Ocean's Godori

A Novel

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Pub Date 23 Apr 2024 | Archive Date Not set
Zando, Hillman Grad

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Becky Chambers meets Firefly in this ambitious, witty, and big-hearted science fiction debut about a disgraced space pilot struggling to find her place while fighting to protect the people she loves.

"The book we wish we had grown up with, that takes on classic characters and tropes we love through a lens that finally sees us and our experiences at the center using a voice and a narrative that captures who we are and what we fight for." -Lena Waithe, Rishi Ranjani, and Naomi Funabashi, Hillman Grad Books

Ocean Yoon has never felt like much of a Korean, even if she is descended from a long line of haenyeo, Jeju Island's beloved female divers. She's also persona non grata at the Alliance, Korea's solar system-dominating space agency, since a mission went awry and she earned a reputation for being a little too quick with her gun.

When her best friend, Teo, second son of the Anand Tech empire, is framed for murdering his family, Ocean and her misfit crewmates are pushed to the forefront of a high-stakes ideological conflict. But dodging bullets and winning space chases may be the easiest part of what comes next.

A thrilling adventure across the solar that delivers hyperkinetic action sequences and irresistible will-they-won't-they romance alongside its nuanced exploration of colonialism and capitalism, Ocean's Godori ultimately asks: What do we owe our past? How do we navigate our present while honoring the complicated facets of our identity? What can our future hold?

Becky Chambers meets Firefly in this ambitious, witty, and big-hearted science fiction debut about a disgraced space pilot struggling to find her place while fighting to protect the people she loves.


Marketing Plan

Consumer Audience Targeting

Invest in niche audiences to engineer virality on BookTok

  • Extensive indie bookseller outreach with personalized notes encouraging Indie Next nominations
  • Focus on genre bookstores, Asian-owned bookstores
  • BookTok creator campaign starting this Fall focusing on fans of Babel and relevant comp titles
  • Creative content utilizing imagery and references from the world of the book
  • AAPI Month campaign
  • Partnerships with social media creators and with relevant brands

Hillman Grad Books Launch

  • Define Hillman Grad and make clear why Ocean's Godori is a perfect fit for them
  • Pitch for interviews with Hillman Grad team and author with TV, national and regional radio, podcasts; major print publications
  • Video content with Lena and Elaine
  • Social strategy in coordination with Hillman Grad
  • Los Angeles launch and conversation series in partnership with Hillman Grad
  • Original piece/adapted excerpt in Locus or Electric Lit

Trade & Retailer Outreach

  • Bookseller dinner at Winter Institute
  • Indies Introduce submission
  • Barnes & Noble manager mailing
  • Indie Next pitching, bookseller newsletter spotlight, and indie pre-order campaigns

Media & Events

  • Mailing to reviewers at major publications (NYT, WaPo, Seattle Times); genre outlets (i09, Lightspeed Magazine); Asian American outlets (AAWW, Mochi, NW Asian Weekly); etc.
  • Launch with Town Hall Seattle with Elliot Bay Book Company
  • Pitch for festivals, including Portland Book Festival
  • Tour with Asian-owned bookstores
  • Bookseller dinner with Elaine's contacts from bookselling days


  • Digital ads on relevant sci-fi and fantasy sites
  • YouTube, TikTok, and Meta advertising
  • Goodreads campaign

Consumer Audience Targeting

Invest in niche audiences to engineer virality on BookTok

  • Extensive indie bookseller outreach with personalized notes encouraging Indie Next nominations
  • Focus on genre...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781638930594
PRICE $28.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 39 members

Featured Reviews

This was not like any other story I have read, but to be fair this was also my first sci-fi/ space novel!

I am NOT disappointed in anyway. I loved how fast paced it was from start to finish. There was no room for feeling bored.

The ending was perfect but now I need MOREEEE.

The main character is the epitome of amazing.

Thank you Cho for being my introduction to this genre, I’m excited to see what else you write!

Thank you NetGalley and publishers!

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5 stars, hands down. I loved everything about this and Elaine U. Cho is now on my must read list.

I think the original synopsis I read compared Cho to Becky Chambers, which I disagree with. Chambers' space operas always feel like such a microcosm of events - they are small scale, charactee centric and when I finish them I'm not wowed to get to the next. This isnt to say every space opera needs to affect the whole galaxy, but I need something a bit heavier in plot.

I see more similarities with J.S. Dewes, Alex White and James S.A. Corey (I loved The Expanse series, but they were crap at writing women characters - Cho is definitely an improvement on that front).

Cho builds a space opera setting with Korea reunified and the geocentric hub of the galaxy, similar to The Expanse, the martians have been prevented from terraforming and major corporations have a predominant say in who lives and who thrives. While it does take context clues to learn some of the Korean, I thought it was a great new perspective on global dominance. Having visited Korea in 2016 and learned more about its history and culture, I didn't doubt Cho's worldview - look at how influential South Korea is as a forced island in terms of technology and pop culture -- imagine having a land border accessible again.

I also appreciated her references for sci fi / pop culture fans - starting with boyfriend Adama a la Battlestar Galactica. These touches made it easier to connect to the story.

We have a wily group of core characters with distinct pasts and skills that complement each other - the plot here is both intimate to some characters, has larger galaxy implications and provides a solved mystery that leads to an ending that makes you want more without feeling like a massive cliffhanger.

The pacing of the story is fast - definitely take time with the first five or six chapters to understand who all the characters are.

I truly found this story to be phenomenal and I'm excited to read what Cho does next. Thank you to Zando and NetGalley for the ARC.

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gorgeous, must read sci-fi space novel that i would absolutely recommend to everyone in sight! thanks so much for the arc, would recommend.

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*I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for the free book!*

I absolutely *LOVED* "Ocean's Godori". It gave me a Becky Chambers vibe with its found family, queer love, and character driven storylines. While I had a somewhat hard time immersing myself, I later really did not want to leave the world again. This Korean space-opera debut by Cho is one of my reading highlights of 2024 so far and I really want a sequel, please!

5 stars

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book!!! As most people know by now, I really like sci-fi. Especially criminal sci-fi with a side of romance. This has both plus a side of action and chasing. I really like the errata at the end as well. Read this for a good hero turned criminal plus a side of internal espionage.

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Ocean’s Godori

Thank you to the publishers at Zando, Hillprint Grad for the chance to read Ocean’s Godori by Elaine U. Cho!

A space western with a murder mystery for good measure, Ocean’s Godori is a fun ride. The book comps bring up Firefly, and while the vibe is right, this is a high sci-fi/fantasy story that is adamant about its protagonists being people of color. If anything, it imagines a universe in which Korea became *the* Earth’s premier space nation and features a disgraced protagonist who comes from deeply Korean roots.

There’s no handwringing here or big soliloquies about generational trauma or how homophobia ruins everything. It’s a fun jaunt through space that happens to have queer characters of color interacting with each other in fun and interesting ways.

I’m actually really hopeful this is the first of many books in this world because just when I was getting into the world, the book just.. ended without much fanfare. This speaks more to my desire to keep reading about Ocean and her crew of misfits and a bit of a let down with the ending. The prologue implied a lot more political intrigue that just didn’t end getting resolved and even if there’s plans for more books in this universe, it just feels a bit like a let down.

Regardless, it’s a romp through the universe with layered protagonists of color that will hit the spot for any Star Trek/Firefly/band-of-misfits-becomes-chosen-family buffs out there. Excited to see what comes next from Elaine U. Cho!

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Ocean’s Godori is an amazing space opera debut novel by Elaine U. Cho.

The book follows three main protagonists: Ocean, Haven and Teo. It takes place in a world where Korea is the main dominating power that, together with the major corporation, dominates the exploitation of different planets in the solar system.

This book started very confusing with different storylines from different characters, but it converged to a fast paced story with mystery, romance and a lot of action sequences to keep it engaging. In addition, it keeps its politics quite light and easy to understand while still going into enough detail to understand the world. There is a clear focus and integration of Korean culture, which I found very interesting after visiting South Korea just last year. It took me some time to getting used to the Korean words used and I had to use Maggie’s Glossary of Alliance Parlance once or twice, but overall it was understandable using context.

This book includes raiders, chases through space, some romance, adventure, strange worlds and a crew that melts anyone’s heart. It was such an enjoyable read and I can’t recommend it enough. Be mindful however that it ends in a cliffhanger, as I just kept looking at the Acknowledgements in confusion for a very long time.

I’ll definitely be continuing this series, as I am now very much invested in the story and I have grown to love the characters.

Thank you very much Zando and NetGallery for providing me this ARC.

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As a Korean American studying astrophysics I genuinely really loved this book, from the characters, to the plot, to, of course, the world, it was <i>astronomically</i> well done. I loved this book, and I would love to see more from this author, especially in this universe. The romances felt sweet, and the main character was incredibly reminiscent of Han Solo in all the best ways, Han Seoul-oh if you will.

That being said, the main detraction tot his book is that it's half a book. The climax to this fairly long book is given in the final 50 or so pages and wrapped up at a lightening fast speed, and it was a genuine shame. You didn't really get to see any character arcs brought to resolution, nor do you get to see any satisfying fleshing out of the world past it's initial exploration. I would love to see this story genuinely finished, because as it is, I don't think I can really recommend it due to the genuinely unsatisfying way this book ends up reading.

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This book was the most pleasant surprise. I read it in one sitting and it was absolutely amazing! It definitely starts a bit slow, as it introduces us to all of the many characters, but then it quickly picks up into an action packed space opera. I loved all of the action, especially the fancy flying from Ocean, and how it all continued to escalate as the story went on and the stakes got higher. I also loved all the characters. They each had so much depth and complexity, both within themselves and in their relationships with those around them. I especially loved Ocean and Theo, both in how much they had been through and their developments over the course of the book, but also how amazing their platonic relationship was. I did wish we had gotten more insights into their past. And the found family vibes in the rest of the crew and the raiders were amazing. Also, I was so happy to find this is book set in a queer norm society. As for the ending, I was not ready for the book to end. I need more! So overall, I highly recommend this book.

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I adore space operas, and I absolutely loved this read!
The story was rich and so different to what I usually come across, the three main protagonists were unique and the adventure was superb.

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This is a fun and visceral space opera that is well-paced and exciting. It's set in an interesting futuristic world in space and I'd like to see more of it, it seems like a fascinating system.

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"Ocean's Godori" by Elaine U. Cho is an impressive debut space opera that grabbed me right from the beginning with its rich character storylines and original premise. It is the first book in a series and a good start to it. I picked up the book on a whim because I was intrigued by the premise, and I wasn't disappointed. It is one of the best space opera novels I've read in a long time.

The book follows three main protagonists (Ocean, Teo, and Haven) and takes place in a world where Korea is the main dominating power, which, together with the help of major tech corporations, exploits planets in the solar system.

Ocean Yoon is a disgraced Korean space pilot of the Alliance, Korea’s space agency, who has to fly the Ohneul, a low-class Alliance ship, and bow to Captain Dae Song's orders. The other crew members are Maggie, a mechanic and engineer; Haven, a Mortemian and the new Medic; and Von Kent - the xenobotanist. And then we have Teo, the second son of the Anand Tech empire and Ocean's best friend. Last but not least is the soft-hearted pirate Phoenix, and his team consists of Aries, Cass, Lupus, and Gemini.

The storylines start out separately and then overlap in interesting ways. The plot thickens when Teo is framed for murder and has to run for his life. Ocean steps up to help him, and what follows is a great adventure chock full of ordeals, raiders, space chases, and even romance thrown in for good measure.

I enjoyed the book very much. It was slow to start, setting the stage, but after a bit, it picked up the pace and kept me fully engaged. I loved that the author didn't give us all the information right away or spoon-feed us. Bit by bit, the author uncovers more and more pieces, filling up the dots. I liked the writing and the way the story unfolded before my very eyes. The storylines are well thought out and engaging.

The author provided enough information on the background stories of the characters, so it was easy to keep up with the story. Although there were multiple characters in the book, I didn’t find it difficult to keep track of all of them. The characters are well-rounded, and the author did a great job of establishing them as people. I loved the friendships, the sharp ripostes, and the interactions between them, as well as the references to Korean culture and the exploration of humanity, cultures, values, and relationships.

If I have any complaint, it is that the ending was rather abrupt, ending with a cliffhanger. There is a hint of the development of a love triangle (my least favorite trope), and I hope it fades away in the next book. Other than that, the novel was wonderfully unique and exceeded my expectations. Full stars from me! I would love to read the next book in the series. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy space opera novels, action, and strong female characters.

* Thank you NetGalley and (publisher) for the opportunity to read this arc. All opinions are my own.

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Elaine E. Cho's debut novel, Ocean's Godori, is a great read. It's largely set in space, and is centred around Ocean Yoon, a disgraced space pilot slumming it in a lower-grade ship doing missions she's not very interested in. She's a likeable rogue: "Handling Ocean is like trying to pet a cat. You have to feign complete disinterest and leave the door ajar for her to nudge open on her own."Along comes a space pirate, Phoenix, and suddenly Ocean and her rich gay bestie, Teo Anand, are tangled in quite the mess. Sometimes it's quite a hot mess, which will no doubt please queer readers: "The hand he puts up to push Phoenix away clutches a fistful [of] his shirt and brings him closer instead."

Bar for the first few chapters where you're trying to get a handle on who everyone is, the book's pacing is fast. Cho's descriptions of the action are also quite visceral: "Blood flies in ribbons, the hot viscosity painting his face, the messy gust of it a contrast to the bitter cold." Cho also integrates some interesting aspects of Korean culture into the book without interrupting the main storyline. Ocean, for example, is descended from the "fabled women divers of Jejudo, mermaids of Korea [who] call the surface of the water the line between death and life." Korean food is another vehicle for Cho to subtly showcase Korean culture: "Ocean can taste the undertone of sweetness in the spicy sauce. Maggie likes to fold in a little brown sugar to the gochujang, adding depth to the red pepper paste." I just wish I had known about the rear glossary sooner as using my Kindle's Korean dictionary simply wasn't cutting it.

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This was such a great concept in a scifi novel, I enjoyed the space pilot element and thought it worked well overall with what I wanted. Elaine U. Cho writes a great story and the characters had a great feel to it. I was never bored when reading this, I enjoyed getting to know Ocean as a character and the world within. It was everything that I hoped for.

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Thank you to Zando and Net Galley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Space operas and I have a strange relationship. I love them, but often find myself disappointed by the them. Whether it’s problems with the way the female characters are written, or the pretty blatant ableism the genre can perpetuate, they often just aren’t up to scratch.

That isn’t the case with this one, though. Elaine U. Cho has created something truly epic with Ocean’s Godori. The story is rich and colorful and the characters are full of life.

1: The Plot

Ocean Yoon is a Korean pilot who works for the Alliance, Korea’s space agency. Despite her talent, she’s currently flying a Class 4 ship after shooting someone against orders. When her friend Teo is accused of murdering his parents, Ocean and her crew become caught up in the conflict.

2: Narrative, Prose, and Story

The choice to throw the readers into the thick of things with very little up front exposition was the right one. Cho is masterful at weaving exposition into the right places without infodumping on the reader.

With unique sci-fi names, I sometimes have trouble keeping up with who’s who. Luckily, Cho was able to introduce characters well and switch POVs often enough that I wasn’t left confused, but not so often that the narrative felt choppy.

The fast pacing made this an easy read. I had no trouble getting into and keeping up with the story.

Ocean, Teo, and Haven are all great characters who are interesting and feel real. They make excellent POV characters for a well-rounded story as they’re all quite different and have their own perspectives and motivations. It was a delight to get to know them and realize I would die for them.

3: The Romance

This space opera is quite heavy on the romance, which is great for me because I love a good romance. However, if that’s not what you enjoy, I’d recommend something else.

There are two main pairings, Haven and Ocean (Gemini, my guy, I love you, but BACK OFF), and Phoenix and Teo. They both mean the world to me. Neither are weird or feel forced. I think they’re really well done. I’m rooting for them!

4: Characters

As usual with my reviews, I’m only going to talk about the characters and dynamics I have something to say about.

Ocean’s captain is Dae Song, my nemesis, who I’m really hoping we get both a decent amount of backstory and a character arc from. She’s difficult and selfish, but I think there’s a lot of room for her to grow.

Phoenix is a criminal with a heart of gold who ends up helping them. Yeah, his character is totally unrealistic. But do I care? Absolutely not. I love him.

Ocean and Teo’s friendship is so adorable. They’re cute and codependent, and I love them for that.

While I loved everything I saw from all the characters, I felt like we only scratched the surface of all of them. So, I’m hoping we spend enough time with them in later books.

5: Other Notes

As is often the case with softer space operas when compared to harder sci-fi, the science wasn’t quite there. The novel has the aesthetics of sci-fi without the pseudoscientific explanations. The world feels real, but most of the technology isn’t explained to us.

Mixing Romaja with English text was a bad idea. It’s just usually a bad idea to mix multiple languages like that, especially if you’re not including any kind of footnotes. Readers who don’t know Korean will either have to stop to look up the words (annoying, and they aren’t even written in Hangul so they won’t automatically translate) or ignore the text entirely (meaning readers are missing dialogue). There is a glossary at the back of the book, but personally, I’d recommend switching to footnotes.

Colonialism, capitalism, and identity aren’t explored much in this novel. But, most of this first book is set up for what I assume will be a series of 3-5 books (though, I couldn’t find anything saying how many there’d be), so I expect those themes to play a larger role later.

5: Conclusion

This novel was definitely exceptional for a debut. I can tell that Cho is going to kick ass in this genre. I can’t wait for the next one!

★★★★★ (4.5/5)

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This book is exactly what you would expect, dazzling adventurous. I won’t lie I was requesting this one because of the description that I assume will be on the dust jacket, and that summarizes it best. Can’t wait to read more from this author.

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I'm not sure why I was expecting this to be a stand alone story....it's not! This book ends just as the action really gets going and some of the pieces of the story start falling into place, but absolutely nothing is resolved. I was not mentally prepared to have to wait for another book to find out what happens to these characters. That being said, by the end I was starting to get attached to these characters, and I absolutely want to find out what happens to them, so there better be another book, and I better not have to wait too long for it!

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Pirates, space ships, and flying action. A cozy found family space fantasy.

Years ago, Ocean saved a crewmate's life and lost her job & high level piloting license as a reward. Now the only job open to her is on a cheap ship with an even cheaper captain. Ocean finds herself drifting passively through life, her introverted personality not helping matters. When her closest friend's life is in danger, Ocean finds herself in the middle of a political conflict. With bullets flying and a mysterious enemy attacking her friend & his family, Ocean needs to decide if she's willing to get involved in another fight.

It took me some time to puzzle out the direction and pieces of this book, and I still don't understand over half of the Korean words thrown in, but once I caught onto the flow of the story, it turned out to be pretty good. The book starts off flipping between different characters, and I didn't have enough time to read it in a single sitting, so by the time I picked it up again, I'd half forgotten who was who. But the story and characters became clearer after the first couple of chapters, and i ended up learning a few Korean words. There's a (humorous) glossary at the end of the book that i should've referenced while reading.

The book focuses on Ocean, but it also gives some of her friends and crewmates their own subplots.

Ocean is a highly talented pilot who was demoted to the lowest possible license level, forcing her to accept a job with a cheap, lousy captain who cares more about making cash than about the lives of her crew.

Teo, one of the side characters who occasionally gets his own POV, is the spoiled son of a famous wealthy family. He's always depended on his friends and family, but after escaping an assassination attempt, Teo realizes that he can't keep relying on others to solve his issues.

Haven comes from a strict religious background. Having never left his planet before, Haven finds himself exposed to new ideas, forcing him to question and expand his boundaries.

There are a couple of other crew members, and each one has a unique personality. Ocean was burned the last time she stepped out of line to help someone. With her crew at her back, Ocean will need to decide if she's willing to do so again, and to hopefully bring some meaning back into her life.

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