Sarah Pinsker. The Trans-Dimensional Horsemaster Rabbis of Mpumalanga Province. (Asimovs February 2014)

asimovs201402FWIW IMHO if I had been editor, I’d have asked for a name change for this story. Firstly, as I’m not a big fan of long story titles. Secondly, because long story titles like this tend to flag up humorous stories, and this story isn’t funny (fortunately, it’s not meant to be funny!). And thirdly, once you twig (if you’re British and you twig things, not sure what other English speaking countries use – cotton-on?) that it’s not a funny story, you realise that the story is in fact about trans-dimensional horsemaster rabbis of Mpumalanga province (except that they’re not all rabbis).

As one of the characters (an off-screen character, off-screen on account of his posthumous nature) is a photographer, Pinsker uses the sometimes-used (as opposed to oft-used) technique of interspersing descriptions of photographs by way of breaking up the narrative. Again, not the biggest fan of this.

But having said all of this, I can say I did like the narrative. Following the death of her fellow-photographer/photo-journalist husband, Yona heads off on an assignment into South Africa. There’s mystery about it – upon arrival at Jo’burg airport she’s blindfolded and driven several hours to a remote encampment, where she finds a community of ….

Nothing is explained (it’s not that kind of science fiction story) but it has a strong sense of place, and character, and gives a glimpse into a strange, nomadic community, and more than a glimpse into the mind of Yona, struggling with finding her own place in the world, and otherwise in danger of drifting in and out of it herself.

More from this issue of Asimov’s here, recent issues of Asimov’s here, and an issue by issue index of Asimov’s from 2000 here.

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