The Big Idea: Michael A. Burstein

For writer and editor Michael A. Burstein, an encounter with an anthology in his youth changed with way he looked at science fiction and its possibilities. Now, with his own anthology Jewish Futures, Burstein looks to that personal past to inform this collection of stories about what comes next.


For me, it all started with a book called Wandering Stars, edited by Jack Dann.

When Jack published that book in 1974 it was, as far as I know, the first collection ever of Jewish science fiction and fantasy stories. I was a kid, but I was already a big reader of science fiction and fantasy. I was also (and still am) Jewish, but at the time the book came out, I still wasn’t aware that my religion and cultural background made me a minority in the world.

There had been Jewish-themed science fiction stories before, of course, but until Wandering Stars came out, it wasn’t necessarily seen as a “thing.” Today, it’s acknowledged as more of a thing, as evidenced by Valerie Estelle Frankel’s webpage and series on Jewish science fiction and Steven H Silver’s list of Jewish science fiction and fantasy. But back in 1974, it was still seen as a new idea and not yet something that had tradition behind it.

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