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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Breathing in, Juho picked up a faint scent of dust in the night air. Then, he breathed out. Lit by one, single star, the night sky in front of his apartment was no different from the one he had seen through the window in his room.
Because it was well into the night, there weren’t any pedestrians around, as far as Juho could tell anyway. There was a cat underneath a pickup truck on the opposite side of street, its eyes shining brightly in the dark, and a street light in the distance blinked repeatedly. Quietly watching the orange light fading, Juho took his phone out, and as if not fond of what he was doing, the cat disappeared. He checked the time. It would be just past 10 a.m where the person in Juho’s mind lived. He called a number on his phone. Then, after waiting for a while, a coarse voice answered, “What do you want?”
At that, Juho knew immediately that he had called the right number. It was Kelley Coin.
“How’ve you been?”
“Not well,” Coin answered immediately, getting to the point ahead of Juho. “What? You wanted to show off being nominated for the Hugo Award after the Annular Award?” he asked, sounding as crabby as ever. He sounded like he was genuinely displeased by the news.
“You have a quick ear.”
“Hmph. I hear everything, whether I want to or not. Thanks to my editor, Isabella, who wouldn’t stop talking about it. Groundbreaking this and that.”
Yun Woo had become an internationally-recognized author at the mere age of nineteen, and it was quite the groundbreaking achievement, to say the least. To others, he was moving up in the world at a dangerous pace. However, in hindsight, he had simply come too far. Juho still remembered every single one of his past failures vividly, even at that point. The fact that there were still a whole slew of failures to go through was simply astounding. Then, remembering the two people who had turned him down, Juho asked Coin, “Aren’t you going to congratulate me?”
“For what? You haven’t even won yet.”
“Does that mean you will when I do win?”
“Not a chance.”
Of course. Kelley Coin. Congratulating someone. It would make for a terrifying nightmare.
“Just get to the point.”
“Could you be my representative at the award ceremony?” Juho asked, getting to the point just as he was asked to, and there was silence.
“You want me to do be your what?” Coin asked, dumbfounded.
“You know, nobody’s had the guts to ask me something like that until now.”
Considering who he was, that just made sense. He was none other than the infamous Kelley Coin. Thankfully, Juho was far enough away from him that his fists couldn’t reach. Staring intently at the star shining brightly in the distance, Juho said, “I never had to wake up in the middle of the night for an interview either.”
“… So you’re keeping score, huh?”
“I’d rather you see it as me not wanting to be rejected.”
“Enough beating around the bush. Is this a trade or a favor?”
The savage-like attitude transferred directly to Juho through his phone’s receiver. At which point, Juho raised his hand in surrender.
“A favor, of course.”
There was no such a thing as a fair trade with Kelley Coin.
“Sure. I don’t have a reason to say no.”
Thankfully, Juho had gotten the answer he had been looking for. However, it was unexpected.
‘I thought he would at least curse me out for a while before saying yes,’ Juho thought.
Then, snickering ominously Coin said, “Oh, you’ll regret asking me for that favor.”
At that, Juho felt a wave of worry wash over him. However, he decided to stick with it all the way through.
“Go easy on me now. Oh, and don’t forget to attend both ceremonies. For the Annular and the Hugo Awards.”
“… Prick,” Coin let out, obviously annoyed and irritated. Then, what sounded like a person drinking something echoed from Juho’s receiver. Needless to say, it was coffee. “Do you have any idea how many publishers show up to those ceremonies? Oh, and all those photo sessions, posing with the award, looking like an idiot. But you know what’s worse? The Hugo Award ceremony! You’ll find all sort of science fiction freaks there, and it’s the loudest, noisiest award ceremony there is.”
The Hugo Award ceremony was also the highlight of the largest, yearly science fiction event of the World Science Fiction Society. It was a festival where both celebrities and officials from around the world came together, along with other members of the society and the readers. Upon being asked by Juho about the atmosphere of the ceremony, Coin vomited a number of complaints, “It’s utter chaos. There are people dancing in one corner and lectures being delivered on the other, all the while there’s a signing event taking place in yet another corner. It’s a mess. Oh, and there will be plenty of people, swinging their lightsabers around,” Coin said, adding that there were also people dressed up as aliens, painted green from head to toe.
“That sounds like fun.”
“If you’re there to have fun, then sure, it’s all fun and games. For the VIPs, it’s a place for mind games, at best. They disguise themselves as social, but they’re really talking about their businesses. Who talks about work at a party!?”
“Well, what about the losers’ party?”
“Are you asking ME about the losers’ party?”
“You know, I just regretted asking that myself.”
There was nothing sillier than asking Kelley Coin about “the losers’ party,” which was a gathering of authors who had failed to win an award.
“You’ve won the Hugo Award… four times, now? Is that right?”
“That’s right. Although, I’ve never achieved the Double Crown.”
“… A-ha! So, that’s why you’re so bitter.”
“I’m just telling the truth is all!”
Although he was undoubtedly the most representative author of the US, winning both the Annular and Hugo Awards four times each, he had never won both awards simultaneously. It wasn’t that the books that had won the awards hadn’t been popular. He simply hadn’t had the best of luck with the Double Crown, and there were all sorts of rumors surrounding that phenomenon. Some even claimed that Coin’s relationship with the executive director had something to do with it, that the director had subtly prevented the author from winning once their relationship had turned sour. Others claimed that it had to do with his speeches reflecting negatively on the integrity of the awards, getting on the bad side of the committees. Juho found both theories to be quite convincing.
“Well, if those ceremonies are the types that wouldn’t let you have the Double Crown, then that says enough about them.”
“… Ha!” a burst of loud laughter, like the one Juho had heard in the middle of the night after waking up for a phone interview, sounded from Juho’s receiver.
“What’s so funny?”
“That was a perfect opportunity to talk yourself up, yet you blew it. You moron, do you realize that you just wasted the opportunity of your lifetime?”
In many aspects, Kelley Coin was much closer to obtaining the Double Crown, and Juho would have been making a fool of himself if he were to rave about his nominations. For example, Coin had adjectives attached to his name such as ‘infamous.’ As Juho let out a sigh, Coin said, “I see what the four major, internationally-recognized literary awards mean to you.”
“… Well, an award is an award.”
“No, an award is never just an award. It’s honor. It’s wealth. And it’s your work. You should know this yourself. Your books have been selling a lot more since you were nominated, right?”
Yes, they had.
“If you were to win, and achieve the Double Crown on top of that, the world would do everything they could to find out who you are, down to analyzing every single word choice of yours.”
“That sounds terrifying.”
“For a kid like you, who has no regard for authority, it should be fine.”
No matter how many times Juho explained himself on his view of authority, Coin didn’t listen. In the end, leaving off with the words “be prepared,” Coin hung up without hesitation. Then, Juho lowered his phone and looked up at the sky.
“Oh, another one.”
There was yet another, even smaller star next to what had appeared to be the only star shining in the night sky. It looked a lot like an ornament on a crown. Then, looking at it until his eyes adjusted to the darkness, Juho made his way back home with the image still lingering before his eyes.
In a plane flying across the dark, night sky, Nabi was the only one with her eyes open. Her heart was pounding, and her hands, soaking wet. She was on her way to the Annular Award ceremony, where science fiction writers all around the world came together. Authors whose worldwide sales were in the tens of millions were gathering for the ceremony in order to win the award, and Yun Woo was one of the nominated.
Burying her face in both of her hands, she screamed silently. Although she had had her share of commotion previously at home, the excitement still remained. The author she was working with had been summoned by one of the four major, internationally-recognized literary awards. She couldn’t have dreamed that a day like that would come, and the thought of attending the ceremony while hoping for someone to win the award was enough to keep her up. Then, placing her hands on her chest, she felt the faster-than-usual heart rate on her palm.
‘OK, I need to calm down,’ she thought to herself, taking deep breaths while thinking about Kelley Coin, who she was about to meet just after sunrise. She was well aware of his infamous reputation, and being in her field of work, it was nearly impossible not to hear about the author’s personality.
‘I was hoping I wouldn’t have to get involved in anything with him.’
Despite her wish, Yun Woo had asked the nightmarish author to attend the ceremony on his behalf.
“Sigh,” Nabi let out and opened her laptop. Although she had initially thought about putting on some music, after some brief contemplation, she changed her mind and opened her emails instead. The inbox was full of congratulatory messages from publishing agents all around the world. After reading for a little while, she moved her mouse a few times, and the screen became filled with countless articles and videos regarding Yun Woo.
Interest in the Annular Award had grown incomparably from the previous year in Korea. Despite having never heard of it before, people were going wild by the birth of an internationally-recognized author. A national hero. The books written by the young author by the name of Yun Woo had been translated into various languages and were spreading throughout the world. Experienced with reading overseas novels that had been translated into Korean, fans found this phenomenon to be strangely cathartic. Everyone was united in their hearts in wanting Yun Woo to win the Annular Award. The members of the science fiction/fantasy novel cafes, who were secretly active both on and offline, expressed their joy in their respective cafes as the world was finally coming around in their favor. Consequently, posts like that were often quoted in news articles. In order to know just how incredible of an author Yun Woo was, people searched and interacted with as much information as possible.
Nabi clicked an icon on the screen in order to access the comment section, which was already filled with people saying how proud they were. The simple fact that the young author had been nominated was massive. The author had managed to create history. Now, no matter who people asked, or no matter which website they used to do their research, Yun Woo was the youngest nominee of the Annular Award, and ‘Language of God,’ the first Asian novel to be nominated. However, Nabi was fully aware that, should he fail to receive the award, the proud fans wouldn’t hesitate to criticize their favorite author.
Due to her occupation, Nabi had met countless authors: those who waved their fists at the unacceptable critiques, those who went into a slump when complimented, those who wrote, fueled by their anger toward the harsh criticism directed at them, and finally, those who fell away. There existed all sorts of authors in this world. What did that mean for Yun Woo? Every piece of writing of his was incredible. His stable, yet pure and controlled style of writing brought out everything there was to know about this world. He was skilled in all aspect, from a story that takes place in a restricted space to an enormous, gigantic world. He knew how to use sentences filled with reason, like a detective, as well as rigid, strictly-structured sentences. Whenever Nabi thought of the young author, she was reminded of a pair of wings and the tale of Icarus, who plummeted into the sea after ignoring the warnings of his father not to fly too close to the Sun. While he was an immature son, he was also a fearless hero. However, despite the young author’s age, Nabi couldn’t imagine him being fearful of something. ‘If he doesn’t get the award, how will he react?’ There was no way to know.
What she did know was that she wanted Yun Woo’s wings to remain intact, without them being melted away by the Sun, so that he could soar just a little higher and fly just a little longer.
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