edited by Lavie Tidhar and Rebecca Levene (Jurassic London)
Jews vs Aliens is a charity anthology supporting Mosac (Greenwich, South London), which provides practical and emotional support to non-abusing parents, carers and families of children who have been sexually abused.
But don’t buy it to support an excellent cause. Buy it because it is fascinating, and at times laugh-out-loud funny.
We start off with “Antaius Floating in the Heavens Among the Stars” by Andrea Phillips. Oy, gevalt, this alien wedding venue and catering company is a Jewish mother-of-the-bride’s nightmare. You could see the inescapable train wreck coming when the groom’s favorite food was “pigs in a blanket.” The place has a decent reputation, but the aliens who run it have lost their human advisor.
Welcome to Antaius Floating in the Heavens Among the Stars, the galaxy’s premiere spot for luxurious accommodation, fine dining, and views so beautiful they are capable of halting your autonomous biological functions temporarily!
Let’s just say the person who thought this was a good place to have a wedding won’t be invited to Seder next year.
“The Scapegoat Factory” by Ofir Touche Gaflais is possibly my favorite story in the collection. In the future some of the dead inexplicably reanimate, not as zombies but as real people. The Reamimated cannot get work, their families want nothing to do with them, and they cannot get out of it by dying again no matter how hard they try. It’s tough-going to be a reanimated person, especially if you are one of God’s (re-)Chosen People. But there is paying work as a scapegoat, and people blame the Jews for everything. Interesting resolution.
In “The Matter of Meroz” Rosanne Rabinowitz has a rabbi who describes manner of travel called “the leaping of the road,” or kefitzat haderech. It seems Aliens were here in the time of Deborah, and we blocked to road for them to return to the stars by “jaunting,” Alfred Bester-style. Should we reach out to these aliens in a time of need, or should the knowledge stay hidden on an acient scroll? Good story.
A meteorite sends us the rules for speaking the unpronounceable Name of G-d in “Alien Thoughts” by Eric Kaplan. It’s sent by something that wants us to have the knowledge so it can infect our world. We let it in, but manage to send it off elsewhere. And the consequences are unexpected.
“The Reluctant Jew” by Rachel Swirsky is set on a space station. Aliens are very interested in human religions, a crew member who is at best an agnostic has a vaguely Jewish background. Hey, presto – he’s ordered to reluctantly represent the Jews at a booth next to all the other showcased religions. For the good of inter-stellar relationships, don’t you know. Why the aliens are interested is . . . pretty cool.
It also includes “To Serve… Breakfast” by A&A author Jay Caselberg, “The Farm,” written by Elana Gomel, “Don’t Blink” by Gon Ben Ari, “Nameless and Shameless” by Lois H. Gresh, “The Ghetto” by Matthue Roth, and “Excision” by Naomi Alderman . You get a lot of fiction and support a great cause.