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Lottem, Emanuel

Entry updated 11 March 2024. Tagged: Author, Editor.

(1944-2024) Israeli translator and editor, active since the 1970s, in which capacities he was instrumental in introducing genre sf to an Israeli audience. He was formerly a lecturer in economics and in the diplomatic service.

He began translating for the publishing house Keter as a way of supplementing his income. When Keter decided to launch a new science fiction imprint, Lottem became its first editor. The White Series, as it became known – due to its distinctive white covers – introduced generations of Israeli readers to the best of American Genre SF. Lottem's first translation was his notable edition of Frank Herbert's Dune (fixup 1965), widely considered by its readers to be better than the original. Notoriously, he then decided to skip the next four books for being, in his words, "too boring". He continued the Dune sequence only with Heretics of Dune; the skipped volumes were translated a decade later by other hands.

A dedicated fan of J R R Tolkien, Lottem was also known for his somewhat-controversial version of The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955 3vols), which used creative neologisms that upset some readers . He translated works by Alfred Bester, Ursula K Le Guin, Larry Niven and numerous others, as well as many popular science books. These included Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene (1976) and Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time (1988).

Lottem was part of the group producing the influential magazine Fantasia 2000 (1978-1984), in which his only short story was published. He translated many of the magazine's stories himself, and became Fantasia 2000's chief editor for a time. In 1996, he was a major force behind the establishment of the Israeli Society of Science Fiction & Fantasy and became its first chair, also writing its bylaws and official purposes (see Israel). This, with the rise of Internet fandom, ushered in a new, mini Golden Age of Israeli sf. Lottem helped set up a first convention, Sector 972, which became the annual, and ever larger, ICon, still running today.

As mentor, he helped young authors such as Lavie Tidhar, Vered Tochterman and Nir Yaniv. Tidhar and Yaniv paid homage to Lottem in their tongue-in-cheek murder mystery, Retzach Bidyoni ["A Fictional Murder"] (2009), in which, as "Reu'el Rotem", he is unmasked as the man behind a killing spree targeting the new generation of Israeli sf writers. Lottem was, by all accounts, delighted by this portrayal.

With Sheldon Teitelbaum, one of Lottem's last projects was editing the English-language anthology Zion's Fiction: A Treasury of Israeli Speculative Literature (anth 2018) and its successor More Zion's Fiction: Wondrous Tales from the Israeli ImagiNation (anth 2021).

In all, he translated some 400 books, but his influence was felt far beyond them. [LTi]

Emanuel Lottem

born Tel Aviv: 1944

died Tel Aviv: 7 January 2024

works as editor


Zion's Fiction


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