Reviews

Out-of-Body Experiences: Recent Israeli Science Fiction and Fantasy


Ha-kavua ha-yechidi (The Unswitchable)

by Yoav Blum

Keter, 376 pp., 98 NIS

Ha-orchim (The Guests)

by Ofir Touché Gafla

Keter, 368 pp., 96 NIS

Lachatsot nahar pa’amayim (Crossing a River Twice)

by Yoav Avni

Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir, 368 pp., 94 NIS

Shadrach 

by Shimon Adaf

Resling, 160 pp., 64 NIS

Teet (Mud)

by Dror Burstein

Keter, 336 pp., 98 NIS

Ha-masa el lev ha-tehom (Into the Abyss)

by Hagar Yanai

Modan and Okeanos, 286 pp., 74 NIS

In 2017, the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy awarded its Geffen Award for best novel to Yoav Blum’s Ha-kavua ha-yechidi (The Unswitchable). The novel, Blum’s third (his first will soon appear in English translation as The Coincidence Makers), imagines the invention and proliferation of bracelets that allow the wearer to “switch”: to swap consciousnesses with other bracelet wearers by dialing them up as if on a phone. The technology finds all sorts of applications, from the practical to the illicit. Telecommuting for work often becomes a jump into someone else’s body, while some couples periodically have sex from the other partner’s perspective. There are even fellowships of people who agree to set their bracelets on a randomized mode for months at a time, during which their minds bounce around from body to body without knowing who, what, or where they will be from day to day.

The novel, then, reflects uncertainty about identity in our new virtual world. The protagonist is a private eye named Dan Arbel, who is the sole “unswitchable,” the only person for whom the bracelets don’t work. In a world in which you’re never sure who you’re really speaking to, he is, for better and for worse, always himself. As he reflects: 

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About the Author

Michael Weingrad is professor of Jewish studies at Portland State University, and he writes at investigationsandfantasies.com.

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