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Jews, Fantasy, and peripheral links - Input Junkie
February 26th, 2010
01:01 pm

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Jews, Fantasy, and peripheral links
There should a word for something that isn't very good itself, but somehow inspires good stuff. See also the original D&D rules.

Conspiracy is impossible under these circumstances!

From the continuing discussion....
A few words from autopope

(This is not a defense of Weingrad's thesis, but hopefully illustrative of the invisibility of Jews ... unlike PoC we don't stand out in a mostly-white crowd.)

I was on a panel at the 2007 worldcon with three other authors. Can't remember what we were discussing, but three-quarters of the way through Robert Silverberg (for it was he) launched into an impassioned five-minute tirade about how the public perception that SF is disproportionately written by Jews is an illusion (probably caused by youthful exposure to Isaac Asimov) and that in fact he was the only Jew on the panel.

At which point Cory Doctorow and I raised our hands, Silverbob looked betrayed, then everyone's eyes turned to the (single) non-Jewish panelist.


I'm reminded of Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday

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And somewhere in poking around, I found World SF, a handy blog for tracking more of the field, and it listed the toc for The Innsmouth Free Press Multiethnic Issue, coming out in June:
Sanford Allen – Kali Yuga
Nadia Bulkin – Red Goat, Black Goat
Gustavo Bondoni – Eyes in the Vastness of Forever
Raymond G. Falgui – The Hunger Houses
Travis King – The Doom that Came to Yamatai
Juan Miguel Marín – The Bats in the Walls
Mari Ness – Quoth the Cultist
Daniel José Older – Death on the Fine Line
Pamela Rentz – Estelle Makes the Casino Run
Charles R. Saunders – Jeroboam Henley’s Debt
Ekaterina Sedia – The Great Performance of Kadir Bey
Caleb Jordan Schulz – The Mountain that Eats Men
Bogi Takács – Bottomless Lake Bus Stop
Bryan Thao Worra – A Model Apartment

Just the titles are delightfully squamous and cosimicly horrifying.

*******

An essay that's actually about Jews and fantasy: Fantasy and the Jewish Question. It makes the rather reasonable point that one factor could be that Great Britain has made a strong showing in fantasy, and America has made a strong showing in science fiction, and that's going to affect the religious mix. I have no idea why there's an Atlantic split down the middle of sf, though. And Douglas Adams is science fiction, anyway, whatever science fiction is.

Something else that might want explaining from the comments to that essay:anna genoese said...

For around six years, I was an acquiring editor at a major publishing company. I spent quite a lot of time at conferences and in my blog (and the blogs of other people) and on mailing lists requesting people write/submit Jewish-themed paranormal romance, science fiction, or fantasy novels -- or even any genre novel at all with Jewish characters and culture.

I did not get one single submission. In six years. It was extremely disheartening.

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From:abigail_n
Date:February 26th, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
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There are, of course, plenty of important and influential British science fiction writers, of whom Douglas Adams is but one, but he started his work in the 70s. I was referring to the emergence of the two genres, and in the case of science fiction this occurred in the US in the 30s and 40s, while fantasy was a British phenomenon beginning in the late 19th/early 20th century, and didn't really gain the kind of cultural currency we're used to it having until The Lord of the Rings was published (in pirated editions, incidentally) in the US in the 60s.

The question of why there's an Atlantic divide between the two genres is a deep one that a more knowledgeable person than myself would probably have trouble answering decisively. Off the top of my head, I think that Britain in the first half of the 20th century was probably a much more skeptical place about the promise of technology and the future in general than the US was, especially during and right after WWII, which is when science fiction truly began to blossom. There are, however, probably many other factors involved.
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From:nancylebov
Date:February 27th, 2010 07:04 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the reminder that you were talking about the origins of the genres rather than permanent states.

Still, it seems remarkable that Pratchett and Rowling are British-- but the numbers of extremely famous and influential sf authors (whether fantasy or science fiction) are so small that it could just be coincidence.

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From:thnidu
Date:February 27th, 2010 04:15 am (UTC)
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"On Venus, Have We Got A Rabbi!", by Harlan Ellison. But of course that Wandering Stars anthology was quite the exception.
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From:nancylebov
Date:February 27th, 2010 06:59 am (UTC)
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The story really is by William Tenn.
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From:thnidu
Date:February 28th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
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Oops, thanks for the correction!
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From:whswhs
Date:February 28th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
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My experience has suggested that Jews, pagans, and atheists are all overrepresented in fandom, but not for the same reason.
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