Customer Reviews: Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction
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This book, first published in 1974, was billed as "the first time in a science fiction collection that the Jew -- and the richness of his themes and particular points of view -- will appear without a mask." Mask? What mask? The mask of non-Jewish pennames, for one thing. Did you know that "Clyde Crane Campbell" is really Horace L. Gold? Or that William Tenn is Phillip Klass? Heck, even "Jack Dann" doesn't sound very Jewish. As Isaac Asimov points out in his intro to this book, many Jewish F&SF writers of the pulp era used gentile-sounding pennames to get published, because antisemitism kept people with names like "Chaim Ishkowitz" out of print. Asimov was the first Jewish SF writer to use his own ethnic-sounding name because, as he explains in the introduction, "I didn't know any better." (Asimov's intro, entitled "Why Me?", is a real gem -- be sure to read it!)
Jews also come out of the closet in the stories themselves. In most F&SF of the time (and even today) you rarely see an openly Jewish character or theme. Here in "Wandering Stars," we meet futuristic rabbis, Hasidim, dybbuks, golems and more. Some of the stories are humorous, others are spine-chilling. "Gather Blue Roses" falls into the second category: Imagine a highly-developed empath trapped in a Nazi concentration camp... Then there's "Trouble with Water," which is more of a fantasy, as is the I.B. Singer classic, "Yachid and Yachidah." Two of the stories also deal with the theme of gilgul (reincarnation): "The Jewbird" by Bernard Malamud, and "I'm Looking for Kadak" by Harlan Ellison.
One thing which struck me about this collection is how many of the stories assume that Jews will still be persecuted in the distant future. William Tenn's "On Venus have we got a Rabbi" actually uses persecution as the definition of "Jewishness" on a planet of non-humanoids. In "Paradise Last," Jews who score well on standardized achievement tests are "rewarded" with a planet of their own -- and thereby removed from mainstream society. These are good stories, but I would like to think that there could be a better future-vision for my people. Still, this anthology was ground-breaking in its time, and remains a good read today.
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on July 8, 1998
This 25th anniversary edition is very welcome. My 1974 paperback, which I have cherished and handled with care, deserves to be retired. My husband and I never tire of rereading some of the stories. His favorite is Malamud's "The Jewbird" and mine is Singer's "Jachid and Jechidah".
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on May 21, 1998
This book has been long out of print (the copyright is 1974), so I'm very glad to see it back in print.
This is a collection of classic short stories by some great writers, both in and out of the SF field. They include William Tenn, Avram Davidson, Isaac Asimov, Carol Carr, Robert Silverberg, Horace L. Gold, Pamela Sargent, Bernard Malamud, George Alec Effinger, Robert Sheckley, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. It's notable also for the only laugh-out-loud story that I've ever read from Harlan Ellison.
My only complaint, if you could call it that, is that a newer version of this anthology is long overdue. I recommend this book highly and without reservations.
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on January 30, 2002
The stories here address Jewish themes, but they also address more universally human themes. The best science fiction is as much about the characters and their motives as about technology. The truly sublime stuff gives us an insight into how technology affects the character's motives.
The stories in this book range from the merely great to the truly sublime. Most are humorous and these tend to be the most memorable. This book has quickly become an old friend I pick up when I don't have the energy to read a new book.
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on December 13, 2001
I read this book in its first release over twenty years ago. I lent my book out to many of my friends and eventually lost track of it. I just had to have another copy so I bought it once again. "Unto the Fourth Generation" was my introduction to Isaac Asimov and led to my love of his writing over the years. "Look, You Think You've Got Troubles" by Carol Carr is a humorous look at futuristic bigotry ... I think of it as a jewish Archie Bunker in space. All of these short stories are excellent and I look forward to re-reading each and every one of them..
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on January 11, 2001
Have you ever found a book that you simply fall in love with for no reason at all? I will confess, WANDERING STARS has enchanted me.
STARS is a book that transcends its target market. It is more than science fiction, more than Jewish. Its themes are universal, its stories are written for those of us who are solidly human.
That such a diverse group of writers could contribute to such a well-rounded anthology is not this book's biggest surprise. The laughter you hear rippling over each page takes that honor.
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on April 27, 2009
This is a very enjoyable and sometimes challenging collection of short-stories by Jewish Science Fiction and fantasy authors. They tend to fall into three categories of story types. The folkloric such as Avram Davidson's two frightening stories " The Golem" and " Goslin Day" as well as the more famous works of Bernard Malamud's satire "The Jew-Bird" and I.B. Singer's mysterious " Jachid and Jachida". The second category is the taking of familiar Jewish themes such as assimilation and confused identities and working them into a science fiction format, the most intelligent being the hilarious " The Dybukk of Mazel Tov IV" by Robert Siverberg and the Orwellian " Paradise Last " by Geo.Alec Effinger. Then there is those that fall outside of the first two categories and are more inventive such as the idea of the talking city in Robert Sheckley's " Street of Dreams, Feet of Clay" and the psychic child of a holocaust survivor in Pamela Sargeant's " Gather Blue Roses" which probably ranks as my personal favourite in this strong collection. The rest including works by some famous writers fall short of the others mentioned and this is mainly due to the fact that many secular Jewish writers seem to find it hard to write Jewish characters without resorting to over used Jewish stereotypes. The hectoring wife/smoothering mother, the put upon shlemiel of a father who can also be a grobber vulgarian when he wants to be.It becomes tiresome to read dialogue which starts with " Nu?" even if it is put into the mouth of an orthodox Jewish alien with a caterpillar body and several arms. The frequency of this lets an otherwise excellent collection down.However I would recommend this book for the the vast entertainment value it provides.
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on February 19, 2015
an anthology
published--2009 ----- 13 stories---239 pages..

U doNOT have to be JEWISH 2 enjoy!. Stories that make
.........THOUGHT PRoVkING.

ALSO-----full of
wit--culture--lore--humor-sadness-cynicism-& FAITH.

i especially like-

has a JEWISH dictionary in the back of book.

bette 65 aries--OKLA CITY
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on March 9, 2016
I'm a Jew, therefore reading Jewish idioms by aliens or Jewish typical scenes happening in Mars is a sweet idea. However, it is repeating itself, it is too much of the Jewish issues and too less of the science fiction. It is too much reminding of old Jewish stories (mid 20th century) and far from anything contemporary related to Judaism. Bottom line is that I closed the book after reading only third of it.
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on April 17, 2011
I am not much of a fan of science fiction. I purchased it because it was a re-print from Jewish Lights Publishing. It had stories that had deeper truth. If you like science fiction, you will certianly enjoy this one. A read for me, but not a read again.
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