Blogging the Omer, Days 43 and 44 (barely!) – Thoughts of other worlds

Today is, for the next couple hours, day 44 of the Omer — that’s six weeks and two days, tifereth of yesod. That’s balance and beauty within foundation and generation.
Foundation makes me think of Isaac Asimov, z’l, so to celebrate today’s Omer I’m sharing a thing of beauty: One of my favorite contemporary science-fiction/fantasy stories, Biographical Notes to
“A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-planes” by Benjamin Rosenbaum
I stumbled across the story, by Benjamin Rosenbaum, in the anthology Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology; it originally appeared in All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories.
The story tells of a slightly different world, where Rosenbaum is a writer of “Plausible Fables,” where zeppelins rule the skies, technology is magical and the Jews — well, the Jews and their history are also slightly different:

The Raja was shuffling through a Wisdom Deck, pausing to look at the incandescent faces of the cards, then up at me. “You are the plausible-fabulist, Benjamin Rosenbaum,” he said at length.
I bowed stiffly. “A pen name, of course,” I said.
“Taken from The Scarlet Pimpernel?” he asked, cocking one eyebrow curiously.
“My lord is very quick,” I said mildly.
The Raja laughed, indicating the Wisdom Deck with a wave. “He isn’t the most heroic or sympathetic character in that book, however.”
“Indeed not, my lord,” I said with polite restraint. “The name is chosen ironically. As a sort of challenge to myself, if you will. Bearing the name of a notorious anti-Hebraic caricature, I must needs be all the prouder and more subtle in my own literary endeavors.”
“You are a Karaite, then?” he asked.
“I am an Israelite, at any rate,” I said. “If not an orthodox follower of my people’s traditional religion of despair.”
The prince’s eyes glittered with interest, so — despite my reservations — I explained my researches into the Rabbinical Heresy which had briefly flourished in Palestine and Babylon at the time of Ashoka, and its lost Talmud.

Read it all

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