"Infinity", "Mystery", and "Huge". When we imagine the universe, we usually think of these words. Human research on the universe has been conducted countless times in the past, but it still seems difficult to know everything. But what if we could explore space? How would it feel to face another civilization alive and breathing? We just close our eyes and travel through space, even in our imagination.
"Aren't we just increasing the sum of loneliness that exists in the universe?"
<If We Can't Go at the Speed of Light (2019)>
An old woman sits on an old space station. Her name is Anna. She is constantly waiting for a spaceship to a third planet, Slenfonia. It is a planet where her husband and son migrated in the past. As the space exploration era opened and it became possible to travel to a distant planet, people, including Anna's husband and son, migrated to one with a better living environment. Anna was a scientist who was studying "deep freezing," a human refrigeration technology at the time. Deep freezing is a technology that allows humans to go to their desired destinations while sleeping. Since she had yet to finalize her study, she had sent her family to Slenfonia first and would follow them after the project. However, the emergence of new technologies changes the paradigm of space exploration. This causes the route to Slenfonia to be closed. She despairs at the sudden news. More than a hundred years have passed, but she still thinks wistfully about the planet. She tries to get there in her small spaceship to relieve her longing. Can Anna reach Slenfonia which is tens of thousands of light-years of interstellar distance away?
This book is a collection of science fiction stories by Kim Choyeop. It consists of a total of seven short stories. The representative work "If We Can't Go at the Speed of Light" tells the story of Anna, a female scientist. Anna, who has a deep longing for her family, leaves for Slenfonia, where she cannot be reached even at the speed of light. It's a journey that has no possibility of success, but readers who empathize with Anna's story may want her wish to come true. This is because readers know that her feelings will only be resolved when she leaves the old space station. The main characters in the other six novels have their own stories, including a story about a woman who is cut off from the world through marriage and pregnancy, and a female astronaut who is discriminated against for being an Asian woman. They all live in a future era when cutting-edge technology has been invented. However, their lives are not much different from those of minorities now. Readers can consider the structural problems of our society while reading their stories. After all, this book teaches a great lesson that what is needed in the coming future is understanding and empathy for different beings.
"What do you like about being up here?"
-Kowalsky & Ryan
Ryan and Kowalsky are working on repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. Enjoying the beautiful universe, they are fulfilling their duties. Suddenly the remnants of satellites that had exploded due to Russian-fired missiles hit them. The collision between the debris and the telescope causes Ryan to become disconnected. She is left alone in space in danger of dying. But Kowalsky finds her and they return together to the space shuttle. Having confirmed that the shuttle has already been heavily damaged by satellite debris, they decide to head to the International Space Station. Just before arriving there, Ryan's oxygen tank and Kowalsky's fuel are about to run out. Feeling that both are on the verge of dying at this rate, Kowalsky sacrifices his life to save Ryan. In the absence of all communication and Kowalsky, Ryan struggles to get to Earth by herself. However, frustrated by the situation where things continuously go against her, she eventually loses her will to live and attempts suicide. At that time, Kowalsky appears in front of her as an illusion, gives her some advice, and leaves with words of support. Ryan regains the will to live again and tries to return to Earth. Will she be able to return to Earth safely?
"Gravity" is a movie about the process of the protagonist Ryan Stone being left alone in space and returning to Earth. When talking about well-made space movies, this move is often mentioned, and it is a film that captures the vast and still universe on screen. At the beginning of the movie, when Kowalski asks Ryan what she likes best about the universe, she replies that it is the silence. However, after being left alone in space and experiencing several crises, she screams, "I hate space!" This indicates well that the quietness of the universe brings peace and fear at the same time. Furthermore, Ryan's fear is further maximized by the use of first-person cameras. The audience admires the shots that express the beautiful universe, but they experience fear at the same time by immersing themselves in the main character's situation. During the short running time of 90 minutes, the audience can feel the various wonders of the universe.