Notes from the elders of zion's fiction
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.
What is Zion's fiction?
“The State of Israel may be regarded as the quintessential science fiction (SF) nation—the only country on the planet inspired by not one, but two seminal works of wonder: the Hebrew Bible and Zionist ideologue Theodor Herzl’s early-twentieth-century utopian novel Altneuland (Old New Land).
Jewish & Israeli SF/Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of literature in which realistic narratives are disrupted by unnatural or unexplainable events. The term “Science Fiction” (SF) emerged during the 1930s as a catchall descriptor for a publishing category with roots traceable to 18th-century Gothic romance, 19th-century scientific romance, and early 20th century pulp fiction. A subset of the fantastic – forms of expression that are not generally realistic – SF focuses on the world as it might have been, may be, or could become, depending on the occurrence, advent, or continuation of a particular set of seemingly possible cultural, social, scientific, or technological developments. As such, it is more realistic in orientation than fantasy, and contains various thematic preoccupations and subgenres, including Space Opera, Time Travel, Utopia/Dystopia, Artificial Intelligence/Robotics, Alternate History, and some offshoots of Horror, or Dark Fantasy.
Science Fiction in Israel
Israel, I am informed, seems to be having an SF moment. Or, from the unexpectedly enthusiastic early reviews of the anthology I co-edited with Emanuel Lottem, Zion’s Fiction: A Treasury of Israeli Speculative Literature, SF may be having an Israel moment. As well it should.
Praise for Zion's Fiction
The basic joy in science fiction and fantasy is the chance to look inside minds different from your own. Here’s your chance. Some bright minds in the nation of Israel have been exercising their imaginations, sharing their different dreams and nightmares, and the results are ours to enjoy.
– Larry Niven, Author
Great storytelling has been coming out of the Holy Land since the time of the Book of Genesis, and the tradition probably goes back a long way before that. This splendid new anthology will open a window on contemporary Israeli fantasy and science fiction — a stream of powerful work that we need to know more about.
– Robert Silverberg, SFWA Grand Master, author, editor, anthologist
What a rate of mutation! That mystic shepherds should become a people of priests and sacrifices, then transform under hard pressure into enduring, argumentative teachers, then again into scientific pioneers… and now? Zion’s Fiction explores the unlimited dreams of a people who have learned to stand on shifting ground. To face a future filled with danger and hope, forging into territory that can only be surveyed with the lamp of imagination on our brows.
– David Brin, author of EARTH and Existence
When my collection Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction was published eight hundred years ago in 1974, the estimable author Leo Rosten asked, “Jewish Science fiction?” In fact everybody asked…“What? Jewish science fiction?” Bless his heart, Leo Rosten went on to say that the book was “unexpected, delightful, and delirious,” and what seemed at first to be a “huh?” idea became a classic. And now…now, right now, we have the first ever anthology in the entire universe of Israeli fantasy and science fiction: Zion’s Fiction. What??? Israeli Science fiction??? So, nu? Go forth and read…and may you find Zion’s Fiction unexpected, delightful, and delirious!
– Jack Dann, author, anthologist
Israeli writers and readers need an anthology like this. May it accomplish for Israeli science fiction the wonders and mind-opening possibilities that science fiction offers.
– James Gunn (Z”L), author, anthologist, SF historian
The State of Israel’s rebirth was a miracle. Its survival to this day is a continuing miracle. It is a land of scientific and human miracles. It makes perfect sense that Israel’s rich and tumultuous culture should produce a blossoming science fiction community. A land that welcomes Ashkenazi, Sephardim, Ethiopian Jewry, Arabs, Russians — a melting pot of the world’s intellects and creators — will inevitably bless the world with its unique and uniquely varied visions!
– Richard A.Lupoff (Z”L), novelist, editor, SF historian, critic
Zion’s Fiction will supply a distinctive bright line to the spectrum of futuristic fiction, which stands in sore need of broadening, in the cause of promoting cross-cultural understanding as well as showcasing exciting new talent.
– Brian Stableford, author, SF historian