The first thriller novel by Chung Bora, the author who has garnered attention in Korea and around the world after being shortlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2022.
- Book Intro
NSTRA-14, the advent of the most perfect painkiller. Non-addictive, and no side effects. The new universal painkiller switches the whole paradigm of pain. But when pain goes away, pain is pursued again. Claiming that pain is what makes humans human, ”Order,” a new religion, launches a series of terrorist attacks against pharmaceutical companies. In the end, the pharmaceutical company located near the lake shut down. Subsequently, detectives are dispatched to investigate the area, only to experience harrowing hallucinations including visions of corpses and crumbling ground. Upon regaining consciousness, the detectives find an illegal drug manufacturing facility, along with Han, who has been hiding since his release from police custody. Although Han strongly protests his innocence, and Tae believes him, there is abundant evidence that points to Han as the culprit. The detectives decide to lock him up at the police station.
Right before a tornado strikes, the fourth murder victim is found. It is Han, in the lockup. The security cameras stopped working for just three minutes, and no one approached his cell before or after the three-minute period. In shock, the police go through every single frame of footage and track every single person there. Everyone’s alibi holds—except for one. Yeop, Tae’s psychiatrist.
Just as they are rewinding the footage that captured Yeop, the tornado hits the area and the electricity goes out. The building shakes and the windows shatter, making ominous noises. After a while, the tornado passes, and the power comes back on. But Yeop is nowhere to be found.
Tae recalls his childhood. When he grew up in a cottage by the lake, he sometimes went out to the lake at night and watched the will-o' the-wisp, which glowed beautifully and beckoned to him. The light beyond physical suffering. Tae finally realizes that the will-o' the-wisp was Yeop, who was also the sect leader and an alien; and that Yeop deviated from the religious doctrine to execute heresy by himself to make up for his past behavior as the religious leader …
Gyeong and Hyeon fly back after the tornado. Gyeong cannot confess to Hyeon that she slept with Tae to see whether sex with someone who knew pain could help her understand the meaning of life. Her search has failed. Instead, Gyeong goes back to Hyeon and says she would like to have a baby, Hyeon’s baby. She also declares that she will not let the past pain hold her back, and she will instead move forward.
Yeop leaves Earth. He starts the engine of his spaceship, the impact of which turns the sky green and generates a tornado. He has established Order and caused numerous deaths, so he may not be able to come back ever. But another alien will be dispatched to Earth, and they will continue to study the pain and suffering of humankind …
- About the Author
(English) Bora Chung studied liberal arts at Yonsei University and earned her M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies from Yale University, and her Ph.D. in Slavic literature from Indiana University. As a Russian major, she fell in love with bizarre novels written by authors no one knew in Korea. She earned her M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies from Yale University, and her Ph.D. in Russian and Polish literature from Indiana University. She writes and translates science fiction and fantasy literature. She won the 3rd Digital Writers' Awards' Distinction Award in 2008 with her novella The Fox, and the 1st SF Awards with her short story The Seed. In 2022, she was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize.