Entry updated 3 April 2023. Tagged: Author.
(1976- ) Israeli-born author, in the UK from 2013, most of whose work can perhaps be most easily described in terms of Equipoisal Fantastika and Postmodernism, as his frequent use of Genre SF topoi is deliberately estranged. As a teenager he moved with his family to South Africa where he began to read and write in English, later adopting it as his major creative language, though he made his literary debut as a poet with a volume of verse in Hebrew She'eriot Me'elohim ["Remnants of God"] (coll 1998).
Beginning with his first professional short fiction sale, "Alienation and Love in the Hebrew Alphabet" in ChiZine (see Online Magazines) for April 2005, his narratives frequently juxtapose various literary traditions and in the postmodern manner hybridize genres, conventions, tropes and characters to arrive at early twenty-first-century Fantastika of both an entertaining and transgressive nature. Tidhar's literary strategy repeatedly relies on the recycling of stereotypes and Clichés drawn from classical Pulp sf and detective fiction, traditional Mythologies and contemporary popular culture. This for example can be observed in his collection of linked short stories HebrewPunk (coll 2007), which translates Hebrew mythology into the idiom of Western popular genre fiction; while his Bookman sequence, comprising The Bookman (2010), Camera Obscura (2011) and The Great Game (2012), heavily exploits Steampunk tropes to provide a vivid and at times overwhelming mosaic of literary characters and references within an Alternate-History version of Victorian London controlled by Aliens.
Perhaps the most comprehensive demonstration of this strategy, and the work of a considerably more ambitious scope, is his World Fantasy Award winning novel Osama (2011), whose underlying aspiration seems to be the definition of the early twenty-first century human condition in terms of the consumption of fabricated, oversimplified narratives as the only possible form of apprehending the complexities of the contemporary world. The text can be analysed as a structurally noirish Alternate History utilizing most stereotypes of pulp detective fiction and certain components of Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle (1962), such as Timeslip, and the manifestation of an alternate reality through pages of novels and through their mysterious author. A Jonbar Point seems to exist – it is probably the British failure to partition Iraq in 1920 – though it is adhered to very loosely: the early 2000s in which the tale is set is presented, without argument, in terms of 1940s or 1950s Technology; there are no personal computers or other modern electronic devices, contemporary-style terrorism never developed, and the 9/11 attacks did not take place. But a series of pulp novels entitled Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante by the remarkably evasive Mike Longshott describes – with the documentary accuracy of reportage – a world of terror and violence in which buildings are blown up and people die. Joe, a private detective, is hired to find this enigmatic figure. He discovers that the brutal reality of Longshott's novels peculiarly permeates the world around him, infiltrating a horrific narrative involving global terrorism, climaxing in September 2001. Surprisingly, the novel's finale may also allow an alternative psychological Psychology interpretation eliminating the necessity of any fantastic elements and estrangement since Joe and Longshott can be decoded as two sides of the same coin: but this alternative can be read Equipoisally without any vitiation of the main narrative.
Written around the same time as Osama, Martian Sands (2013) also evokes many characteristic genre conventions, including Colonization of Other Worlds, Future History, Planetary Romance and Time Travel; it also contains numerous references both to Philip K Dick's and to Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars, discussing Holocaust and raising questions of postcolonial nature by presenting other worlds colonized not by greedy corporation or capitalists, but by the poor and dispossessed of Earth. The Violent Century (2013) intensifies the scrutiny of our war-torn twentieth century that characterized Osama, again through a contrast (in this case inferred) between our world and the Alternate History version of the century where the action is set. In the case the Jonbar Point is specific and consequential: the Invention and application in 1932 by Professor Vomacht of a machine capable of generating a "probability wave" which changes the entire world at a quantum level. Individuals peculiarly prone to this subnuclear transformation become Superheroes whose powers exploit (and deflect) their childhood traumas. Tragically, however, the history of this transformed world is in most details identical to that of the real world; the tale is mostly set in World War Two, with long sequences concerning the Shoah (see Holocaust Fiction). In this history, a plethora of superheroes, on both sides of every conflict, cancels each other out; the alternate world of The Violent Century, conspicuously greyer than the real world, offers no genuine escape. Much of the power of the tale lies in that refusal.
Even grimmer in its final implications, though at time comic in tone, A Man Lies Dreaming (2014) combines two narratives: Shomer, a Jewish writer of pulp fiction, awaits death in Auschwitz in 1944, conversing at one point with Primo Levi, and dreaming a subversive tale; in the Alternate History of his dream, Adolf Hitler has become a noir private eye after the triumph of the Communist party in 1932 Germany, and is forced to escape an increasingly fascist London disguised as a Jew. Some pendants to the first Hitler tale have been released: A Man Named Wolf (graph 2014), illustrated by Neil Struthers, provides a set of images from Hitler's life as Wolf (a name he used in the 1920s), and Lust of the Swastika (2015 chap) embroils the real Hitler in a sadomasochistic episode, and the protagonist of the tale in a savage matriarchal Steampunk world in South America, ruled by Amazons who fuel their great Machines through the energies generated by orgasms brought on by unwilling male slaves. More substantially, The Lunacy Commission (coll of linked stories 2021) comprises a series of tales depicting Hitler's early years as a detective.
The tales assembled into fixup form in the first volume of the Central Station sequence, Central Station (fixup 2016), and narrated as though from a distant future diaspora among the stars by a man who has returned from Mars, generate a sustained portrait of Near Future Tel Aviv, with Cyborgs abundant; Central Station itself is a space port. This book won the John W Campbell Memorial Award. The City featured eponymously in Neom (2022) is a newbuild on the Red Sea, not dissimilar to the Saudi Arabian city of that name under construction in the third decade of the twenty-first century; again, a varied array of characters unpack illuminating lives in what by this point has become a worn environment. Homages to traditional Genre SF figures, including Isaac Asimov, Philip K Dick and Clifford D Simak, are seeded throughout.
Unholy Land (2018; exp 2018), whose Jonbar Point is the Zionist Congress's continued advocacy of a Jewish "homeland" near Uganda, is an Alternate History in which the history of Palestina reflects the history of Israel in our world; various time-lines increasingly interact, conveying an insect-eye perspective on intersecting worlds, but without providing any excessive hope for any reality. Candy (2018) is a comic tale for the young end of the Young Adult market; The Big Blind (2020), in which a young nun wins a high-stakes poker match in order to support the Church, is improbable but nonfantastic. The Anti-Matter of Britain Quartet begins with By Force Alone (2020), an ostensibly rollicking Satire of Arthur and the Matter of Britain, but darkened by a sense of requiem, and premonitions of dread; Tidhar's take on Robin Hood, in The Hood (2021), is if anything more savage [for Arthur, Matter or Britain and Robin Hood see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below].
The Escapement (2021), whose central figure is a solitary shootist known as The Stranger questing through Parallel Worlds to find a cure for his son's fatal disease, is an exercise in the juxtaposition of modes, including the Italian Western and Steampunk (see Fantastika; Westworld [2016-current]); in each of the worlds he visits (though not in the terrifying hospital where his son lies dying) he can be defined as a Mysterious Stranger. Maror (2022) is a nonfantastic tale set in the early days of the state of Israel; sequels are projected.
In 2000, early in his career, Tidhar founded an effective continuation of World SF (which see for details) in the online The World SF Blog [see under links below], which won the British Science Fiction Association Award for best nonfiction in 2012. Before ceasing his personal involvement in 2013 he edited solo three connected Anthologies: The Apex Book of World SF (anth 2009), The Apex Book of World SF 2 (anth 2012) and The Apex Book of World SF 3 (anth 2014); further volumes with other editors followed, crediting Tidhar as series editor [see Checklist]. Thematically associated but in no other way connected, the Best of World SF sequence beginning with The Best of World SF (anth 2021) is an ambitious and useful large-scale conspectus.
Though he is a dazzling omnivore of genres, Tidhar must be read at the same time as entirely serious: as an author who uses the tools of fantastika to ascertain where we live now. [KW/JC]
born Afula, Israel: 16 November 1976
- The Bookman (Nottingham, Nottinghamshire: Angry Robot, 2010) [Bookman: pb/David Frankland]
- The Bookman (New York: Angry Robot, 2016) [exp of the above as coll: Bookman: pb/Sarah Anne Langton]
- Camera Obscura (Nottingham, Nottinghamshire: Angry Robot, 2011) [Bookman: pb/David Frankland]
- The Great Game (Nottingham, Nottinghamshire: Angry Robot, 2012) [Bookman: pb/David Frankland]
- The Bookman Histories (Nottingham, Nottinghamshire: Angry Robot, 2012) [omni of the above three: Bookman: pb/John Coulthart]
- Gorel and the Pot-Bellied God (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2011) [chap: Gorel: hb/Pedro Marques]
- Black Gods Kiss (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2014) [coll of linked stories: Gorel: hb/Pedro Marques]
- A Man Lies Dreaming (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2014) [Hitler: hb/uncredited]
- A Man Named Wolf (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2014) [story: graph: in conjunction with release of A Man Lies Dreaming above: Hitler: illus/pb/Neil Struthers]
- A Man Lies Dreaming (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2015) [omni of the two above plus other material: Hitler: hb/Pedro Marques]
- Lust of the Swastika (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2015) [chap: Hitler: hb/Pedro Marques]
- The Lunacy Commission (no place given: JABberwocky Literary Agency, 2021) [coll of linked stories: introduction by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Hitler: wraps/Sarah Anne Langton]
- Central Station (San Francisco, California: Tachyon Publications, 2016) [fixup: Central Station: pb/Elizabeth Story/Sarah Anne Langton (uncredited)]
- Central Station (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2016) [fixup: exp of the above with one story added: Central Station: illus/hb/Pedro Marques]
- Neom (San Francisco, California: Tachyon Publications, 2022) [Central Station: pb/Elizabeth Story]
- Judge Dee and the Limits of the Law (New York: Tor.com, 2020) [story: ebook: Judge Dee: na/]
- Judge Dee and the Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels (New York: Tor.com, 2021) [story: ebook: Judge Dee: na/]
The Anti-Matter of Britain Quartet
- By Force Alone (London: Head of Zeus, 2020) [Anti-Matter of Britain Quartet: hb/David Wardle]
- The Hood (London: Head of Zeus, 2021) [Anti-Matter of Britain Quartet: hb/Howard David Johnson]
- The Tel Aviv Dossier (Toronto, Ontario: ChiZine Publications, 2009) with Nir Yaniv [pb/Erik Mohr]
- Retzach Bidyoni ["A Fictional Murder"] (Tel Aviv, Israel: Odissea, 2009) with Nir Yaniv [pb/]
- Osama (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2011) [hb/Pedro Marques]
- Martian Sands (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2013) [hb/Pedro Marques]
- The Violent Century (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2013) [hb/Marko Manev]
- The Violent Century (New York: St Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books, 2015) [exp of the above: hb/Ervin Serrano]
- Candy (London: Scholastic, 2018) [illus/pb/Mark Beech]
- Unholy Land (San Francisco, California: Tachyon Publications, 2018) [pb/Sarah Anne Langton]
- Unholy Land (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2018) [exp of the above: with added material: illus/hb/Pedro Marques]
- The Escapement (San Francisco, California: Tachyon Publications, 2021) [pb/Elizabeth Story]
- Maror (London: Head of Zeus, 2022) [hb/Ben Prior]
collections and stories
- An Occupation of Angels (Maesteg, Wales: Pendragon Press, 2006) [chap: pb/Ben Baldwin]
- HebrewPunk (Lexington, Kentucky: Apex Publications, 2009) [coll: pb/Melissa Gay]
- Cloud Permutations (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2010) [hb/Pedro Marques]
- My Travels With Al-Qaeda (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2010) [story: ebook: first appeared in Salon Fantastique: Fifteen Original Tales of Fantasy (anth 2006) edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling: na/]
- A Dick and Jane Primer for Adults (Birmingham, England: British Fantasy Society, 2008) [anth: chap: pb/John Keates]
- Jesus and the Eightfold Path (Brighton, East Sussex: Immersion Press, 2011) [chap: hb/]
- Dragonkin (New York: Tor.com, 2013) [story: ebook: first appeared 17 July 2013 Tor.com: na/Greg Ruth]
- Selfies (New York: Tor.com, 2014) [story: ebook: first appeared 17 September 2014 Tor.com: na/Greg Ruth]
- The Old Dispensation (New York: Tor.com, 2017) [story: ebook: first appeared 8 February 2017 Tor.com: na/Greg Ruth]
- Yiwu (New York: Tor.com, 2018) [story: ebook: first appeared 18 May 2018 Tor.com: na/]
- The Vanishing Kind (no place given: JABberwocky Literary Agency, 2018) [novella: ebook: first appeared July 2016 F&SF: na/Monolithic Studios]
- In Xanadu (New York: Tor.com, 2019) [story: ebook: na/]
- New Atlantis (no place given: JABberwocky Literary Agency, 2020) [novella: ebook: first appeared May 2019 F&SF: na/Catska Ench and Cory Ench]
- The Big Blind (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2020) [novella: hb/Pedro Marques]
poetry and plays
- She'eriot Me'elohim ["Remnants of God"] (Tel Aviv, Israel: Tag Publishing, 1998) [poetry: coll: pb/]
- There Will Be Time: A One Act Play (Swindon, Wiltshire: D-Press, 2004) [play: chap: illus/wraps/John Keates]
- Going to the Moon (Fosdyke, Lincolnshire: The House of Murky Depths, 2012) with Paul McCaffrey [chap: graph: illus/pb/Paul McCaffrey]
- Adolf Hitler's "I Dream of Ants!" (Fosdyke, Lincolnshire: The House of Murky Depths, 2012) with Neil Struthers [chap: graph: first serialized 2011 Murky Depths: illus/pb/Neil Struthers]
- Adler (New York: Titan Books, 2021) with Paul McCaffrey [graph: League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen: illus/pb/Paul McCaffrey]
- Michael Marshall Smith: The Annotated Bibliography (Harrogate, West Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2004) [nonfiction: chap: Michael Marshall Smith: hb/Nicholas Royle]
- Art and War: Poetry, Pulp and Politics in Israeli Fiction (London: Watkins Media/Repeater Books, 2016) with Shim'on Adaf [nonfiction: with one story added by each author comprising an anth: pb/Johnny Bull]
works as editor
- The Apex Book of World SF (Lexington, Kentucky: Apex Publications, 2009) [anth: Apex: pb/Randall McDonald]
- The Apex Book of World SF 2 (Lexington, Kentucky: Apex Publications, 2012) [anth: Apex: pb/Raúl Cruz]
- The Apex Book of World SF 3 (Lexington, Kentucky: Apex Publications, 2014) [anth: Apex: pb/Sophia Tusk]
- The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 4 (Lexington, Kentucky: Apex Publications, 2015) [anth: as series editor: this volume edited by Usman T Malik: Apex: pb/Sarah Anne Langton]
- The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 5 (Lexington, Kentucky: Apex Publications, 2018) [anth: as series editor: this volume edited by Cristina Jurado: Apex: pb/Sarah Anne Langton]
- Jews Versus Aliens (London: Jurassic, 2015) with Rebecca Levene [anth: ebook: Jews Versus: na/Sarah Anne Langton]
- Jews Versus Zombies (London: Jurassic, 2015) with Rebecca Levene [anth: ebook: Jews Versus: na/Sarah Anne Langton]
- Jews Versus Omnibus (Scotts Valley, California: CreateSpace, 2015) with Rebecca Levene [anth: omni of the above two: Jews Versus: pb/Sarah Anne Langton]
The Best of World SF
- The Best of World SF: Volume 1 (London: Head of Zeus/Ad Astra, 2021) [anth: Best of World SF: hb/Ben Prior]
- The Best of World SF: Volume 2 (London: Head of Zeus/Ad Astra, 2022) [anth: Best of World SF: hb/Ben Prior]
- Lavie Tidhar
- Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- The World SF Blog
- The Encyclopedia of Fantasy: Arthur; Matter; Robin Hood.
- Picture Gallery
previous versions of this entry