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[Opinion] Techno Thriller

Posted January. 06, 2009 06:35,   


The technology thriller is a popular novel genre in the United States. A typical book usually features a dynamic plot based on expertise on medicine and law. Since the novel is full of twists and turns, making it difficult to predict the ending, readers must continue to rack their brains to wrestle with the figures in the novel. The works are also prime candidates for Hollywood adaptations.

Writing a techno thriller requires expertise that can surprise even experts and skill in writing novels. Though Stephen King is an exception, many techno thriller writers are experts-turned-writers. Robin Cook, who pioneered the medical thriller with books such as “Mutation” and “Coma,” and the late Michael Crichton, the author of “Jurassic Park” and “Prey,” both graduated from the Harvard Medical School. John Grisham, the writer of “The Pelican Brief,” “Rainmaker” and “The Client,” is a lawyer.

The genre is popular in Korea as well, probably because the younger generation grew up reading Stephen King and Dan Brown and watching “CSI” or “House.” What is missing, however, is a Korean techno thriller, particularly in science fiction. This is because few Korean experts turn to writing like in the United States, and writers lack the expertise to write techno thrillers. Many authors avoid this genre because they find it vulgar.

Kim Tak-hwan, a professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology who wrote “The Immortal Admiral Yi Soon-shin,” and fellow professor Jeong Jae-seung, who authored “Jeong Jae-seung’s Science Concert,” have begun writing a techno thriller serial on The Dong-A Ilbo. Kim is a huge fan of the genre and says he learned how to write a novel from authors Grisham and Crichton. Jeong says he wants to explore the meaning of existence using scientific material including neurology and robotics. The title of the serial is “The Blind Watchmaker,” the same title as the book written by Oxford professor Richard Dawkins. A Korean serial imagined by a scientist and writer will make reading the morning newspaper a pleasure.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)