Jewish Contributions to SF, Fantasy, and Comics

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,915
Elsewhere

The Real Necronomicon: Rabbi Jacob Eliezer

I have lamented the complacent ignorance of Americans, at least, regarding the Jews. In my own experience in Oregon and the Midwest, it appears that many people "know" little more about Jews than that Hitler tried to exterminate them.

Here, I would invite the compilation of material relating to contributions by Jewish authors, artists, etc. to our cherished genre of science fiction and fantasy, and to popular entertainments such as comics. I know there's a lot out there, but I don't have a great deal at my fingertips. My hunch is that some of these contributions will be by creators who "happen to be" Jews and that the contributions will not be marked by obvious "Jewishness," while other contributions will be more distinctively Jewish.

I'll start the ball rolling by mentioning that many of the stories of Nobel prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991) belong to the category of literary supernatural fiction.

"Singer’s stories about supernatural occurrences are neither folkish nor preciously magical-realist, but genuinely uncanny and often frightening studies of human nature."

How Isaac Bashevis Singer Used Folk Tales to Convey 20th-Century Cruelty
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
4,375
Avram Davidson springs to mind: he was Jewish, although I don't recall his stories being especially about the experiences of the Jews. I liked his short stories - they were quirky and hard to categorise, sometimes quite dense. It's been a while since I read them, but I still remember the twists and endings of several of them.

Lavie Tidhar has written some overtly Jewish-themed SFF. I've not read any of it, but it sounds interesting, and he seems very well-regarded.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,915
I've started a thread in the Classic SF section on Davidson, & we'll see if anyone has comments. Thanks, Toby.

Avram Davidson

This has already resulted in my breaking my resolution (ha) not to buy any more books till Christmas time. When I saw that Schoenherr cover art for Masters of the Maze and read that Algis Budrys praised it, I thought it was probably worth some attention.
 
Last edited:

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
22,351
Location
Highlands
many people "know" little more about Jews than that Hitler tried to exterminate them
I think you do a disservice - Christianity includes a lot of Jewish history, which I suspect many of the people you include would be aware of. :)

Additionally, many Jewish writers appear to have no inclination to advertise themselves as Jewish, and Jewish culture is inevitably insular and non-proselytizing. A modern example would be Neil Gaiman, who is very focused on exploring characters and myth, but not apparently interested in exploring his Jewish roots in the fiction he publishes.

Similar with film and TV - there are a lot of famous actors who are Jewish, but do little to bring attention to it. However, there's a surprising amount of Jewish culture in the media we consume - I doubt there are many people here who have never encountered the terms Bar Mitzvah or Hannukah, even if they don't properly understand them.

EDIT: I'm currently reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons, and one of the main characters describes themselves as Jewish, though I suspect it's written from an outside perspective.
 
Last edited:

Ray Pullar

Licensed operator
Joined
Dec 11, 2011
Messages
148
Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Cyril Kornbluth, Donald Wollheim, Horace Gold, Scott Meredith (org. Feldman), Judith Merrill (org. Zissman), Harlan Ellison, Joanna Russ, David Brin.
 
Last edited:

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,915
Brian, speaking as a Christian, yes, I agree, but I think that a lot of the Jewishness in Christianity tends to be leached out of American Christianity, with everything from Plato to liberal humanism and progressivism substituted. If you look at it, a lot of the Christian elements that cultural elites disdain are the ones with Jewish roots. For example, the sacrifices of grains and, especially, animals in the Temple were held be early Christians to be "types" that were fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ. There's quite a bit about the shedding of Christ's blood in the Christian scriptures. Right, and how unappealing that is to cultural elites and to the Christians who aspire to be accepted thereby and therein.
 

vanye

Human, c.o. Earth
Joined
Mar 18, 2012
Messages
710
Location
Germany
The religious affiliation of an author generally is not foremost in my mind when I read for enjoyment. It might be if I attempt a critical reading against the grain, but otherwise it smacks too much of discrimination to sort authors by such labels.
 

soulsinging

the dude abides
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
2,194
This makes me think of the Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon. Not SFF per se, but a great novel by a Jewish author about two Jewish men that create a popular comic book hero in the WWII era golden age. Highly recommend it!
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,915
What about that one about a Yiddish-speaking colony in Alaska or something of the sort? I haven't read that. Was that good?
 

Teresa Edgerton

Goblin Princess
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2004
Messages
13,423
Location
California
The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker. Lots of Jewish folklore, although it takes place in New York at the very end of the 19th century. A fairly recent book, but it was very well-received and I think destined to become a classic.
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
4,375
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. I've not read it but apparently it's pretty good.
 

chrispenycate

resident pedantissimo
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
7,158
Location
West Sussex
No-one read Harry Turtledove? Lots of alternative histories, not spectacularly Judaic themes, but even his Worldwar books have a lot of Jewish protagonists, as does (grins) The case of the Toxic Spell Dump. And in his 'Darkness' hexology, even if the 'Jews' are never specified it's pretty clear who they are.
 

soulsinging

the dude abides
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
2,194
What about that one about a Yiddish-speaking colony in Alaska or something of the sort? I haven't read that. Was that good?
I enjoyed it quite a bit actually, though it was more alternate history and noir mystery than SFF. It's about an investigation into a crime committed in the Jewish state that was created in Alaska instead of Israel after WWII.
 

Similar threads

Top