The Country of the Young

“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 (!)

One thought on “The Country of the Young

  1. Recently I was feeling sort of depressed, restless and annoyed about life in general when I found your short story “The Country of the Young.” That plunged me into a worse depression.

    It changed the way I look at Korea, perhaps forever. I felt it was too credible. I identified the character Jiah with my daughter, feeling that she could easily live in the society you portrayed after she grows up.

    Somehow that story was too chillingly realistic. The way you portrayed the omnipresent technophilia. The immense power of the Chaebol and its likely usurpation of the state’s social functions.

    What I genuinely admired was the way you deployed with the political ideologies in the biotech-dominated society. For example, the idea that after NK is absorbed by the south, that Juche will become a genuinely subversive ideology of anticapitalist resistance instead of a cult of worshipping the state.

    What is even more interesting is your projection of today’s contemporary patterns of social stratification onto a future in which the aging process itself will become a basis of stratification, rather than money itself…

    Actually, the story left me wishing for additional stories set in the same universe but with different characters. A whole book perhaps even. That would plunge me into even greater misery but very intriguing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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