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Table of Contents
“The Dope Fiend”
Special introduction by Laura Anne Gilman
"How well I recall, as a lad aged some ten years, circa 1937, reading Lavie Tidhar’s stirring adventures in such pulps as Thrilling Hebrew Tales and Yiddish Excitement Quarterly. Even then, these tales possessed a fascinating air of archaic menace and occult power. Now, some seventy years after their original publication, they positively radiate the uncanny sensibilities of a bygone era. What a cast of characters—the Rabbi, the Rat and the Tzaddik, as memorable as Doc Savage and his crew! And what a set of venues—the London underworld, the African jungles, and more! Plus robust menaces galore! Lavie Tidhar surpassed those who went before him, such as H. Rider Haggard, and inspired those who came after, viz, Avram Davidson and Alan Moore. Having these rousing romps gathered at last into the volume HebrewPunk marks a milestone in the literature of the fantastic."
—Paul Di Filippo, author of The Emperor of Gondwanaland and Other Stories
"Lavie Tidhar has staked out (no pun intended) his own territory by imagining a Judaic mystical alternative history into which he injects vampires, zombies, werewolves, Tzaddiks, golems, and Rabbis. These four stories are wondrous, adventurous, and thought-provoking."
—Ellen Datlow, editor of The Year’s Best Horror
"Here we have stories of Tzaddik, The Rat, the Rabbi... Lavie is mining ancient traditions and recent history to write stories of modern despair and a weird sort of redemptive compassion, messing with our expectations and always, always, leading with our humanity, even when those heroes are, by some standards, monsters."
—Laura Anne Gilman, author of Burning Bridges
"Lavie Tidhar has a unique and fascinating voice, as well as a good sense of history— both History Surreal and History Literary, as well as the more mundane kind. Imagine Hard-Boiled Kabbalah, a Godfather Rabbi whose gang includes vampires, werewolves and (naturally) golems. If you like your otherworld fun noir, have I got a book for you!"
—Kage Baker, author of In the Garden of Iden
"I did read the book, and the good thing is that I loved it—kick-ass kosher adventures. Tidhar writes a sort of intensified supernatural action-surrealism that fair rattles along and is full of surprises—not only plot-twists and thrills, but a level of conceptual surprise, a reinvigoration of some of the more tired conventions of the fantasy-horror genre. Zombies, golems, werewolves, Rabbis, Kabbala, it’s all here, and all saturated with a sense of exotic roundedness, an eerie solidity and reality. Not to be missed."
—Adam Roberts, author of Gradisyl
Posted February 7, 2009
"The Heist" is an excellent theme setter for this collection. This story has an urban fantasy flavor, only instead of the default setting of the world being based in nature worship-style paganism or Christianity the magic comes from a very distinct Jewish flavor.<BR/><BR/>Jimmy the Rat (a Jewish vampire), The Tzaddick (an immortal), The Rabbi (a powerful Jewish mystic) and his wickedly constructed golem Goldie come together to take down a mysterious and magical blood bank. Along the way they encounter peculiar versions of zombies and angels and a fortress that will boggle readers with its incredible level of security. It's the motley crew's job to break the fortress, to take down the blood bank and of course, collect their fee.<BR/><BR/>From there HebrewPunk moves to stories focusing on the trio individually.<BR/><BR/>"Transylvania Mission" pits The Rat against a band of Nazi werewolves searching for Dracula in the hopes of enlisting his help in their war. More could be said, but that, and awesome, sums up this tale.<BR/><BR/>"Uganda" mixes the Jewish flavor with distinct African ingredients. In this tale it's the turn of the century and The Rabbi is asked to investigate a tract of land in Eastern Africa which some people hope will become a new Jewish Homeland. Recognized as a mystic by a local tribe, he walks with them, getting a glimpse into the truth of the land, and possibly even the future. While this is a solid, interesting and richly flavored tale it feels unfinished at the end, perhaps because it's written as if compiled by a third party from multiple sources, a style that lends better to longer works.<BR/><BR/>Finally comes The Tzaddick in "The Dope Fiend", a 1920s set tale of voodoo and ghosts and how they surface in the Jewish mythos. Unfortunately this one is the weakest of the four. There are many major secondary characters that move in and out of the story, playing fairly important roles, but there's a feeling to them as if the reader should know who they are. It's not, however, guaranteed that they will. <BR/><BR/>Also a point of discontent with this story is The Tzaddick himself, who often comes off as if being a drug addict is all that he is. While there is a level of realism to this portrayal, in this story it keeps the reader from connecting with The Tzaddick as anything but a drug addict. This, and the previously mentioned crew of secondary characters, overpower the plot itself, as if Tidhar had more fun writing the characters than the story.<BR/><BR/>Altogether HebrewPunk is a collection that reveals interesting possibilities, especially for the Urban Fantasy genre who should sit up and take notice at how much space there still is in the genre outside the realm of nature based magic systems and romance melodramas.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.