For fans of the worlds of Philip K. Dick, Squid Game, and Severance: An absorbing tale of corporate intrigue, political unrest, unsolved mysteries, and the havoc wreaked by one company’s monomaniacal endeavor to build the world’s first space elevator—from one of South Korea's most revered science fiction writers, whose identity remains unknown.
On the fictional island of Patusan—and much to the ire of the Patusan natives—the Korean conglomerate LK is constructing an elevator into Earth’s orbit, gradually turning this one-time tropical resort town into a teeming travel hub: a gateway to and from our planet. Up in space, holding the elevator’s “spider cable” taut, is a mass of space junk known as the counterweight. And stashed within that junk is a trove of crucial data: a memory fragment left by LK’s former CEO, the control of which will determine the company’s—and humanity’s—future.
Racing up the elevator to retrieve the data is a host of rival forces: Mac, the novel’s narrator and LK’s Chief of External Affairs, increasingly disillusioned with his employer; the everyman Choi Gangwu, unwittingly at the center of Mac’s investigations; the former CEO’s brilliant niece and power-hungry son; and Rex Tamaki, a violent officer in LK’s Security Division. They’re all caught in a labyrinth of fake identities, neuro-implant “Worms,” and old political grievances held by the Patusan Liberation Front, the army of island natives determined to protect Patusan’s sovereignty.
Conceived by Djuna as a low-budget science fiction film, with literary references as wide-ranging as Joseph Conrad and the Marquis de Sade, Counterweight is part cyberpunk, part hardboiled detective fiction, and part parable of South Korea’s neocolonial ambition and its rippling effects.
About the Author
DJUNA is a novelist and film critic, and former head of the Korean Science Fiction Writers Union. For more than twenty years they have published as a faceless writer, refusing to reveal personal details regarding age, gender, or legal name. Widely considered to be one of South Korea’s most important science fiction writers, Djuna has published ten short-story collections and five novels. ANTON HUR was double-longlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize and shortlisted for his translation of Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung. He has also won PEN translation grants transatlantically and has taught at various institutions in both South Korea and abroad, including the National Centre for Writing in the UK. He lives in Seoul.
"Counterweight is a psychological thriller that will turn all your preconceptions upside down. The action scenes read like poetry, the space elevator is astonishingly realistic, and the characters creep inside you like mind worms. Djuna's meticulously told story eviscerates corporate politics, revealing the authoritarian perversity at the heart of technological innovation—whether the tech is inside our brains, or reaching into outer space." —Annalee Newitz, author of The Terraformers and Autonomous
"Paranoid, wondrous, and breakneck—Counterweight is an elevator rising from the muck to the stars." —Max Gladstone, co-author of This Is How You Lose the Time War (winner of the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award)
"Djuna’s visionary novel launches us on a search for elusive answers in a world where nobody is ever as they seem. Enthralling and category-defying, it unfolds at a thriller’s pace in its exploration of the plasticities of human identity and where technology—and our ambition—might take us." —Pitchaya Sudbanthad, author of Bangkok Wakes to Rain
“Counterweight needs no heavy lifting. It is so sharp, cutting and suspense-packed you’ll read it in a blink. Highly recommended for everyone who loves great sci-fi.” —Marc-Uwe Kling, author of Qualityland
“Djuna is a legend and a giant in Korean science fiction. Hur is a phenomenal translator. And Counterweight has everything. It is a fast-paced science fiction action thriller, a well-crafted mystery novel, and an absolutely captivating study of the complexity of human existence (physical or otherwise). A wild ride where both the author and the translator shine. I could not put down the book.” —Bora Chung, author of Cursed Bunny (International Booker Prize finalist)