Readymade Bodhisattva: Arc Review

I was lucky enough to receive this book on NetGalley in return for an honest review. I wanted to read this book as (as I am sure you are aware by now) I study philosophy and Buddhism for my A Levels. The title refers to an enlightened being, which got me intrigued as to how this would play into the Sci-fi of this book.

Synopsis

Readymade Bodhisattva: The Kaya Anthology of South Korean Science Fiction presents the first book-length English-language translation of science and speculative fiction from South Korea, bringing together 13 classic and contemporary stories from the 1960s through the 2010s. From the reimagining of an Asimovian robot inside the walls of a Buddhist temple and a postapocalyptic showdown between South and North Korean refugees on a faraway planet to a fictional recollection of a disabled woman’s struggle to join an international space mission, these stories showcase the thematic and stylistic versatility of South Korean science-fiction writers in its wide array. At once conversant with the global science-fiction tradition and thick with local historical specificities, their works resonate with other popular cultural products of South Korea―from K-pop and K-drama to videogames, which owe part of their appeal to their pulsating technocultural edge and their ability to play off familiar tropes in unexpected ways.

Coming from a country renowned for its hi-tech industry and ultraspeed broadband yet mired in the unfinished Cold War, South Korean science fiction offers us fresh perspectives on global technoindustrial modernity and its human consequences. The book also features a critical introduction, an essay on SF fandom in South Korea, and contextualizing information and annotations for each story.

Review

This was the first time that I had read South Korean Sci-fi, and I feel like this was a good book to start with. I liked how each story started with both information about the author as well as context for the story so that the English reading reader could understand it better. I also liked the fact that the Korean titles were given as well as the translators, it felt like this book was delivering on what it had promised, and introduction for the west on South Korean literature.

They longed for a place they’d left behind even as their destinies drew them on toward and unknown world.

Along the Fragments of my Body by Bok Geo-il

The stories themselves were great, and I really like the stories, I felt that they were a lot more philosophical than the western sci-fi that I am used to (YAY!) and that they were a lot more profound. There was one story that was lost on me due to my lack of knowledge on the history of South Korea, but I feel like someone who has done more research may be able to appreciate it.

It’s hard to find the same hole you fell through.

Where Boats Go by Kim Jung-hyuk

Overall I am glad I read this book and wouldn’t rule out reading more South Korean Sci-fi in the future.

4 stars

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