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Three Partitions by Bogi Takács

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Bogi Takács is another author who, like Benjanun Sriduangkaew, writes very intersectional fiction, fiction that matches eir intersectional life as a Hungarian Jewish genderqueer author studying in the United States of America. Giganotosaurus, as with Sriduangkaew, is where I found this particular piece (April 2014 issue), and again, it’s in that interesting space between short story and novella, too short for one and too long for the other…

Three Partitions is, perhaps, best read as someone with at least a better-than-passing familiarity with Jewish faith and culture; my paternal relatives being practicing Jews, that’s something I bring to my reading of this story. It focuses on the life of a Jewish settlement on a planet that is, essentially, Lovelock taken to the next level; the conflict arises not out of any inherent problems with Judaism on another planet, but with how human insularity and dislike of differences interacts with a planet that needs an intermediary… but one who it must, essentially, possess in order to communicate through. The three partitions of the title are the mechitza, curtains used in Orthodox synagogues to separate male and female worshippers; here, there is a third partition, for the intermediary who is neither male nor female. That is, essentially, a secondary characteristic of her difference, the primary one being her reliance on the community to keep her whole; but it is a marked one, that marks her as apart from the rest of the community. Takács approach to writing about this is fantastic, and eir sympathy for Adira, the agendered intermediary, is very clear.

The actual plot is very briefly summable up as Chani, a woman in the settlement, coming to terms with both the planetmind and Adira’s status as its intermediary, and then trying to force the settlement to do the same. Takács is very sympathetic to her ignorance and failure of empathy, and impressive feat for an author who must have suffered much from exactly that; but Three Partitions really takes off in the back half when Chani’s sympathy becomes evangelistic and she plots how to ensure the rest of the community understand the reality of the situation. It’s a deftly handled, simple, slim plot; Takács certainly knows eir craft with that, as e uses Jewish culture and science fictional tropes together to create a story that really draws the reader along. It does use some, at times, rather frustrating elements – telepathy that doesn’t seem to have clear consistency, a precognitive who shares information with his acolytes more sparingly and more manipulatively than Dumbledore – but overall this is a story that works, and works very well at its length.

Giganotosaurus is quickly looking like it will be my go-to for queer genre short fiction, and it is for stories like Three Partitions and authors like Bogi Takács that this is the case. I commend it to you.

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4 Comments

  1. Bogi Takács says:

    Thank you for your review! FYI, I am not actually studying in the US yet; I’ve been admitted and I will start in August if I get my student visa, G-d willing.

    Also, Adira identifies as a woman, which is why I consistently use “she”; but she could opt for anything else, of course. 🙂

    GNS has a bunch of interesting queer stuff. There is also A Man Not of Canaan by Alex Jeffers, which I reviewed a while back and I remember that when I posted it, I couldn’t find any other reviews of the story.

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