Cover Image: Your Utopia

Your Utopia

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Member Reviews

This collection felt like the sci fi baby of Black Mirror and the Twilight Zone. Which is high praise in my opinion. I read and enjoyed Cursed Bunny and this book was even better! Can't wait to read more from Bora Chung!

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Bora Chung is a freak and I love it and mean it with the utmost respect and pleasure. This collection doesn't hit as well as Cursed Bunny did, but at this point I think we're all just waiting for Bora to venture into Full Length Novel territory. There were some real gems - A Song for Sleep, Seed - that grapple with existential questions we should all be asking in this day and age around climate change, capitalism, agency and AI, but overall the stories didn't shock me to my core as much (which might be a me probem).

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Your Utopia is another great story collection from Bora Chung. I loved the odd, off-putting writing as well as the more sci-fi elements. I love this author's work!!

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This collection of short stories gives readers a fresh take on immortality, zombies, aliens, consciousness scanning, inorganic intelligences, and more. I read this in two sittings and I’m definitely interested in reading more translated work of Bora Chung.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this e-copy in exchange for an honest review!

Bora Chung just knows how to write short story collections I become completely immersed in. No doubt I had high expectations from reading Cursed Bunny over the summer, and I was pleasantly satisfied from this collection.

Your Utopia turns the world on its head, writing from futuristic worlds of AI, and examining how humanity lives within and around technology. Particular favorites of mine were "Your Utopia", "Seeds", and "The End of the Voyage". Although the stories are relatively easy to read and understand (even though they incorporate concepts WAY beyond our technology), I think the more thought that I give these in light of the recent attention and fear around AI, the deeper and more memorable they feel to me.

At this point, I'm most curious to see a novel from Bora Chung, her short-form stories are great, but I crave the length and depth you can get into with a lengthier book.

This settles with me overall as a 3.5, rounded up to 4 stars.

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If you liked Bora Chung’s debut, Cursed Bunny, you will love her latest collection! It is brimming with the unique and kaleidoscopic voice you know and the weird and wonderful stories you want. Original and thought-provoking, it’s also haunting and entertaining. - included online at Ms. Magazine, Jan 2024 Reads for the Rest of Us

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Love bora chung and her last book, and this book with her new collection of stories is what I came to expect. Highly recommend

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A strong collection of sci-fi short stories. I haven't read CURSED BUNNY, so this was my first introduction to Bora Chung's work. The idea explored in YOUR UTOPIA—zombie stories, plant people, AI machines trying to understand grief—aren't particularly new, but Chung executes each concept cleanly and well. The standout stories for me were "A Song for Sleep" and "To Meet Her." The real star of this piece, in my opinion, is Anton Hur's translation, which is marvelously well-done in terms of preserving the stories' Korean narrative voice and cultural context while also providing a dynamic and artistic English translation. Looking forward to seeing what Chung and Hur do together next.

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I wasn't sure what to expect going into this short story collection but I ended up liking so many of the stories. There are some Black Mirror vibes throughout the book as these stories really made the reader pause and think. My favorite ones were the Maria, Gratia Plena, Your Utopia, and especially A Song for Sleep. The author's gift for interweaving elements of sci-fi with lessons of humanity allows for a thought-provoking read.

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I loved reading from the POV of an elevator, this was my a favorite!!

Thought provoking short stories that left me wanting more. I love it all except the last.

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I absolutely loved Cursed Bunny and I seem to always love Anton Hur’s translations! So I was incredibly excited to read the new short story collection from Bora Chung! In Your Utopia, Chung focuses on a dystopian future with robots and AI, questions humanity and the meaning of being human and AI and delves deeper into sci-fi topics like aliens and immortality.
Don’t let the title of the book deceive you, this collection was dark. I loved the way it pushed current concepts to strange pockets of dystopia and how they all left me a bit unsettled with their final paragraphs. I think my overall favorite from the collection was “A Song for Sleep'' where an elevator starts to care for en elderly resident.

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gorgeously done work bu Chung and an excellent work in the same sort of vein as her previous short story collection, "Cursed Bunny". Thanks so much for the arc.

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Really great. Unsettling and surprisingly emotional. Still can't believe a story from the POV of an elevator had me chokin' up. Some landed better for me than others, but that's kind of the entire point of a collection, no? Had me immediately putting CURSED BUNNY on hold.

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Thank you to Net Galley, the author, and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

It's roughly been a year and a half since I read Cursed Bunny, but I'm still thinking about it! No one's doing it like Bora Chung.

The Center for Immortality Research
The title alludes to the research center our narrator works at, which will be celebrating its 98th anniversary. The narrator is in charge of party preparations and, to many, the unnecessarily convoluted and frustrating process she undergoes will be a familiar one. This felt like a commentary on the toxicity of work culture, specifically within corporations. This idea of feeling trapped with limited choice is a familiar one to any who rely on their paycheck to survive.

While there were many funny moments here, it ended on a very relatable, thought-provoking note:
"There are people who find solace in ties that we can never sever. If those ties have to do with making a living, the sense of stability must double. But sitting in the lobby of the Center and watching the people come and go, right before going up to work myself, I suddenly had a scary and sad thought. As long as I lived, I had to figure out a way to put food on the table, and this eternal need to feed myself is frightening, and how this need would persist to our 198th, 298th, 398th anniversaries... and how I would have no choice but to spend all that time in this Center, made me sadder and more scared than anything else in the world. But if you thought about it, whether you were forever young or not, anyone who had to make their own living was in the same boat as I was."

The End of the Voyage
Hear me out -- space zombies.

You wouldn't think it would work and yet, it definitely does. This story (which might be stepping into novella territory, given its length) focuses around a mysterious virus circulating Earth that has no noticeable symptoms... aside from the fact that those infected start cannibalizing those around them. A group of individuals specializing in various different skills and subjects (our narrator, a linguist, being one of them) is sent off into space to wait out a cure.

This was a wild, wild ride. And I was fully engaged, with no sense of where it was headed, the entire time.

A Very Ordinary Marriage
When a man catches his wife secretly talking on the phone in a different language, it becomes abundantly clear that they do not have an ordinary marriage. The tension leading up to their confrontation was excellent. Once he realizes the stakes of it all? He can't help but to fall in line. To quell his concerns and suspicions. To insist that his favorite part of his "wife" is her hair. Felt like I was consuming a mini-horror movie (and I mean that in the best way possible).

Maria, Gratia Plena
When I first read this story, I would say I liked it. But now, having discovered that part of it was based on a real life incident? That Bora Chung has channeled her signature sci-fi, dystopian goodness to shine light on victims of domestic abuse and actual tragedies that have occurred around the world? I appreciate it even more.

The premise is centered around a technician who conducts brain scans and analyzes dreams/memories, specifically (in this case) to help solve a criminal case. The patient she's scanning is a notorious drug dealer, who eluded capture for a significant period of time. The technician is meant to only relay information that would help solve the case. However, in analyzing the woman's brain, she finds herself fixated on potential motivations for her crimes, ultimately empathizing with her situation. This one got better as you read. You'd be hard-pressed not to empathize with what's uncovered, as well.

Your Utopia
I doubt I'm the only one who made this connection, but... this is a darker version of Wall-E. An autonomous vehicle spends its days roaming a human-less Earth in self-preservation mode (as it has been programmed to do). Somewhere along the way, it picks up another robot, which repeats the same "check-in" phrase over and over again ("Your utopia is..."). After spotting what they believe to be a human, they embark on a bit of an adventure together, with the narrating robot realizing how valuable the other robot's companionship is to it.

This one's for the people living in fear of a robot takeover. The AI in this story defy your expectations by prioritizing human safety and survival, all while experiencing very relatable (and human) feelings of loneliness. Quite the feat on Bora Chung's part, if I'm being totally honest.

A Song for Sleep
Starting to think Bora Chung's got a soft spot for artificial intelligence! The AI in her stories are just soft marshmallows that you can't help but sympathize with!

In this case, an advanced elevator becomes intrigued with a 95 year-old woman in its building. It goes to great lengths to try and make her feel more comfortable, which proves tricky, given her unfamiliarity (or reluctance) with technology. The more it learns about her, the more endearing it finds her. And a sort of existential crisis follows. This was very sad and very sweet.

Not really even sure how to discuss this one. I enjoyed the message (GMO corporations are greedy and corrupt), but didn't love the execution. I seem to be the minority on that though! Many people enjoyed the sort of eco-horror vibes this one gave off. Unfortunately, this might have been my least favorite story in the collection so far.

To Meet Her
An elderly woman is sexually harassed mere moments before an anti-queer terrorist attack strikes. This story felt personal, especially in light of the author's note following it. While I can appreciate the sentiments fueling Chung's writing, the plot was a bit difficult to follow. That said, this story (as well as several preceding it) serves as a significant departure from the work she provided in Cursed Bunny. While the writing style is still distinctly hers, there seems to be more anger and passion fueling these stories. And while this story wasn't my favorite, I can appreciate her passion for activism, particularly on behalf of vulnerable and marginalized populations.

Overall: I'm still a Bora Chung stan. Not everyone will be. But there were some true gems in this collection. I was going to list my favorites, but aside from the last couple... all of them worked for me!

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Bora Chung’s CURSED BUNNY has stayed with me ever since I read it and I was thrilled to have the opportunity read YOUR UTOPIA.

short stories are very hit or miss for me and i felt this with YOUR UTOPIA, but the stories I liked I really liked.

I love the themes that are explored in this collection — loneliness, technology, connection that are weaved together with science and speculative fiction.

i can see why bora Chung’s writing is so well received — while this wasn’t my favourite, with some stories being weaker than others, I will always read whatever she has coming next

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I found all of these stories to be original and distinct, which is really all you can ask for in a short story collection. I did find myself slightly underwhelmed, with a few stories failing to keep my attention engaged. However, the strong stories in this one were really strong and interesting. Probably 3.5 stars, will check out other publications by this author.

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From the Author’s Note, sounds like Chung wrote these stories in protest. As a way to speak against human death that can be prevented - to protest the Anti Discrimination Act and Serious Accidents Penalty Bill not passing. Each of these shorts are distinctive and captivating. I’m not a fan of futuristic sci-fi stuff but truly enjoyed this collection.

Happy pub day to Bora Chung’s YOUR UTOPIA! This collection of shorts is one part eerie, one part weird, one part creative — and on the whole, it’s fantastic!
I don’t enjoy weird books and generally stay away from sci-fi and futuristic stuff. I have heard so much about CURSED BUNNY that I had to get my hands on Chung’s second book. (Before I started YU, I read the first chapter to CURSED BUNNY and it is…interesting, to put it shortly 😅) Even with the caveat of the weird factor, I did find all of the stories to be extremely creative and imaginative — one of the premise of short story “Seed” is in a world where nature makes a comeback against industrialization and genetic modification. The one called “A Song for Sleep” takes place in a world where an elevator knows your favorite song and serves targeted ads - just genius!
Speaking of imagination, how do I spark my creative spirit again? I feel like idk how to think out of the box anymore. Accepting all the tips!

Thanks @algonquinbooks & @netgalley for the eARC!

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OMG! “Your Utopia” by Bora Chung, Author, and Translated by Anton Hur is a unique anthology and collection of stories that might leave you speechless, or having to say a lot of things. The author is creative, speculative, imaginative, and also wrote “Cursed Bunny”. These stories seemed to be written around Covid, and the period of isolation that we had. The genres for these stories are Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, Satire, Horror, and Political Thriller. In one of the stories, many of the characters develop a disease, with no symptoms, other than the need to be cannibalistic. Unlike Covid, there is no cure, and some of the people from Earth are sent to a spaceship, location not specified. If and when the disease stops, they may or may not be able to return. Unfortunately it is not clear if anyone has this disease. Do you have any clues to what happens?

I read most genres and an anthology can be difficult to review, because the stories are different, although there might be some themes that are related. To quote the description, “Bora Chung’s imitable blend of horror, absurdity and dark humor reaches its peaks in these tales of loss and discovery, dystopia and idealism, death and immortality”. In some ways this book is strange, weird, creepy and crazy. There are twists and turns and endings that really threw me for a loop. There is the element of surprise, and the author certainly is creative! I would suggest not reading this late at night as I did. For those who have certain fears, I would suggest caution. I would recommend this for those readers that enjoy the genres mentioned above. Happy Reading!

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Your Utopia is a mind-bending collection of short stories, speculative fiction mixed with horror and dark humor, that highlights the absurdities of humanity and modern life. I’ll be mulling over these stories and what they say about us for some time.

Thank you Bora Chung, Algonquin Books, and NetGalley for providing this ARC for review consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Some sci-fi, some fantasy, some horror, but all deeply thought-provoking and subtly (or not so subtly) disturbing, this collection of eight short stories is yet another surreal delve into the depths of the human psyche from the author of Cursed Bunny.

From lowly office workers in an unusual corporation, to a cannibalism pandemic seen from space; from a deceptively ordinary marriage, to the brain scans of a comatose criminal; from an abandoned automotive struggling to survive, to a building lift that finds a connection to an elderly and ailing resident; from human-tree hybrids trying to plant their version of peace, to a terrorism witness who just wanted to meet her idol – the content of these stories spans universes of robots, aliens, plats, animals and human beings, all struggling to survive and connect in an increasingly terrifying and lonely existence.

Throughout run themes of what it means to be human or not-human, what the purpose of existence might be, how we reach out into the void from within our own individual consciousnesses hoping for connection and meaning in the chaos.

If you pick up this book, be prepared to fall deep into the depths of these intricately layered tales and find yourself left mentally reeling and emotionally drained as you turn the final page.

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