SFF Writer & Translator

Dual talents: Anton Hur both translates a new work and writes his own novel.

Hur, Anton. Toward Eternity. HarperVia. Jul. 2024. 256p. ISBN 9780063344488. $26.99. SF

Hur, often award-nominated for his enthralling translations from Korean, crafts his own novel that is intensely focused on the power of language. It begins with a disappearance. New technology can replace human cells with nanites, saving people from life threatening diseases and, potentially, granting immortality. The second person to undergo this nanodroid process lives for decades, until the day he vanishes between one step and the next. A scientist who’s intimately tied to this research begins to investigate, hiding her observations in a notebook. From then on, the characters skip across countless years, recording stories of their conflicts with technology, identity, and poetry as they pass the notebook along. Their struggles coalesce into a moving, philosophical exploration of what it means to be alive. Hur asks whether the self can exist beyond biology and memory, whether souls can be made rather than born, and whether the most enduring part of humanity might be as ethereal a concept as love. VERDICT Hur’s thought-provoking novel will appeal to readers who love gripping metaphysical science fiction, such as Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Memory or Robert J. Sawyer’s Calculating God.

Kim, Sung-il. Blood of the Old Kings. Tor. Oct. 2024. 368p. tr. from Korean by Anton Hur. ISBN 9781250895332. $27.99. FANTASY

Loran’s quest for vengeance and liberation leads her to a seven-eyed dragon’s volcano. Cain’s investigation into his friend’s death ensnares him in deadly conspiracies involving spies and assassins. Arienne escapes her sorcery school, armed only with a sleep spell, knowledge gleaned from adventure novels, and a menacing voice in her head. Kim masterfully weaves together their stories, which each embody a different style of fantasy, creating an immersive, thorough world that’s sparking towards war. The characters are unwilling subjects of a conquering empire that excuses its violence by claiming it offers the gifts of peace and civilization. Though the empire’s technology, which draws its energy from the corpses of sorcerers, seems far too strong for the last vestiges of hidden magic, Loran, Cain, and Arienne are caught in the momentum of destiny. The trio do come into contact, but each arc remains its own and comes to a satisfying conclusion. VERDICT Readers will crave further works from Kim after reading his English-language debut, the first in a trilogy. While waiting for the next installment, suggest Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Tainted Cup, Shannon Chakraborty’s The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi, and Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education for a similar experience.

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