Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction, is a marvelous collection of short stories edited by Jack Dann. As the subtitle suggests, all thirteen stories concern Jews in fantastic situations. Some are tragic, others, hilarious. My copy was given to me by my brother's Rabbi, one of the coolest women I know. My family is about as Jewish as a ham sandwich, but my brother somehow managed to emerge quasi-religious. Both the Rabbi and the book made me feel a real connection with my heritage. As Isaac Asimov writes in the introduction to this lovely volume, "despite all my infidel ways and beliefs, I am Jewish enough."
So, on to the stories...
On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi* by William Tenn -- The Bulbas, a race of pillow-shaped aliens with tentacles, come to a Jewish colony of Venus, insisting that they are Jews as well. Largely based on Tevye the Dairyman by Sholom Aleichem.
The Golem by Avram Davidson -- The elderly Mr. and Mrs. Gumbeiner are enjoying a nice evening, when they are approached by a modern Golem. Instead of trembling in fear as he expects, they bicker over household chores.
Unto the Fourth Generation by Isaac Asimov -- All-American Sam Marten has a super-natural encounter with his Jewish ancestor. Probably my favorite story in the collection.
Look, You Think You've Got Troubles by Carol Carr -- A traditionalist's daughter tells him she is going to marry a Martian.
Goslin Day by Avram Davidson -- Goslins, Jewish poltergeists, wreak havoc on a small town.
The Dybbuk of Mazel Tov IV* by Robert Silverberg -- A small town on New Israel, also called Mazel Tov IV, is disrupted when Seul, a member of the native alien race, claims he is really Joseph Avneri, who died a year before.
Trouble with Water by Horace L. Gold -- A man cannot touch or be touched by water after insulting a water gnome.
Gather Blue Roses by Pamela Sargent -- A little girl, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, feels the physical pain of everyone around her.
The Jewbird by Bernard Malamud -- A talking bird, fleeing "Anti-Semeets," flies into the Cohen's apartment window and takes up residence with them.
Paradise Last* by Geo. Alec Effinger -- In a future where the world is becoming "joyfully homogeneous," a young man is given his own planet, complete with a farm and wife, all to himself.
Street of Dreams, Feet of Clay by Robert Sheckley -- A young man goes to live in the deserted Bellwether, "the city that cares," not to mention talks to, cooks for and mothers its inhabitants.
Jachid and Jechidah by Isaac Bashevis Singer -- In this wonderfully surreal short story, Earth is the afterlife for souls who are put to death for sinning.
I'm Looking for Kadak* by Harlan Ellison -- A Zsouchmoid (although her prefers to think of himself as just a Jew) wanders around his planet trying to find Kadak, a former Jew, in order to sit shivah. Comes with a handy Yiddish dictionary.
*These stories were written expressly for this book.