cover image Zion’s Fiction: A Treasury of Israeli Speculative Literature

Zion’s Fiction: A Treasury of Israeli Speculative Literature

Edited by Sheldon Teitelbaum and Emanuel Lottem. Mandel Vilar, $24.95 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-942134-52-7

Though science fiction and fantasy were regarded with disdain in Israel until the late 1970s (as elucidated in the editors’ informative introduction), this anthology showcases an impressive array of 16 speculative stories by Israeli authors. Most show clear evidence of the author’s ethnicity and nationality; for example, Lavie Tidhar’s “The Smell of Orange Groves,” a moving account of a man’s efforts to be remembered by his descendants, includes references to the question of which robots are to be considered Jewish, mirroring a current real-world controversy, and also addresses continued Israeli economic dependence on foreign workers. Elana Gomel’s “Death in Jerusalem,” a dark fantasy with elements reminiscent of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s occasional flights of fancy, features a woman who learns that her husband is one of multiple tangible incarnations of means of death, along with one responsible for the Nazi genocide. Those that focus on other themes, such as Guy Hasson’s stellar “The Perfect Girl,” are still thought-provoking and imaginative. The high quality of work makes this anthology enjoyable and accessible for any fan of speculative fiction. (Sept.)