World Fantasy Con 2010 was something of a milestone for me. I finally met somebody who confirmed that Lavie Tidhar is, indeed, a real and breathing person. John Berlyne of the Zeno Literary Agency tells me that Lavie is of human flesh and not some computer entity sliding along the ocean floor or a conglomeration of underpaid authors cranking out hundreds of thousands of words for publication.
You might have heard of Lavie Tidhar. Locus called him an “emerging master.” His short fiction work has appeared in most professional short fiction publications of note: Clarkesworld Magazine, Apex Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, Strange Horizons, Chizine and more. His stories have appeared in heavyweight anthologies such as Salon Fantastique, The Del Ray Book of Science Fiction & Fantasy, Lovecraft Unbound, Phantom, Interfictions II, Shine, and Dark Faith. Most recently Lavie broke into the mainstream with the mass market paperback novel The Bookman (first in a series of three) from Angry Robot Books. He also runs the World SF blog with Charles Tan.
I could continue listing more credits (all amassed in just the last five years), but frankly, it grows tiresome after you realize how prolific Lavie has become.
I had my introduction to “Lavie Tidhar” back in 2005 when he sent a rocking little story about a drug-addicted robotnik (I’m a sucker for robot stories!) in a dystopian future set in Jerusalem for my old print magazine Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest. We frequently emailed one another for years after that initial sale. I published Lavie six or seven times in the digest. He has appeared several times in Apex Magazine. He’s in many of the Apex anthologies.
But somewhere along the line I became suspicious. Nobody can be that prolific. Nobody. Nobody lives in Israel, then the UK, then Vanuatu, then Malaysia, then Vietnam, then Bali, then South Africa, then back to Israel or wherever he says he’s living now. His frequent writing partner, Nir Yaniv, seemed to conspicuously have a similar writing style as Lavie. Were Nir and Lavie the same person?
I posed this question to others. They agreed that when you added it all up, things did look weird. Nobody seemed to have ever seen Lavie Tidhar. The best I got were third person reports (heresay) such as “My second cousin once had a stout beer with him in an Austrian village pub one time in 1993.”
One of my Apex senior editors, Gill Ainsworth, lives in the U.K. She’s attended some of the BFS conventions. “I think I remember Lavie Tidhar. We met at one of the cons,” Gill said in answer to my queries about Lavie. But she went on to say, “But the man proceeded to get me rat-arsed on fancy beers and I can’t rightly recall if it was really him or not.”
Paul Jessup confesses to meeting Lavie Tidhar. “I’ve met Lavie Tidhar, and I can tell you he does exist. He’s a small wooden box that crawls across the ocean floor and beams messages upwards to a remote satellite. His mind is actually a LISP script programmed in the 1980s in order to fool online perverts and miscreants.”
This only served to make me worry further about the veracity of this Tidhar character.
I finally approached Lavie via instant messenger with my concerns. He offered to make an international call and speak to me. “These outrageous rumors have to stop.” He called. We talked. But really, it could have been anybody on the other end of the line.
Soon after, Lavie disappeared to a distant Pacific island paradise for two years where he grew his own food, made his own paper from leaves of palm trees. Yet his short stories continued to appear online every couple of weeks. He finally resurfaced in Southeast Asia and promptly tried to sell me a novel (which I smartly bought).
Then I met John Berlyne.
We introduced ourselves. He mentioned he was a fan of Apex, that we frequently publish his clients, including Lavie Tidhar.
I saw my opening.
“I need to know something, John. For five years, something has been bothering me. I need to know. Is Lavie Tidhar for real?” I asked.
John gave me a sly look. “Sure he is. I’ve met him.”
My world view tilted. My jaw dropped. “You have? What’s he like?”
John frowned. His eyebrows pinched together. “You ask ‘What’s he like?’ and expect a normal answer? How do you describe an unknown object just at the very edge of your vision? Let me ask you something, Jason Sizemore. Have you ever driven down a foggy country road late at night? Your eyes are tired, your back aches, you want to sleep. And as you’re going along something you can’t…understand…dashes across the road and for just a brief moment this…thing crosses the beams of our headlights…and you see it. Yet, you don’t really see it. That is what Lavie Tidhar is like. You understand?”
I nod and say the only thing I can. “Sure I do, John. Sure I do.”
Closure at last.
Jason Sizemore is the owner and operator of Apex Publications. He also writes and edits, earning a Bram Stoker Award nomination for his first book, Aegri Somnia. He’s had over thirty short stories published and has edited four anthologies (the latest being Dark Futures: Tales of SF Dystopia). He maintains a website at www.jason-sizemore.com.