Book Review: Snapshots of strange worlds in Bora Chung’s Your Utopia

Your Utopia

Filled with tales of robots and cannibals, aliens and immortals, Bora Chung’s latest book Your Utopia is a fascinating exploration of the worlds just beyond our own. Highly original, passionate and weird in the best way, it makes for an enthralling read, even if there are some hiccups along the way.

Following in the tradition of her previous story collection Cursed Bunny, which was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, Your Utopia is an anthology featuring eight new science fiction stories written by Bora Chung and translated by Anton Hur. While they may tenuously share a genre, these stories vary wildly, each showing a glimpse into another world ostensibly similar to our own, yet unfamiliar at the same time.

From the almost casual zombies of “The End of the Voyage”, to the memory researchers of “Maria, Gratia Plena”, to the lonely robots of “Your Utopia” and “A Song for Sleep”, no two stories in this anthology are the same, or even set in the same universe. Each story is very original, at times pulling on classic science fiction tropes but generally with a twist, a spin on them, which makes them unexpected. Reading these stories for the first time, I was rarely sure what to expect with each new title.

However, this almost-experimental approach is not without its downsides. Some of the stories hit me hard, with worlds that fascinated me, characters who stood out, exploring concepts I loved. Other stories left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Each story was nonetheless well-written, with Bora Chung’s signature haunting prose and occasional jabs of dry wit; it’s just that not all of them had that special something to them, that spark that made them fascinating or stick with me.

The stories that did stick with me in this collection were excellent, however. Bora Chung’s writing is compelling – despite the heavy subjects she often discusses in her stories and the tragic air many of them exude, the light and well-constructed prose makes the book an enthralling read which is difficult to put down for long. It might not be perfect, but it’s full of enough life and heart that it still makes for a great read. And a fascinating one – in the great tradition of science fiction, these stories are not afraid to tread new ground and explore concepts integral to our world today, and to our future.

Lovers of science fiction and all the things it can tell us about our world are encouraged to check out this book, and see for themselves what makes Bora Chung’s haunting prose and dry humour so popular. It may be a rather different set of stories than Cursed Bunny, but if you’ve enjoyed her previous work, it’s worth checking out.


Bora Chung’s Your Utopia is available now from Scribe Publications. Get a copy from Booktopia HERE.