Dragons, Robots, and Golems


The best Jewish stories have always been the supernatural ones. The Red Sea splitting open; Saul’s visit to the Witch of Endor; medieval tales about golems.

The new collection People of the Book embraces the Jewish predilection for the fantastic. Subjects range from dybbuks, to folk magic, to a Jewish father who uses the power of hypnosis to escape from Nazi Germany. Some stories traffic in the schmaltz of shtetl humor and zeidas with magic fiddles.

But there are breathless, beautiful moments. Take, for instance, the opening line of Jane Yolen’s story “The Tsar’s Dragons”: “The dragons were harrowing the provinces again. They did that whenever the Tsar was upset with the Jews.” And MJL’s own guest-blogger Lavie Tidhar‘s story “Alienation and Love in the Hebrew Alphabet”–a quiet, pretty mystery that begins with aliens landing on a kibbutz.

This collection of future predictions and fantastic retakes of the past will make you think and it will make you wonder. And, even if science fiction isn’t ordinarily your thing, these stories will make you exceedingly proud of the People of the Book.

Recommended from JTA