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Historian Thomas Cahill, author of The Gifts of the Jews (Knopf, 1999) claimed that the Jews invented the very concept of history. They were the first, he said, to perceive time not as an endless circle of life, death and rebirth, but as the flight of an arrow, on a linear path to somewhere from somewhere.
However, what if time is not one arrow, but a volley of arrows? What if there are other timelines, other histories, other Jews? Would they still have a covenant with the one God? What would have become of their triumphs? Their defeats? Their suffering and their successes?
Award-winning author/editors Mark Shainblum and Andrea D. Lobel propose to answer this question in Other Covenants, the first-ever anthology of Jewish alternate history, to be published by ChiZine Publications in Fall 2019!
A WORD ABOUT THE ALTERNATE HISTORY GENRE
Other Covenants is open to authors of every background, and for those of you who may not be familiar with alternate history, here’s a quick thumbnail sketch of the genre.
A popular sub-genre of speculative fiction, alternative history weaves fictional narratives into the “what-ifs” of the past, and explores the infinite number of historical roads not taken in the past, present or future.
The Collins English Dictionary defines alternative history as “a genre of fiction in which the author speculates on how the course of history might have been altered if a particular historical event had had a different outcome.” According to Steven H. Silver, an American science fiction editor, alternate history requires three things:
Although alternate history is related to counterfactual history, it is distinct from it. The latter term is used by historians to refer to the academic, non-literary, question “what could have happened if. . .”
Now please don’t take the above as prescriptive or proscriptive. We understand that boundaries are vague, definitions are fuzzy, and the distinction between an alternate history and a counterfactual may be entirely in the eye of the beholder. But whatever voice you write in, please keep in mind that first and foremost we are looking for stories about characters.
Also, though alternate history originated as a sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy and may incorporate tropes like the many-worlds theory, parallel universes, time travel, mysticism and magic, these are not requirements. Use them if you want to, don’t use them if you don’t. The only speculative element required is the break from history as we know it, and the effect of that break on the Jewish people.
THE KIND OF THEMES WE MIGHT EXPLORE:
Please don’t take these as prescriptive or proscriptive either, the whole canvas of Jewish history is open to you – Biblical, historical and mythological:
What if • the Holocaust had never happened?
What if • Joseph's brothers had not sold him into slavery in Egypt?
What if • The State of Israel had been established in Uganda? Or Germany?
What if • Jesus’ followers had not broken with Judaism?
What if • The Jews had proselytized their faith door-to-door for a thousand years?
What if • The Romans had not destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple?
What if • Judaism became the dominant Western religion, but was riven by conflicts between the Temple priesthood and reformist rabbis who put the Torah and prayer before Temple ritual and sacrifice?
What if • The Spanish Inquisition had never occurred?
What if • Napoleon had not smashed down Europe's ghetto walls?
What if • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were reality… in some other universe?
ABOUT THE EDITORS
Mark Shainblum was born and raised in Montreal, where he and illustrator Gabriel Morrissette co-created the acclaimed comics series Northguard and Angloman with Gabriel Morrissette. Northguard has recently been revived by Chapterhouse Comics in Toronto.
In addition to writing comics, Mark has published science fiction in various magazine and anthology markets including On Spec and Island Dreams: Montreal Writers of the Fantastic. As an editor, he co-edited Arrowdreams: An Anthology of Alternate Canadas with John Dupuis in 1998 and Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen in 2016 with Claude Lalumière.
Mark shared an Aurora Award with John Dupuis in 1999 for Arrowdreams, and in 2016 he was inducted into the Joe Shuster Awards Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame.
Andrea D. Lobel has been a writer and editor for over a decade, winning two awards for her work.
An ordained rabbi and university lecturer, she holds an M.A. in Religious Studies (McGill University), and a Ph.D. in Religion (Concordia University), specializing in the history of religion and science, astronomy and religion, celestial mythologies, calendars, magic, and religious authority in Judaism, as well as in the Hebrew Bible and its ancient Near Eastern context.
Her book, Under a Censored Sky: Astronomy and Rabbinic Authority in the Talmud Bavli and Related Literature, is forthcoming from Brill Publishers in 2018-19.
Mark and Andrea live in Ottawa with their daughter.