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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
After landing at JFK Airport, Juho stretched as he walked out of the plane. His entire body felt stiff after being in the airplane for so long. Although the airport was brimming with people, Nam Kyung skillfully led Juho out of it.
“We should go out. Isabella’s waiting outside.”
Walking past the giant American flag at the airport, Juho followed his editor outside. The New York air felt somewhat different from the air in Korea, and as they saw the foreigners going about their ways on the streets, it dawned on Juho that he really was an outsider. The graffiti on the walls looked just like they did in the movies. The thunderous sound of engines roared in the sky. The plane flying across the sky seemed a lot bigger than usual. While the young author was looking around, Nam Kyung struck up a conversation with him, “Having fun?”
“Yeah. We really are in New York.”
“How is it?”
“Let’s just say that it feels like a big city.”
“That sounds about right. Shopping is just about the only thing there is to do around here,” the editor said, shaking his head and adding that he had never had a positive experience while visiting New York. It wasn’t clear whether it was the weather or the buildings around them, but the entire city seemed to have a grey tinge to it.
“There she is,” the editor said. When Juho looked forward, he saw Isabella leaning against her car, looking in their direction. Then, spotting them from the distance, she walked toward them.
“Welcome to the US,” she said light-heartedly, and Nam Kyung greeted her back in a slightly stiff English, “How have you been?”
“I’ve been well. Mr. Woo… or, uh… would it be better to call you Juho?”
“Yes, no need to be so formal.”
Then, being conscious of the people around her, she added, “It seems like you’ve been doing well yourself, Juho.”
She drove a British car. After putting his bags in the trunk, Juho entered the car and sat in the back seat, while Nam Kyung sat on the passenger’s side. Enjoying the comfortable ride, the young author looked out the window and watched the scenery roll by. Although the sights were unfamiliar, there was nothing that felt new because Juho was able to understand every word Isabella and Nam Kyung was saying in the car. Rather than a foreign country, it felt more like his first time visiting Myungdong. A yellow cab rushed passed them. Then, stopping at a red light, Isabella said, “We’re headed for Manhattan now, and you’ll be staying in Coin’s apartment there for the next three days.”
“Yes. You might as well get a look around while you’re in the States before you see Coin. After that, we’ll be on our way to his villa, which he uses as his studio. He should be back from Worldcon by the time we get there. Until then, you’re free to look around.”
Then, she added in a hurry,” Oh, one more thing. I’d like for you to understand that our schedule heavily reflects Coin’s opinions.”
After brief contemplation, Juho asked, “Do you think we can see the apartment building in Manhattan?”
“It’s a luxurious building that Coin bought for himself with the money he made from his books. I’m sure he means to ensure that his guests have a good time.”
At that, Juho was made certain that Coin was looking to show off his possessions and wealth.
“When we get to his villa, you’ll be able to meet Susan as well.”
Knowing that Susan had made appearances in a number of Coin’s books in various forms, Juho grew curious as to what she would be like in person.
“Is the villa luxurious too?”
“It’s a place known for corn plantations. You’ll see why he chose that place to write when we get there.”
From then on, Isabella took Juho and Nam Kyung around Manhattan, to Fifth Avenue and the St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“Well, how are you feeling? The Hugo Award Ceremony is just around the corner,” she asked, locking eyes with the young author through the mirror. Then, he cracked the window open slightly and said, “Not bad. Not bad at all.”
“You seem a lot calmer than I thought you would be. Are you expecting you’ll win?”
“If I were in your shoes, I’d be dancing up and down.”
“It’s too early to celebrate, isn’t it?”
“You’ll see what I mean once we get to the bookstore,” having a solid understanding of the characteristics of the Hugo Award, she said honestly. Similar to the time when Coin came out with his sophomore title after his debut title turned out to be a failure, Yun Woo was currently among the most prominent figures in the literary world. While everyone was wary of the young author on one hand, they were curious on the other. Whether they viewed him from a positive or negative perspective, it was undeniable that they were fixing their eyes on him.
“You, Mr. Woo, are a very strong candidate,” Isabella said. Many of her professional acquaintances shared a similar opinion.
Yet, with a shrug, the young author answered modestly, “You never know, just like how I had no idea that Kelley Coin would invite me to his house.”
“You got me there. I had no idea that you’d come to the States, either,” she said, studying Juho’s face. Unlike Coin, he was calm. He wasn’t in the habit of frowning or cheering out loud. He was quite the riveting person, and she thought to herself that Coin should learn to be more like the young author.
“If Coin were in my shoes, do you think he would’ve been going around telling people that he’d win?”
Though Isabella was caught off guard by the young author’s timely question, she was still able to respond with ease, “I’d say to the point of arrogance. He’d even go as far as telling people that it would be wrong for that trophy not to end up in his hands.”
“Well, I guess he’s earned the right to.”
Then, looking ahead, she added, “So have you.”
Much like Coin, Yun Woo was also a world-renowned author. However, the young author simply smiled quietly. Meanwhile, listening to their conversation, Nam Kyung read the articles that were turning up in real-time on his phone.
“The Double Crown! The Next Challenge of the First Asian Nebula Winner!”
“What is the Hugo Award? A Prestigious Literary Award Named After the President of a Famous American Magazine with a History of Half a Century.”
“Who Has Earned the Double Crown Thus Far? Will Yun Woo Be Able to Jump the Wall That Was Too High Even for Kelley Coin?”
“The Doubts of Critics Overseas. ‘How Was a Country Void of Support, Educational Facilities, and Investiment for Writers Able to Produce an Author Like Yun Woo? He’s Like a Bird That Came Down from the Sky. We Don’t Know Where He Came From or Where He’s Headed.”
“Yun Woo, the New Wave in the Literary World. His Future Trajectory. What Makes His Writing So Special?”
“The Ever-So-Controversial Writing Style of the Young Author. Split-Personality Theory, Proven To Be True? Critics Overseas Speak.”
“Yun Woo, a World-Renowned Author Who is Still in School. What’s He Got to Say? Where Is He? A Wave of International Media Floods South Korea. His Publisher Remains Silent.”
“‘Cast Your Votes!’ Who Will Be the Next Hugo Winner? A Closer Look at the Authors and Participants of Worldcon.”
“Team Korea Gets a Formal Invitation, but Where’s the Author? Reported to be Staying at a Hotel Nearby.”
“An Interview with Yun Woo’s Competing Nominee. ‘It’s an Honor Regardless of Who Wins. Come Join the Readers and Their Favorite Authors at Worldcon. You’re Missing Out!'”
“Kelley Coin Appears Again! Participating as a Representative. His Prediction?”
“‘I Don’t Care Who Wins. It’s None of My Business. Enough with the Same Old Questions.’ Photos of the Angry Author.”
“The Award Ceremony Just Around the Corner. Who Will Readers Vote for?”
“Man, I love Yun Woo.”
“If not Yun Woo, then who else? Just give it to him, already.”
“Yun Woo! Get that Hugo, man!”
“I love all geniuses that exist in this world, but among them, I love Yun Woo the most.”
“If he really ends up getting the Double Crown at nineteen, that will be a record that nobody will be able to break for at least another century.”
“I predict three centuries. His record will stand until God in ‘Language of God’ dies.”
“So proud of him! The fact that I even get to talk about something like this is unbelievable. It brings tears to my eyes whenever I think back on how science fiction has been received in Korea.”
“The unthinkable has happened.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way toward an author. That’s just amazing.”
“The Double Crown will really suit him well. I think Yun Woo has what it takes to carry that weight.”
“Whenever I read his books, I can’t help but struggle to find the adjective that sufficiently describes him. His writing is life-changing.”
“Maybe this is what it felt like to be living in the same age as Shakespeare.”
“I wish the entire world knew about him.”
“Commenting here after watching Taylor Sander’s special interview for the Hugo Ceremony. I think it’s worth watching if you wanna know more about the author.”
“I just saw it, too. He had a lot of subjective things to say, but they’ll remind you that Yun Woo never lets us down. There’s a translated version available, so go check it out.”
“I think it’d be more accurate to say that he’s an astounding specimen rather than just another translator who excels at subtle nuances when translating.”
“I don’t have to talk about how amazing his writing is, but it seems like he has a talent in translating, too. Sanders had a lot of good things to say about him.”
“Sanders is one of the most highly-acclaimed translators around, and yet, he had nothing but good things to say about Yun Woo’s translation.”
“‘I respect him.’ His own words. He said he respects Yun Woo not just as a writer, but as a translator, too.”
“So that’s what happens when your language skill is on overdrive.”
“When a genius pursues the path of music, they become the next Mozart. When they pursue art, they become the next Leonardo Da Vinci. When they pursue writing, though, I would say that they become Yun Woo. We’re reading novels written by a genius, people!”
“That’s a fancy way to put it. It makes me feel super privileged just reading his books. I definitely recognize Sanders and his works, but the fact that I get to read Yun Woo’s book in its original language is really something.”
“I really hope he keeps writing for a long time. I’d buy every single one of his books. I never second-guess myself when buying books.”
“Yun Woo is a marvelous author. He’s bound to be happy if he were to win.”
An avid science fiction fan participating in Worldcon was reading an article in a magazine. It had an exaggerated title that read, ‘The Chance Yun Woo Has of Achieving the Double Crown According to Taylor Sanders, the Translator of ‘Language of God.”
With the ballot before him, the fan was feeling conflicted. Six blank spaces. Five candidates. With the exception of the option to abstain from voting, all five candidates were excellent authors who had written excellent pieces of writing, which were considered to be the most outstanding science fiction fantasy novels of the last two years. Of course, the fan had read every single one of them, and not a single one had brought him disappointment. Because of fans like him, those five novels were able to make it all the way to the finals.
The fan pondered, thinking back on each and every one of the novels. Then, his eyes went to the magazine he had been reading. Frankly, he had been hearing about one particular nominee up to the last minute. To be precise, his head had been filled to the brim with thoughts about his novel. The novel had won him over with its very first sentence, and the fan vividly remembered the experience of shock and awe he learned just by whom the novel had been written, by an author who was growing increasingly popular in the States: Yun Woo of ‘Language of God.’ The fan brushed his hand across the author’s name on the ballot, listed as the fifth candidate.
There was no end to explanations of how excellent ‘Language of God’ was. Along with theories on Yun Woo, ‘Language of God’ was a common topic in a monthly gathering the fan had been going to. Since the winner of the Nebula Award had been declared, and the Hugo Award Ceremony had started, the topic of Yun Woo had become even more popular.
“Yun Woo, the Eighth Wonder of the World.”
That was the title the group had decided to give the young author. Like the Great Pyramid of Giza or Machu Picchu, asking questions about Yun Woo only led to more questions. There was no solid evidence of anything, anywhere, only questions. How? How was he able to write like that?”
Science fiction fans tended to love authors of excellent science fiction fantasy novels. They looked up to them, and that same affection was directed toward Yun Woo just as intensely. They loved and respected the young author. Then, why couldn’t they vote for him more willingly? That was because Yun Woo was simply too massive of an identity. Humans tended to be overwhelmed before an identity that they couldn’t comprehend, denying it. Then, the fan read Sanders’ response to the interviewer in the magazine.
“Yun Woo is real. He’s alive. He eats with chopsticks and types away on the keyboard of his laptop. Not only does he translate, but he also writes. We can communicate in the same language. He’s also the youngest and the most mature author of all the other authors I’ve met thus far. He knows how to contemplate, make decisions, and be responsible with the results of his choices. While he’s ordinary at times, he can also be anything but.”
The fan read on.
“The one thing I can say for certain is that I’ve never met anybody like him. He’s truly unique!”
The fan recognized the young author’s existence. There were traces left by the author that were simply undeniable, too real to think that he didn’t exist. A Nebula winner, not only did he send Kelley Coin as his representative and meet with Taylor Sanders, but he also took part in translating his own novel. Yun Woo was very much real. However, the same question returned the moment one accepted that truth: How was he able to write like that?
“Damn it. The last time I had this hard a time making a decision was deciding where to go out,” the fan let out, rubbing his face irritably. A part of him made him think that he didn’t want to cast his vote for an author who was putting him through such misery. While he wanted to vote for Yun Woo, another part of him didn’t want to. Whenever the fan thought about the young author, he couldn’t help but find himself wrestling with contradicting thoughts.
Next to the young author on the ballot, was a fifty-five-year-old author who was being nominated for the Hugo Award for the fifth time. The fan felt his heart leaning toward him. ‘Who did others vote for?’ A lot of people had to be going through what he was going through. Then, after wrestling long and hard with his thoughts, the fan made up his mind. He wasn’t certain as to how his vote would affect the results, but he was certain of one thing.
“If Yun Woo achieves the Double Crown, then I’m starting a protest to demand he reveals himself.”
With that, his arduous voting process finally came to an end.
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