Israeli writer Nir Yaniv has created a charming stop-motion video to accompany the release of his new English-language short story collection, The Love Machine & Other Contraptions.
Israeli author Nir Yaniv’s debut English-language collection has been released by Keith Brooke’s Infinity Plus imprint.
Yaniv is a film-maker, musician and author based in Tel Aviv. With World Fantasy Award winner Lavie Tidhar he co-wrote 2009 novel, The Tel Aviv Dossier. It has been described by SFCrowsnest as “the most enjoyably bizarre novel I’ve read,” and was called a “neo-Gnostic apocalypse narrative for the iPod generation” by The Jewish Quarterly.
Yaniv’s stories have appeared widely in Israel, where he is considered one of the most prominent of the new wave of genre writers. His writing is often humorous, and tackles a wide variety of subjects and literary approaches. In English, his stories have previously appeared in Weird Tales, Apex Magazine, Chizine and elsewhere, and they have been translated into German, Portuguese and Polish.
The Love Machine collects Yaniv’s previously published stories as well as many new stories never published in English. Some have been translated by Lavie Tidhar, who also provides an introduction, and well as by the author himself.
Yaniv’s work has been called “hypnotic, surreal and prophetic” by World Fantasy Award winning editor Ann VanderMeer, and as “fantastic, wonderful [and] weird” by Strange Horizons.
Apex Magazine have just published Israeli author Nir Yaniv‘s story, Undercity. The story was published in the exclusive pre-order edition of The Apex Book of World SF 2 but will not be available in the regular edition. You can, however, read it for free online!
That day, the complacent city received three warnings. No one bothered to take notice. The city listened only to itself.
At the seashore, just before sunrise, a teenage girl met an old man. A westerly wind played with the water and with a grey beard and with some golden curls. On the promenade, a street sweeper passed, unnoticed.
“Child,” the old man said, his hand reaching for his worn cap, which was slightly smaller than the measure of his head. Surprisingly, this did not make him look ridiculous, only slightly older. The girl looked at him, dazzled, as if she’d opened her eyes for the first time in her life, and did not answer.
“Child,” the old man said in the pleasant tone of someone not used to any kind of pleasantry, either given or received, “is not this too early an hour?”
The girl said, “Soon it’ll be too late.” She did not look bitter when saying this. There wasn’t a hint of drama in her words. It was merely a statement of fact.
“I would have liked to argue the falsehood of your words,” the old man said. “To delve into the expression ‘too late’ and prove that no matter what the circumstances, it cannot be true. To say that always, always there is something that can be done, always there is hope. But if I do so, I shall be lying.”
The girl stared at him.
“I shall be lying,” the old man repeated, looking eager to add some drama to the conversation. “It is always too late. This way or another, no matter what you do, no matter what we do, it is always too late.”
“Yes,” the girl said. “No.”
She closed her eyes and turned away from him. “No matter what you do, no matter what we do, it’s always too late,” she said, “but there is one thing that’s going to happen just in time. Right now.”
The sun rose. Slowly, majestically, it floated above the eastern city line, illuminating the old man and the so-called child.
The girl smiled. – continue reading!
In order to promote the forthcoming release of The Apex Book of World SF 2, we’ve decided to offer a very special edition to anyone pre-ordering the paperback edition. While the trade edition is scheduled for August, anyone ordering a copy by April 30th will receive their copy in May (three months early!) and with unique bonus content.
Pre-order the anthology and it will include, as a special bonus, Nir Yaniv‘s never-before-published-in-English novelette “Undercity” (8800 words) as well as Charles Tan‘s essay, “World SF: Our Possible Future”!
Edited by Lavie Tidhar, The Apex Book of World SF 2 collects works from award-winning SF writers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East. Featured authors include Will Elliot, Hannu Rajaniemi, Shweta Narayan, Lauren Beukes, Ekaterina Sedia, Nnedi Okorafor, and Andrzej Sapkowski. Several of the stories are published for the first time in English.
Preorders of the special edition can be placed at http://www.apexbookcompany.com/collections/books/products/the-apex-book-of-world-sf-2-edited-by-lavie-tidhar
We are aiming for 100 pre-orders – please consider supporting Apex and the World SF Blog by pre-ordering!
Our fiction feature this week is Israeli author Nir Yaniv‘s “The Word of God”!
The Word of God
By Nir Yaniv
Translated from the Hebrew by Lavie Tidhar
The beginning of the end was very simple, but no one suspected it.
Ofer searched through his pockets like a man possessed. ‘A pen!’ he said. ‘My kingdom for a pen!’ and immediately found one, in the pocket of his shirt, and when he returned home discovered that the door refused to open. He couldn’t understand why.
‘This time it will work,’ she said to herself, while waiting at the café for a guy she had never seen. ‘This time it will work out. He will be beautiful, rich, intelligent, nice, considerate, and he will fall madly in love with me. I know it.’
And so it was.
‘I wish I had a shekel for every time you said you’ll be here on time,’ said Uri Schwartz to Rafi, his business-partner. Pop! said something, and a heap of coins materialised around him until it swallowed him whole.
‘I don’t believe it,’ said Rafi. ‘Shit!’
His fate was much worse.
‘Moshe, you stupid lump of meat!’ Shouted fat Nati at his rebellious nephew and Pop! – and in the end, the rest of the family enjoyed a particularly delicate barbeque on the nearest traffic-island.
‘Look Dad,’ said Yoni, ‘Meow! I’m a cat! Pop! Meow! Meow! Meo…’
‘Thank you very much!’ said Rivka Meirovich to her neighbour. ‘What a wonderful cake! You’re simply pure gold!’
The profit was entirely hers.
‘Yes, you’re wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, yes, yes…’
‘Oh, Rami, yes, more, more, you’re big, you’re huge, you’re great, you’re great…’
It was a mess.
‘Listen to me, and listen good,’ said the sergeant, ‘you’re all a bunch of fucking dicks!’
‘Oh my God!’ said the sergeant.
I am the Lord your God, said the voice of pop gravely, and something appeared – the last thing that the sergeant saw in his life, for no man can see god. Do not take my name in vain!
* * *
The middle of the end was rather complicated, but man was generally occupied with his own affairs.
‘I wish His Honour happiness and wealth, but such as can not be interpreted literally or constitute a form of harm to His Honour or any of his family, friends or acquaintances.’
‘Thank you,’ said the judge to the council of defence, ‘is the defendant ready to have his say before this court?’
‘Your Honour,’ said the defendant and stood up, ‘if you don’t release me right now, I swear I’m going to stand here and say you’re a…’
The court’s security guard shot to his feet. ‘The accused is a stinking dog!’ he roared. And so it was.
‘Thank you,’ said the judge. ‘The council of defence is asked to properly muzzle its clients in the future.’
‘I’m a millionaire!’ Pop.
‘I want all the stinking Ashkenazim to die!’ roared Ya’akov.
Nothing happened. The neighbour from upstairs – an Ashkenazi – continued to play the piano, as if the word of God or man meant nothing to him, and the hour wasn’t between two and four in the afternoon.
‘That stinking Ashkenazi,’ muttered Ya’akov, and suddenly his nostrils were assailed by a terrible, horrible smell. He understood immediately. He stood, smiled the best of his smiles and said, quietly and confidently, ‘I want all the stinking Ashkenazim to die!’
The piano fell silent at once, but Ya’akov will no longer enjoy the silence between two and four. He forgot he had a Polish grandmother.
‘Men are such animals, I tell you…’
‘Look what you did. You’re an idiot!’
‘Look! You turned them into animals! What are you, crazy?’
‘Animals. Funny animals!’
‘Animals! Woof woof!’
‘Ah. Fine, you’re not an idiot. You’re all right. And, ah… you owe me a thousand shekels.’
‘I’m a millionaire!’ Pop.
‘…and men are not animals. They’re beautiful, considerate human beings. And I’m the most beautiful woman in the world.’
‘What… what happened? Where am I?’
‘Don’t worry. You’re beautiful and calm and you trust me implicitly. Now, about those thousand shekels…’
‘I’m a millionaire!’ Pop.
‘…here are the news and the headlines first: this is the third day since the death of all the Arabs, and the government has still not found a suitable solution to the removal of the bodies due to opposition from the religious parties. A discussion on the subject is currently taking place in the Knesset Committee for Security and External Affairs.
‘The extreme Right’s demonstration is about to conclude its twenty-third day, and today, for the first time, a speech was delivered by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who returned from the dead due, it seems, to the name of the movement he had left behind him. A spokesman for Kahane Alive, however, was not available for comment.
‘The Knesset’s Finance Committee announces hereby that no one is a millionaire besides those who were millionaires before the start of current events, and that no one will from now on be able to say to himself he is a millionaire.’
‘I’m very rich!’ Pop.
‘I’m the most beautiful woman in the world! And I’m sixteen!’ Pop.
‘Likkud for Government!’ – ‘Labour for Government!’ – ‘Shas for Government’ – ‘Shinui for Government’ – ‘Mafdal for Government’…
‘…the giant eye that appeared in the air above Jordan and looked towards Jerusalem disappeared after the security forces became involved, and citizens will from now on refrain from singing the national anthem, in particular the reference to the ‘Eye on Zion’. The weather will be calm and pleasant, with average temperatures and low humidity, and we will repeat that here tirelessly for many hours, so there is no point trying to change it.’
‘Jews for Government!’ – ‘Arabs for Government!’ – ‘Ashkenazim for Government!’ – Mizrachim for Government!’…
‘There is world peace! Forever! And no one can think of anything to change it!’
‘Kibbutzim for Government!’ – ‘Workers for Government!’ – ‘Taxi drivers for Government!’ – ‘The Pensioners’ Union for Government!’ – ‘The lawyers, without conditions and limitations, and for an unlimited period of time…’
‘I pray to you, the Lord our God, to return things to the way they were and put faith into the nation and bring peace on Israel. Amen.’ But in vain.
‘Me for Government. I rule the world, and no one can ever contradict it now or ever or until I say so, not even God!’
‘I am the Lord your God,’ and something appeared, and darkness.
* * *
At the end it was simplicity that won, but no one will ever know it.
The boy played in the sandbox when the word of man became the word of God. One of the big kids approached him threateningly.
‘Go away,’ said the boy, and pop, his larger antagonist went.
The kindergarten teacher came and watched him. ‘Honey,’ she said, ‘you like playing in the sand?’
‘I love you,’ he said. Pop.
‘You’re cute,’ she said. Pop. ‘You’re the most wonderful and beautiful and most smartest kid in the world!’ Pop.
‘You love me,’ he said. Pop.
She looked at him admiringly. ‘My cuteness, my gorgeous one, you’re almost an adult already.’ Pop.
The kindergarten teacher and the teenager lay in the sandbox.
‘God, that was good,’ he said.
I am the God your Lord, said the voice of pop gravely, and something appeared – the last thing the boy ever saw in his life. Do not use my name in vain!
But the boy only smiled, and his blind eyes stared into the empty air, and for the first and last time man turned to God and said, ‘I am the God your Lord.’
And so it was.
The Word of God (c) Nir Yaniv 2007, first published in Trabuco Road. English translation (c) Lavie Tidhar 2007.
It’s movie week here on the World SF Blog – we’ll be running trailers and whole genre short films from around the world this week. Tuesday we’ll have the next installment in Joyce Chng’s serial, The Basics of Flight. But let’s start the week!
First up we have something of a unique proposition: the Israeli short horror film Achul (Eaten), directed by Elad Rath and starring no other than Apex Book of World SF contributor, science fiction writer (and rather scary monster in his spare time!) Nir Yaniv. Enjoy!
Film in Hebrew, with English subtitles.
I interviewed Lavie Tidhar and Nir Yaniv on their novel, The Tel Aviv Dossier, over at SF Signal. Here’s an excerpt:
What made you decide to set the story in Tel Aviv? What is it about that city that you find interesting?
LT: We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to entirely destroy it! I think it looked better when we were done with it. We were signing books yesterday near the municipality building, next to that huge, awful “sculpture” that’s been slowly rusting in the square for more years than it had any right to – and we both kind of looked at it and wished, for just a moment, that some supernatural catastrophe would happen just so we can see it gone.
Or maybe that’s just me.
NY: As long as the catastrophe is limited to that particular piece of “art”, I’m with you. However, being a long time resident of Tel Aviv, I prefer my own apartment to stay untouched. But I wasn’t born here – I grew up in the northern part of Israel – so I still know what it is to be an outsider here, which served me quite well when writing the book. Every day, riding my motorbike here and there in the city, I used to imagine all those buildings falling apart and the vehicles around me flying around and the people, the poor people. A piece of advice for beginning writers: never imagine anything while writing a motorbike. Really. Expert stuntmen were used in writing this book.
Dagon is a new Portuguese magazine, edited by Roberto Mendes and dedicated to showcasing both Portuguese and international speculative fiction. The first issue contains stories from Luís Filipe Silva, João Barreiros and Carla Ribeiro, and articles by Pedro Ventura and Nuno Fonseca. It also publishes Nir Yaniv‘s story, “Cinderers” from The Apex Book of World SF, features an interview with anthology editor Lavie Tidhar and an article by Larry Nolen.
The magazine was launched on the 23rd of January – click here for photos from the event.
This week on the WSNB, Charles Tan interviews Roberto Mendes:
It is an honour Charles. It was a book that first drove me into speculative fiction. I was eleven years old when the magic first appeared in my life, in the form of a book; It was The LOTR by Tolkien. I remembered feeling really small, standing at the gates of the gigantic Middle Earth. From that moment on I read almost every thing that came out by Tolkien. I also began to discover other writers, such as Jules Verne, Edgar A. Poe, Lovecraft, and many more. It was love at first sight.
I will have to say that pretty much everything excites me about speculative fiction. But not only in the form of literature: I love every type of art inspired by the marvellous world of fantasy, science fiction, horror, you name it! I love the drawings of many authors, like L. Royo, Karem Beyit, etc. I also love the music inspired in fantasy such as the classical Wagner (inspired by Norse mythology) and the recent metal by Manowar or the melodic metal by Ayreon, in which we can embark on a voyage into space, filled with science fiction references!
Well, I think the term “Speculative Fiction” stands for various genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy and all sub-genres. I believe that all these genres came from the same place: the mythology and the need to think about the past and the future, so I really prefer this term!
It is the only magazine of speculative fiction published in paper, since the magazine “Bang”, edited by Rogério Ribeiro, left the market (now it is published for free in the web). Its objectives are clear: to promote speculative fiction in Portugal, reveling in new worlds of opportunities for writers and readers. It is not only a magazine of literature, we are also going to have an illustrator working on every issue, who will draw a cover inspired by one of the tales and we intend to publish really good illustrations inside every issue. In the first issue, we have cinema reviews, articles (including one from Larry Nolen), tales from Portuguese writers such as João Barreiros, Luís Filipe Silva and Carla Ribeiro, a tale by Nir Yaniv (“Cinderers”), in cooperation with Lavie Tidhar, to whom I thank, and finally we have some poetry and an interview with Lavie. The name of first issue cover illustrator is Miguel Ministro.
I’ve edited the August 2009 issue as an experimental issue in e-book. It is free on the web, that was the first step for the magazine.
Here goes the link for the download. It has really great illustrations and those who cannot read in portuguese can watch them:)
Why the name Dagon?
Dagon is sort of a fetish character for me. It was a major northwest Semitic god, reportedly of grain and agriculture, but it is more known as one of the characters that came out from the imagination of Lovecarft, one of my favorite writers. It is, mostly, a name that almost every reader of speculative fiction knows, so I thought it would be a great choice!
The state of the speculative fiction in Portugal, but it was an old dream of mine to publish a magazine like Dagon. The idea just popped into my head one day and I thought “well, the hell with it, I’m not going to just sit back and wait for the winds to change, I’m going to be an active part of a new age of speculative fiction in Portugal”. With the help of my girlfriend I started to make contacts with the writers, and I had already drawn some objectives: to be a magazine not only for regular writers, those that had their names already on the market. I wanted to publish new voices you know?
I’ve already assembled some tales to another project, an anthology of Portuguese SF, called “Vollüspa”, that will come out in March, and so I was already impressed by the quality of the works that got into my hands. Some people called me crazy, and told me that this project was too weak, that it was never going to last. But more and more people became really supportive, and now I’ve got really a lot of people to thank to.
After the first experimental issue, published for free on the web, a few editors approached me, with interest in the magazine. I’ve decided to accept the offer of the “edita-me” company, and they have been great all this time!
Well, mainly the Portuguese and Brazilian readers. Not only the genre lovers, I have the objective to reach out to a new market, the mainstream readers, showing them the quality of speculative fiction.
I think that Portuguese speculative fiction first needs to be strong within our walls, and only then we can reach to other markets, such as the international one. Maybe after the first four issues we will be ready to publish the magazine in English, and then everyone will have access to the Portuguese SF. But first, we need to be careful and to get better and better.
I thought that that would be more of challenge, but everything’s great so far, every contributor has been supportive, the translations work out really good (Jorge Candeias and Luís Filipe Silva were the translators), and the acceptance of the magazine turned out to be wonderful.
It will surely be a great afternoon!
Why did you choose the Web as your platform?
Mainly because when I edited the experimental issue, I did not have the necessary funds to publish it on paper. But it turned out to be a great choice. Ive learned a lot doing issue zero. The difference in quality between that issue and the first issue now is enormous!
We are like a frozen river: the silence is becoming overwhelming! With Dagon I intend to crack the ice a little bit, making some noise! In Portugal the editorial markey is failing and the readers are despairing every day but we have great writers like João Barreiros, Luís Filipe Silva or David Soares and emerging writers with enormous quality like Carla Ribeiro or Pedro Ventura. But the market is saturated with books of little quality, mostly vampire books taking advantage of the “Twilight” success or fantasy books, almost copies of Tolkien’s work.
There are only a few publishers that go out on a limb to publish Speculative Fiction: mostly Saída de Emergência, Editorial Presença and Gailivro! We had some good fanzines like Nova or Phantastes but now they are over, leaving Bang the only online magazine. The “edita-me” publisher is taking a risk in publishing a collection of Portuguese speculative fiction called Yggdrasil and I hope that will bring the writers and readers together. There are great gaps that we need to fill such as readers’ low knowledge of the genre and the inability of publishers to “teach” published fundamental works of SF.
Who are some of the writers that have influenced you?
Portuguese writers? Well, I’ll have to say João Barreiros and Luís Filipe Silva regarding science fiction. As to fantasy, Pedro Ventura. On horror I have no preferred Portuguese writers (well, there isn’t much of that specie either) but David Soares is a really good writer.
I think that our past could make us unique SF writers. But I do not think SFin Portugal has reached a stage in which we are unique. The only way to make our SF unique is to provide exotic references, exclusively Portuguese, as well as to reinvent our past of adventures through the world, a time of colonizers…writing about it, say, in a steampunk way, would be something unique! But a Portuguese SF writer cannot expect to write a novel set in New York, and then be perfect doing it or just writing a romance of vampires and expect it to be a masterpiece! But we have great voices, if only all of you could hear them… I mostly think we forget a lot about our great past, not realizing that the future of our SF is there, in our history, in our blood, in our hearts!
The old woman in the grocery store stares at the floor and doesn’t look up. She examines the date printed on a chunk of cheese, and her hand shakes. She turns around, drops the cheese into one of the two carts nearby. It’s the wrong cart, and a small child sees the cheese fall, then hit a pack of frozen chicken legs. There’s a terrible tearing noise, and the old woman is split in two. Blood and stomach and intestines spray all over the place, and then there’s a gargling noise, and then silence.
Everyone ignores this, keeping their heads down.
Except for the little boy, who’s waiting patiently with his mother in the line in front of the cash register. He still doesn’t understand the need to lower your head. His mother covers his ears and eyes with her hands, but it’s too late.
From somewhere in the air comes the sound of beating wings. – read the rest of the story.
Responding in part to Jetse de Vries “Should SF Die?” essay, Val’s Random Comments Blog responds, including a long review of The Apex Book of World SF – calling Nir Yaniv’s Cinderers “the collection’s most disturbing story by far” and Kristin Mandigma’s Excerpt from a Letter by a Social-Realist Aswang “absolutely hilarious”.
One argument in the (completely pointless) debate on whether or not science fiction is dying is that the genre is a very anglophone affair. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that statement. Simply because Science Fiction does not get translated into English does not mean it isn’t written and published outside the English speaking nations. There is an extra hurdle though and that is the size of the market. Science Fiction is a niche market and it is becoming more so every year. To sustain a population of professional writers you need quite a few people who read science fiction. English can provide that, many other languages cannot. I don’t know of of any author writing in Dutch who can make a living writing science fiction or even fantasy.
There are several strategies to deal with this problem. A first group simply keeps their day job or supplement their income with other activities in the publishing world. A second group writes mainstream literature or other, more profitable, genres and throws in a work of science fiction once in a while. A third group attempts to write in English, translates their own work or has their work translated to reach a wider audience. Writing speculative fiction in a small language is hard but that certainly doesn’t stop people. There’s is quite a bit out there if you know where to look. The Apex Book of World SF collects a number of stories from around the world. Most of these writers have adopted the third strategy. Some of the sixteen stories were written in English, three were translated by the author and in three cases the translator is named in the copyright information. I have been looking around for quality Dutch genre fiction with limited but encouraging success, it only makes sense to see what is on offer in the rest of the world.