"Symbiosis Theory" (2019) by Choyeop Kim


for adult division, 2022 essay competition


The Symbiosis Theory” is posted at CLARKESWORLD website.
Click HERE to read the "Symbiosis Theory".
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PROMPT for “Symbiosis Theory”

Symbiosis Theory” poses plenty of questions and provides both implicit and explicit answers while also theorizing about its central theme. This is a story in which the ideas serve as the action and weave the early mysteries into thematic questions at the end.

What are some of the questions that this story presents and how do they weave together to further the theme? Since the story itself is speculative (SF stands for “speculative fiction” as well as “science fiction”), feel free to be speculative in your essay, but be sure to make concrete reference to specific details in the story in your discussion.


Kim Choyeop holds a BA in chemistry and an MA in biochemistry from Pohang University of Science and Technology. She launched her literary career in 2017 when two of her stories won the grand and runner-up prizes at the 2017 Korean SF Awards. She then went on to win the Today’s Writer Award in 2019 and her debut short story collection, If We Can’t Go at the Speed of Light, was a record-breaking bestseller in South Korea. Kim is 28, which is relatively young for a writer, and that—along with her subject matter and forthright personality—is probably one of the reasons she is so popular among young readers. In a recent interview, she said:

“During my university years, I was largely interested in non-fiction about science . . . . Around the time of my graduation, I picked up a few books on novel writing. Before then, I had not tried writing fiction because I didn’t think I had what it took to become a novelist. But I realized that even without any natural talent I could still learn the techniques of novel writing through books and workshops. So, I started taking writing classes to hone my skills.”

Kim has also said that she enjoys converting abstract ideas, such as memory, emotion, consciousness, and relationships into concrete form. She wants to write about the abstractions of life in a concrete and scientific language while discovering new questions in the process. In fact, the structure of some of her short stories is based on the scientific approach of posing a question and seeking to answer it.



This short story "Symbiosis Theory" is included in
"CLARKESWORLD, Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine Issue 159 - December 2019"

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Audio version