Size / / /

Tales of the Chinese Zodiac #12 of 12

goat icon

It came as a surprise to no one except Yuhan himself that, in the Year of the Goat, he fell in love with one.

She was particularly beautiful, his goat, with a gleaming coat of silver threads and small wooden wheels instead of hooves. But people frowned on overt goat love, even in the remote village of Sunrise, and Yuhan was forced to keep his love hidden, both literally and figuratively.

Yuhan rolled his goat up a long, winding path in the nearby mountains until he reached a small but cozy cave.

"Here you shall be protected from the wind and rain, from the early morning frost, and from the floods of springtime."

The goat said nothing, but simply regarded him with the dull brown circles of her eyes.

Her silence didn't deter Yuhan. In fact, he redoubled his efforts to win her affection by climbing the trail to her cave not merely once or twice a day, but a full dozen times, his arms laden with gifts and treats to amuse her and bind her heart to his.

But Yuhan's work suffered. He was the town's only cobbler, and he'd never been more than just adequate at the task. The weather grew colder, the rains fell harder, and the number of shoes Yuhan needed to mend swelled as quickly as his love for the goat. When he wasn't visiting his true love, Yuhan was making himself new shoes, for just one day's worth of treks up the mountain and back ruined his soles and covered his feet in blisters.

And still, the goat refused to return Yuhan's love.

Finally, after months of wooing, Yuhan grew too weak to make the journey up the mountain. His bloody feet had swollen to almost twice their normal size and throbbed painfully. The citizens of Sunrise were angry at the poor condition of their shoes, and Yuhan was forced to keep his door bolted shut and the curtains drawn over his two small windows. He thought of his goat, alone in that dark cave in the mountain, and for the first time, his heart did not threaten to break with the pain of unrequited love.

"Perhaps it was not meant to be," Yuhan whispered, and his heart lightened at the thought. "Perhaps next time, I will fall in love with a woman, and she will tend to my wounds and help me in my business, and let me kiss her."

But the wise people of Sunrise knew better, for it was soon to be the Year of the Monkey, and they had already fashioned a most beautiful specimen with fur of curled bronze and teeth of molded sugar.


Jenn Reese photo


Jenn Reese has published stories in cool places like Polyphony 4, Flytrap, Strange Horizons, and various anthologies. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she practices martial arts, plays strategy games, and laments the loss of Buffy. You can follow her adventures at her website. To contact her, send her email at jenn@sff.net. Her previous appearances in Strange Horizons can be found in our archive.
Current Issue
30 Jan 2023

In January 2022, the reviews department at Strange Horizons, led at the time by Maureen Kincaid Speller, published our first special issue with a focus on SF criticism. We were incredibly proud of this issue, and heartened by how many people seemed to feel, with us, that criticism of the kind we publish was important; that it was creative, transformative, worthwhile. We’d been editing the reviews section for a few years at this point, and the process of putting together this special, and the reception it got, felt like a kind of renewal—a reminder of why we cared so much.
It is probably impossible to understand how transformative all of this could be unless you have actually been on the receiving end.
Some of our reviewers offer recollections of Maureen Kincaid Speller.
When I first told Maureen Kincaid Speller that A Closed and Common Orbit was among my favourite current works of science fiction she did not agree with me. Five years later, I'm trying to work out how I came to that perspective myself.
Cloud Atlas can be expressed as ABC[P]YZY[P]CBA. The Actual Star , however, would be depicted as A[P]ZA[P]ZA[P]Z (and so on).
a ghostly airship / sorting and discarding to a pattern that isn’t available to those who are part of it / now attempting to deal with the utterly unknowable
Most likely you’d have questioned the premise, / done it well and kindly then moved on
In this special episode of Critical Friends, the Strange Horizons SFF criticism podcast, reviews editors Aisha Subramanian and Dan Hartland introduce audio from a 2018 recording for Jonah Sutton-Morse’s podcast Cabbages and Kings which included Maureen Kincaid Speller discussing with Aisha and Jonah three books: Everfair by Nisi Shawl, Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan, and The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar.
Criticism was equally an extension of Maureen’s generosity. She not only made space for the text, listening and responding to its own otherness, but she also made space for her readers. Each review was an invitation, a gift to inquire further, to think more deeply and more sensitively about what it is we do when we read.
In the vast traditions that inspire SF worldbuilding, what will be reclaimed and reinvented, and what will be discarded? How do narratives on the periphery speak to and interact with each other in their local contexts, rather than in opposition to the dominant structures of white Western hegemonic culture? What dynamics and possibilities are revealed in the repositioning of these narratives?
Tuesday: Genre Fiction: The Roaring Years by Peter Nicholls 
Wednesday: HellSans by Ever Dundas 
Thursday: Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052-2072 by M. E. O'Brien and Eman Abdelhadi 
Friday: House of the Dragon Season One 
Issue 23 Jan 2023
Issue 16 Jan 2023
Issue 9 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
2 Jan 2023
Welcome, fellow walkers of the jianghu.
Issue 2 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
Issue 19 Dec 2022
Issue 12 Dec 2022
Issue 5 Dec 2022
Issue 28 Nov 2022
By: RiverFlow
Translated by: Emily Jin
Issue 21 Nov 2022
Load More
%d bloggers like this: