Welcome, bienvenue and bruchim ha’ba’im to the revamped Zion’s Fiction website. After despairing of some of my requests that he arbitrarily move the digital furniture hither and tither, our designer, Nadav Almog, asked the million shekel question: What exactly is this site for? The answer, best we can tell, is to showcase the Zion’s Fiction project, which seeks to bring the best of Israeli SF/F to the attention of English speakers the world over. The purpose of this blog is to provide an arena for the writers and editors to sound off on matters pertinent to this mission.
Guess who gets to go first.
Emanuel and I have both been involved in the Israeli “Zyfy” scene since the 1970s, he as a translator of great repute, me as a book reviewer who managed to persuade the inimitable Fantasia 2000 (1978-1984) editor Aharon Hauptman to translate my work into Hebrew. Aharon eventually recruited me for the magazine’s editorial board, from which perch I did absolutely nothing. But it was like an honorary Aliya (ascent) both to the bima of science fiction and to the world of Hebrew letters, neither of which would have otherwise been provided me given my then lousy (okay, still pretty cruddy) Hebrew and the consuming demands of army service. It certainly helped me get a choice gig with The Jerusalem Post, writing the country’s first ever monthly SF/F & Horror roundup in a daily newspaper. Anglos who had to scour the shelves and flea markets for SF in those days will tell you how slim the pickings were, and how pricy. Thank you Alex Berlyne for the monthly gift baskets of review copies.
I left Israel in 1986 when it dawned on me once and for all that there was no future for English-language journalism there (or no future for me in it anyway). I got off the boat in Los Angeles and almost immediately landed a job as West Coast bureau chief for Cinefantastique, the greatest magazine about genre film and TV ever. I had learned in Israel that journalism provided you with the opportunity to invite yourself into people’s living rooms and ask impertinent questions. From that point of view, this job was insane! Lunch with Adrien Lyne? Breakfast with Paul Verhoven? Tea with Gene Roddenberry? You name the writer or director, I interviewed them. Not boasting (much), just saying.
The odd thing was, however, after some years doing this I was asked by a new Israeli magazine, The Jerusalem Report, to serve as their West Coast correspondent. Which, as you’ll see if you look at the Here and There section of this site, provided an outlet to renew, to paraphrase the late Leonard Cohen, my neurotic affiliations with Jewish SF. I did this with grateful aplomb.
I don’t know where the impulse to do Zion’s Fiction came from. Seriously, it was just one of those things that popped into my head. I know it came to the fore in 2014. And I know that it took a lot of time to get off the ground because the subject was not one that excited a lot of people, and because I read Hebrew fiction ever so s..l..o..w..l..y. I can say that without Robert Silverberg, who connected us with our agent, Eddie Schneider of the Jabberwocky Literary Agency, the first volume would never have happened.
We’re going to self publish volume II. After several years hawking the first volume we’re concluded that we don’t need someone else’s expertise to do so, or someone else’s imprint to get the book read. As self publishers, we believe that going our own way is the best route for putting money into the pockets of our writers. When we come up with the name of our new imprint, you’ll read about it here.
Agoura Hills, California