Being a part of The Jewish Book of Horror is a tremendous honor for me. I’ve never shied away from expressing my Jewish identity in print – see also Charnel Houses of Europe: The Shoah for Wraith: The Oblivion – but it was an anthology called Wandering Stars that convinced me I could do it, back in the day.
Edited by Jack Dann, the book is a collection of science fiction stories by Jewish authors. I found it on the basement shelves when I was growing up, as my Dad’s science fiction collection lived down there along with most of Mom’s coffee table books. I was accustomed to just cruising Dad’s shelves and picking books at random – it’s how I ended up reading Babel-17 at far too young an age, and Heinlein at an age when I was still impressionable to give credence to some of his wackier ideas, but I digress. One day I grabbed Wandering Stars and sat down to read it, and it made a world of difference.
I’m not going to say that I loved every story, because I didn’t. But I loved a lot of them, and it was my first introduction Harlan Ellison, who contributed the frankly bonkers but also oddly reverent “I’m Looking For Kadak”. And I realized as I read it that I shared something with every writer in that book, and that they shared something with me.
I’ve never crossed paths with Jack Dann, though when I was frog-marched into the MITSFS by an ex-girlfriend I noticed his membership credentials were right next to mine in the log book. But wherever he is, I owe him a thank you.