For Israeli SF/F fans of a certain age, the tale is legion. In 1978, a quartet of genre aficionados from Tel Aviv University, including doctoral student in engineering Aharon Hauptman, law student and wife-to-be Tzipi Hauptman, and law students Eli Tene and Dubi Lerer, found themselves schmoozing in the Law School’s cafeteria about why Israel couldn’t support a science fiction/science fact magazine like, say, the American periodical Omni. Other than its insanely expensive production costs, one of them said, and a lawful source of world class stories, no biggie.
But who’d edit the thing? Why, Eli Tene, with the gang as editorial board (Hauptman, who first focused on science editing, would later replace Tene as the chief editor).
The second most expensive magazine on newsstands during its six years of existence, 1978 to 1984, Fantasia 2000 ran 44 issues (#45 was a 30th anniversary commemorative issue published in 2008) before it came crashing down amid a nation-wide economic crisis.
By then, though, it had introduced Israeli readers to a swath of world-renowned writers whose stories had first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction thanks to the good graces of then-editor Ed Ferman, who gave them permission to pick up and translate stories. Other features included a monthly popular science section, a lively letters column, book and movie reviews, and perhaps most importantly, ample space for home-grown stories.
In other words, for these six short years, F 2000 served as the kind of literary hothouse that had been a mainstay of the SF/F scene in the U.S. and U.K. since Astounding Stories, later Analog, began its run during the 1930s, and which would subsequently be replicated by Galaxy, F&SF and a few lesser-known publications.
Did this hothouse produce the kind of gems that Astounding, under the tutelage of editor John W. Campbell, became famous for (about those qualities he was infamous for, another Zyblog for another time)? Not quite. Science Fiction was not a known-enough quality in Israel for a “Nightfall” or “The Roads Must Roll” to roll off the presses. Cross-pollination, both within the magazines’ respective borders and between and among them all, would take its time.
It is fair to say, however, that Fantasia generated some memorable stories (one of which, “The Stern-Gerlach Mice,” appeared in Zion’s Fiction. It is fairer still to say that Fantasia played a seminal role in launching the vigorous and fecund SF/F scene that exploded into creation in Israel toward the end of the 1990s with such Israeli online magazines as Bli Panika, The 10th Dimension and the printed annual, Once Upon a Future.
Earlier this year, Fantasia 2000 editors Hauptman and Tene mounted the entire run of Fantasia 2000 onto the Net, a mitzvah of no small proportions, especially for those too young, or not even born, to grok the publication during its vaunted heyday. For our part, however, Hauptman has outdone himself by revitalizing the magazine as a webzine, Fantasia 2100 that publishes SF/F stories and a blog (“Madablog”) that publishes non-fiction articles (both are part of the new Website https://fantasia2000.
In one fell swoop, Hauptman and Tene solved the original publication’s problem (well, one of two problems — apart from the sheer expense of it, maintaining a crushing monthly publication schedule proved too much for a volunteer staff.) Now, F 2100 relies solely on the talents of a crackerjack editor and a solid web designer.
When F-2000 came out, one of us had the sense (not that anyone asked him to express it) that the new century would come crashing down so quickly it would soon render the title itself quaintly retro. Understand, he is not expressing his sorrow at still being alive. Indeed, he finds himself marveling at how the mere transposition of a number can make all the difference in the world.
Anyone remember Y2K?