staff, if you’re so inclined: I met a young guy (an aspiring novelist in the thriller genre) who quite happily chatted with me (mostly in Korean) about the state of novice and midlist genre publishing in Korea, which, by the way, is very internet heavy. The impression I got was: get some short stuff into webzines, then get the novel manuscript ready, and then approach publishers with a novel manuscript. Not so different from how we do it, except we still have print magazines — their big print mag is still new. (I’ll post more about Fantastique once I’ve looked through a few issues a little more closely.) Maybe I’ll have more to say about that if we talk again: we’ll see… he’s supposed to be emailing me so we can have a look at one another’s published writing.

On another note, for those interested, I just received all the DVDs I ordered, which means I’ve got everything I’ll be needing to pull images or video clips from except the film Yesterday, which I’ll be getting next week. That’s right, I now own copies of:


That is, in addition to Natural City and The Host and 2009: Lost Memories, which I already had on hand. (I have other stuff that some might want to include in the category, which which are more horror or fantasy than SF, and are thus excluded.)
It’s kind of sad that none of those were (legally) available within Korea. It’s nice, though, that being the case, that they were obtainable outside the country, though, and now that I have them (almost) all on hand, I will finally be (re-starting) my series of posts on Korean SF. I’d better, since I have to turn in my paper for Fukuoka by the end of August!

By the way, I also got a copy of Somtow Sucharitkul‘s Ayodhya, an operatic treatment of the Ramakian (ie. the Thai version of the Ramayana) which some of you may remember as that opera that the Thai government censored in 2006, ostensibly for superstitious reasons. (You may not know that the composer is also a famous SF/fantasy/horror author.) And the guy knows how to write music like nobody’s business. He’s also made the Bangkok Opera a world attraction.

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