People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy by edited by Rachel Swirsky & Sean Wallace
My husband jokes that I bought this anthology only for the Peter S. Beagle story. This is, in fact, not entirely true. I had already read “Uncle Chiam and Aunt Rifke and the Angel,” but Beagle’s inclusion definitely gave this collection some weight. The deciding factor was Rachel Swirsky as co-editor. I’m not a huge reader of current fiction. If I get to a book within five years of it being published, that’s akin to traveling at light speed for me. The exception is my yearly attempt to read the Nebula and/or Hugo nominees before the winners are announced. Through this process, Rachel Swirsky’s short stories appeared on my radar and haven’t left.
I found the anthology to be strong on the whole, but there were a couple of stories, like Michael Blumlein’s “Fidelity: A Primer,” that seemed to lack speculative aspects. To me, speculative elements can’t entirely exist in a character’s mind. There has to be some…manifestation, or some true question about what’s real. Otherwise, it’s no different than literary fiction. I also would have like a little more future-set science fiction. Matthew Kressel’s sci-fi tale “A History Within Us” was a great way to end the anthology, but it made me realize what was missing.
Other outstanding stories:
“The Dybbuk in Love” by Sonya Taaffe – A beautiful, near-perfect short story.
“The Muldoon” by Glen Hirshberg – The creepiest thing I’ve read in a long while. I have Hirshberg’s The Two Sams heading my way.
“Golems I Have Known…” by Michael Chabon – A story is about being a writer. I remember now why I have The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay on my shelf, but I don’t understand why I haven’t read it.