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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Seems like we’ve made quite the noise during our trip,” Nam Kyung said while looking at the articles. The news had gotten out that Yun Woo and his editor-in-charge had been in the States. Thankfully, it wasn’t until they were on their plane ride back to Korea that the news really started to spread. The scenery out the window was telling them that they were flying over Korean soil, and the plane was about to land at any given minute. Meanwhile, Nam Kyung was chuckling while reading the articles written in English.
“Look at this,” he said, showing one of them to the young author.
Then, after glancing at it, Juho said, “Why would I read that article?”
“To see just how popular you are.”
“And what good would that do me?”
“Oh, you know. Help you think about your figure and all.” Then, fond of the words that had come out of him on a whim, the editor kept on, “The single most important thing in importing a book is whether or not it will sell. In that case, what do you think would be the most efficient way to pick out a book that would sell?”
“Going with a book that’s already famous.”
“Man, you’ve always been quick to catch on! That’s exactly it. It’s rare that a book gets pushed out of the bestsellers’ list once it reaches it. Of course, there are different ways by which a book becomes known, and winning a prominent award is definitely one of them. Even Korea has been importing a bunch of science fiction literature that was nominated for some literary awards.”
Then, leaning back on his seat, Juho said, “It sounds like you’re saying that my books have finally met that standard.”
“Many times over. Your name carries power now. Yun Woo literature.”
“I’m not sure what to think of that,” the young author said in an even tone of voice, and while Nam Kyung looked at him, Juho thought, ‘When power grows, incidents are bound to happen. No matter how much anybody discusses the name Yun Woo, there’s no way they can predict what’s going to happen in the future.’ Then, telling Nam Kyung to stop looking at the articles, Juho pulled out a picture he had been holding in his hand.
“Look at this picture. It came out well, didn’t it?” It was a picture of himself and Coin standing in front of his house. Taking the picture from the young author’s hand, Nam Kyung looked around to make sure that no one was nearby and started looking at the picture in peace. While one person was calm and peaceful, the other was edgy and sharp. Their characteristics were being reflected explicitly. Surprisingly, Coin had been the one to suggest that they take a picture before Yun Woo and Nam Kyung headed for the airport.
“Maybe it’s because he read your writing?” he said, and the young author shrugged it off.
“Maybe it’s just for research.”
“Who knows?” Juho said and looked out the window. The plane had safely brought the young author and his editor-in-charge back home. From then on, upon arriving home, Juho collapsed on his bed and fell sound asleep.
“Hows was the trip?” Seo Kwang’s mother asked. Having been excused from school until the following day, Juho came out for a walk and ended going as far as Seo Kwang’s parents’ store. Because Seo Kwang had told him ahead of time that he was planning on ditching the late night study session and come straight to the store, Juho decided to wait for him there. Upon seeing him, Seo Kwang’s mother greeted the young author gladly. She, too, had been aware that Juho had gone to the US recently.
“It was great.”
“That’s good to hear. You should be going around while you’re still young,” she said. She didn’t seem to have a negative perspective toward traveling despite the fact that he looked like a run-of-the-mill high school junior.
“Maybe I should go on a trip, too,” she said, giving serious thought to the idea. “Well, Seo Kwang should be here any minute now, so eat something while you wait. Oh, feel free to read anything you want.”
Juho looked at the books on the shelves. His Black Book was being displayed in the most visible spot in the store. As the young author walked toward it, he stopped in front of the promotional banner when he saw the words ‘Nebula Winner.’ There was yet to be mention of the Hugo Award. Nevertheless, his books had to be selling at a rate higher than ever.
He saw a customer reading while sitting at a table. She, too, had a copy of the Black Book in her hands. Then, after picking up his book for no apparent reason, he put it back down and picked up a book from the stack next to it, which was of copies of the book written by Yun Seo. Then, sitting where he normally sat, he read in peace, all the while enjoying himself a cup of tea.
At that moment, the bell attached to the door rang noisily. When Juho looked up, wondering if it was Seo Kwang, it turned out to be another customer, who soon walked toward the window.
“I’m here,” she said, tapping the woman who had been reading at the desk on the back of her head. Then, looking away from her book, the woman poked her friend in her belly and said, “OK, all right.”
‘They seem close,’ Juho thought and redirected his attention to the book he was reading. However, he couldn’t help himself but take interest in their conversation.
“Yun Woo? Again?” one of them criticized the other for reading a Yun Woo book, looking at it with disgruntled eyes. However, she didn’t seem genuine in her displeasure toward the book. Then, the friend who had been reading the book hugged it and said, “Well, yeah!? This has gotta be one of the most original pieces I’ve ever come across in my twenty years of reading. The fact that there’s a creative boundary that’s beyond my understanding is something to take delight in.”
Meanwhile, her friend who had just come into the store was looking like she had heard those words way too many times. Then, adding to her misery, the Yun Woo fan said, “He’s a genius.”
With that, the friend walked over to the counter in order to place an order for their drinks. When she returned to her friend, they started talking about a different subject. With the exception of the two friends and Juho being the only customers, the cafe was empty for the most part. Juho focused on reading his book, which was written by Yun Seo. It brought peace to his heart. Yun Seo’s writing had a satiating effect on readers. It filled them up and put them in a state similar to food coma. It wasn’t until then that the young author realized just how tense he had been up to that point. Perhaps that was how Yun Seo had been able to come back with a new book. In a world filled with unresolved tension, her writing was like an oasis in the middle of a desert. Losing track of time, Juho read on. Then, by the time he was completely immersed in the book, he sensed a person sitting across from him without even asking for his permission.
“Been a while.”
It was Seo Kwang. Upon realizing who it was, Juho took Seo Kwang’s gift out of his bag.
“It’s a book!”
Juho had pondered on what to get him as a gift for a good while. In the end, he had concluded that his friend would much prefer a book over just about anything.
“I got it from a bookstore in Manhattan,” Juho said. Meanwhile, with a big smile on his face, Seo Kwang picked up the book. It was written by one of his favorite authors, in its original language. Then, Seo Kwang opened the book, buried his face in it, and inhaled deeply.
“Ah, smells like New York,” Seo Kwang said, which rewarded Juho with a sense of accomplishment.
“You like it?”
“A lot,” Seo Kwang said flipping through the pages quickly. He was proficient enough at that point to be able to translate and interpret sentences written in English.
“I’m gonna savor this and enjoy it for a long time,” Seo Kwang said. Then, he asked, “What was the bookstore like in New York?”
Remembering the environment of the bookstore he had been to, the young author answered, “It’s not all that different from the bookstores here. There were a lot of chairs though. Ones that look like that.”
Juho pointed at the series of bar stools with circular seats, which were lined up by the window. During his recent visit to the States, it stood out to Juho that there were seats ready throughout the store for those customers who wanted to read.
“There were bookstores that sold clothes too.”
“Oh! I heard of that. I’ve been eying them for some time. So, did you go to one?”
Seo Kwang was better versed in the bookstores in New York than the young author who had recently been there. Hearing Seo Kwang say that he wanted to visit a used bookstore in the States at some point, Juho was struck by the thought that if they were to go to the States together for a trip, it would quickly turn into a bookstore tour. While Juho was listening quietly, Seo Kwang brought up something that occurred to him, “Oh, did you see this?”
“What is it?”
With an exhilarated look on his face, Seo Kwang took his phone out and handed it over to Juho. It had an image of a foreigner holding a picket sign that read: “Tell us who Yun Woo is!”
Juho read the letters written in red paint on the picket sign. The paint running down the sign gave off an ominous look, almost like it had some sort of curse written on it. Meanwhile, Seo Kwang nodded, still chuckling.
“I think he’s holding a one-man protest in front of Fernand’s building.”
The building behind the man was unmistakably that of Fernand Publishing.
“Why there of all places?”
“Dude, you said it yourself: he’s expressing the burning curiosity of the fans desperate to know who Yun Woo is. This guy’s pretty well known in the science fiction community, actually. He runs a blog, too.”
“Does he, now?” Juho asked. He looked closely at the man’s face, but he didn’t recognize him. On the other hand, Seo Kwang seemed to be well acquainted with him.
“His blog is really something. It has this power to make you buy books before you even realize it.”
Considering that he would buy whichever book he felt like with or without some blog’s recommendations, Juho didn’t find his claim all that convincing. Then, reading Juho’s thoughts, Seo Kwang added with more emphasis, “I’m serious! You can just feel his passion. Here, he put up some pictures he took at the Denver Worldcon this year.”
There were an array of people and places behind the avid science fiction fan in the pictures, and it certainly was Denver.
“He looks like a cheerful guy,” the young author said. The man was opening his mouth in some pictures while sticking his tongue out in others. It was clear that he was enjoying the convention to his heart’s content. Then, Seo Kwang lowered his voice and said, “He’s mentioned Yun Woo in his blog too. Several times.”
Seo Kwang’s statement made the young author wonder what the man thought of him as an author.
“What did he say?”
After organizing his thoughts, Seo Kwang answered, “He didn’t have a lot of good things to say at first.”
Yun Woo was a young author, and a piece written by a young author was inevitably less mature. Science fiction or fantasy novels were strictly fictional. At the same time, that very quality served as a delivery mechanism for poignant portrayals of reality, conveying political messages and philosophy. In that case, Yun Woo’s age made him laughable at best. How much would a nineteen-year-old know about politics? The world? Reality?
“That was his response when Yun Woo had just started making a name for himself through pure literature, which was also around the time when the rumor that Yun Woo was planning to write a fantasy novel started circulating. This isn’t a post in his blog, but it’s his response to a comment in one of his posts that said, ‘What are your thoughts on the author by the name of Yun Woo?'”
In other words, it had been before the avid fan had read ‘Language of God’ himself. Not only did he know nothing about the young author, but he also didn’t even bother to know about him. His posts tended to be quite emotional. His bouts excitement and anger were explicit in the way he wrote, just as much as his curiosity and joy. Nevertheless, people found that side of him entertaining.
“Then, after some time, this comes up,” Seo Kwang said, showing another post to the young author.
“This is it,” Juho read the first sentence out loud.
An explanation followed saying that it had been the first realization that he had been struck by upon reading ‘Language of God.’ It was a post recommending the book. The avid fan was describing his emotional state in great detail of when he tried searching for Yun Woo on the internet. In the end, the only thing he had learned about the young author had been his age. There had been hardly any information on him. In the meantime, Seo Kwang showed Juho the most recent post on the avid fan’s blog.
“I want to know more about him. When I found out the results for the Hugo Award, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’m going to the publisher, and since there’s no way I can meet with the author, I just hope the publishers understand where I’m coming from.”
Then, another post followed, which read, “Yun Woo, if you’re reading this, I sincerely hope that you give some sort of answer. Where are you?”
“Time’s running out,” Seo Kwang said. When Juho looked up at him, he had a book in his hand. However, instead of the book Juho had given him as a gift, he was holding Yun Seo’s book. Meanwhile, Seo Kwang’s expression indicated that he knew full well why he was holding that book in particular. “You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?”
As the young author remained silent, Seo Kwang continued, “Remember what you promised? People are getting antsy. Their patience is running thin.”
At that, Juho remembered why he had decided to remain an anonymous author from the beginning: He had wanted a comfortable school life.
“We’re about to graduate,” Juho said with a smile, but Seo Kwang maintained the look on his face.
Then, the young author read one of the sentences in the book, “There’s an end to everything.”
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