Thrilling Hebrew Tales! On Jewish Vampires, Golems, Tzaddiks, and HebrewPunk

By | Tagged: culture

Lavie Tidhar’s new novel An Occupation of Angels is available this week. He will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog.

I’ve got a feeling that, in years from now, with many novels, novellas, and collections all out (I’ll have 3 novels out just next year, if it’s an indication), when oil becomes scarce and there’ll be a Chinese colony on the moon, I’ll still be that

I should probably explain…

A few years ago, I became irritated enough with fantasy fiction to do something about it. When I get asked about it, I normally say it was the vampires what did it. It used to drive me insane that the underlying assumption of – well, pretty much all – vampire novels and movies, was that Christianity worked.

After all, we all know what vampires are afraid of. Crosses and holy water, right?

Which is strange, and a little uncomfortable, if you happen to be Jewish.

Because, like the Aryan elves of fantasy literature, there is a whole planetary mass of underlying assumptions of cultural dominance behind those “silly stories about unreal things”. And Jews don’t belong, they seem to say, in fantasy.

This goes back a long way, of course. The most important editor of American science fiction was John W. Campbell, revered to this day, with a bunch of awards named after him. By all accounts he was a lovely, if somewhat eccentric, guy (he launched L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics – later Scientology – in a 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, after all). There was only one thing about Campbell – he thought the best people were white, western European people, and he felt that the “readers” wouldn’t appreciate Jewish names in his magazine. Isaac Asimov, the most famous Jewish SF writer to this day, writes about it in his autobiography – and how lucky he was to get published under his own name – but at least one other writer wasn’t so lucky. Jews could write this kind of stuff, as long as they weren’t too Jewish.

Posted on November 8, 2010

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