Books

Read This Action-Packed Korean Space Opera

Patricia Elzie-Tuttle is a writer, podcaster, librarian, and information fanatic who appreciates potatoes in every single one of their beautiful iterations. Patricia earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and Musical Theatre from the University of Southern California and an MLIS from San Jose State University. Her weekly newsletter, Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice offers self-improvement and mental health advice, essays, and resources that pull from her experience as a queer, Black, & Filipina person existing in the world. She is also doing the same on the Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice Podcast. More of her written work can also be found in Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy edited by Kelly Jensen, and, if you’re feeling spicy, in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Patricia has been a Book Riot contributor since 2016 and is currently co-host of the All the Books! podcast and one of the weekly writers of the Read This Book newsletter. She lives in Oakland, CA on unceded Ohlone land with her wife and a positively alarming amount of books. Find her on her Instagram, Bluesky, and LinkTree.

Today’s pick is a Korean space opera about love, grief, and the struggle to find one’s place in the solar system.

Book cover of Ocean’s Godori: A Novel by Elaine U. Cho

Ocean’s Godori by Elaine U. Cho

It’s the twenty-third century: Korea has long since united and has cultivated the pinnacle of space exploration. Korea is also the genesis of the Alliance, which is the space military that oversees the safety and order of the solar system, also referred to as “the solar.” Ocean Yoon is a space pilot who has had a major demotion because of a past incident, and we find her working on a much lower-class ship than she once did. When Ocean was eight years old, she was sent away from the Jeju province in Korea to the diplomat school, where she was expected to train to be a diplomat until she was 18. She dropped out of this program a year before graduation to join the Alliance. Ocean’s older brother had taught her how to fly spacecraft. As a person who loves to drive and also sometimes misses the satisfaction of driving a manual, I was tickled by the care and focus that the author takes when talking about how Ocean flies the spacecraft. I had never thought I would encounter a manual spaceship, but I am absolutely delighted by it.

Teo Anand is the younger son of a hugely wealthy family, perhaps the wealthiest family in the solar. The Anand family’s companies are responsible for a lot of terraforming and designing a lot of tech, especially the tech used by the Alliance. Ocean and Teo are unlikely friends, and as such, their friendship is kept secret. Their bond is the kind that can only be formed from shared trauma.

Ocean is part of a ragtag crew on a Class 4 ship, definitely not the class of ship that sees any action. The Captain, Dae, is a bit sketchy and very money-focused. She hires on a new medic, who is from the group of people who handle death and death rites. His name is Haven Sasani, and his people have very strict rules around physical touch — that is, it is forbidden to touch him. His people are also looked down upon by everyone else in the solar.

Dae takes on what is supposed to be a fairly underwhelming mission to go to a place where there is a bunch of abandoned technology and do some diagnostic work. Everything goes horribly wrong. Meanwhile, Teo, as a member of the Alliance, is part of the crew on a ship that is escorting Seonbi, an elite group of scholars, to Mars. Everything goes horribly wrong.

This book has a lot of moving parts and is beautifully choreographed. It was an incredibly fun read that I enjoyed, and I hope you do too.


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