Writer of Short Stories & Novels
“Will You Meet Me There, Out Beyond the Bend?”
Nightmare
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“The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
Bifrost
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“In Memory of a Summer’s Day”
Mad Hatters and March Hares
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“The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
Tor.com
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“Love Engine Optimization”
Lightspeed Magazine 85
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“One Spring in Cherryville”
Available in most ebook formats
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“The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies”
XB-1
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“The Singularity is in Your Hair”
Cyber World
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
科幻世界 (Science Fiction World)
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“The Problem of Meat”
Grendelsong
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
Nebula Awards Showcase 2016
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“Demon in Aisle 6”
Nightmare Magazine 38
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
World Chinese SF Association
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“The Thing in the Refrigerator That Could Stop Time”
Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest
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“Marie and the Mathematicians”
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #26
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“The Writing’s on the Wall”
Farrago's Wainscot #5
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“The Sembla”
A Field Guide to Surreal Botany
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“The Girl in the Basement”
Hatter Bones
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“Saving Diego”
Interzone #221
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“The Spaces Between Things”
Electric Velocipede 17/18
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“The Girl in the Basement”
Apex Magazine, Vol 3, Issue 3
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“The Suffering Gallery”
Beneath Ceaseless Skies - Issue 57
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“The History Within Us”
Clarkesworld Magazine #42
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“The History Within Us”
The People of the Book
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“The Hands That Feed”
Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories
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“The Bricks of Gelecek”
Naked City
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“The Hands That Feed”
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk
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“The Suffering Gallery”
The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Three
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“The Great Game at the End of the World”
After
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Lightspeed Magazine and io9.com
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“The History Within Us”
Clarkesworld Year Four
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“The Last Probe”
Launch Pad
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“Pheth’s Aviary”
Beneath Ceaseless Skies - Issue 133
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
Clarkesworld Magazine #92
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
XB-1 Issue 8/2014
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Космопорт (Kosmoport)
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“The History Within Us”
XB-1 Issue 11/2014
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“Cameron Rhyder’s Legs”
Clarkesworld Magazine #98
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Nebula Awards Showcase 2015
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“The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies”
Clarkesworld Magazine
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King of Shards by Matthew Kressel Audiobook and ARC Raffle (GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED)

Update: the raffle has ended and the winners have been notified. Thanks for participating!

On Friday, December 18th at 10am EST (The raffle has ended) I’ll be raffling off five copies of the King of Shards Audible.com audiobook and two copies of the book’s Advance Reading Copies (ARCs). King of Shards is an epic fantasy novel about a Lamed Vavnik, one of the thirty-six anonymous saints who uphold the world, who must team up with Ashmedai, the king of demon-kind, in order to prevent a cadre of demons from killing the other Lamed Vav and destroying the world. Raffle rules are below.

NPR Books called King of Shards, “Majestic, resonant, reality-twisting madness.” Author N.K. Jemisin calls King of Shards, “A surreal and exotic adventure in a unique mythological setting. Scary, exhilarating fun!”

About the Audible.com audiobook:

Narrator Jonathan Davis has narrated books for Neal Stephenson, Paolo Bacigalupi, William Gibson, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Sawyer, among many others. He has also been narrating audiobooks for the Star Wars franchise for over a decade. Winners of the raffle will be given a code to download your free copy of the audiobook from Audible.com. An Audible.com subscription (free for the first month) is required to download the audiobook.

Narrator Jonathan Davis

Narrator Jonathan Davis

About the Advance Reading Copies (ARCs)

Winners of the raffle will receive one print copy of the ARC inscribed to the winner (or whomever you want). These are limited early editions of the King of Shards unavailable anywhere else.

King of Shards ARC by Matthew Kressel

King of Shards ARC by Matthew Kressel

Raffle Rules

To enter the raffle please follow these rules:

  • Share a link to this post
    • Share this post on your favorite social media platform (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, G+, etc.) The buttons to the side of this post (or on the bottom if you are on a mobile device) can be used to quickly share this post. Sample text: “Author Matthew Kressel is raffling off audiobooks and Advance Reading Copies of KING OF SHARDS.”
  • Paste a link to the share in the comments section
    • In the comments section of this post, paste a link to your social media share as proof that you have done so. Make sure to leave a valid email address (hidden) so I can contact you if you win.
  • Write whether you want the audiobook or ARC or both
    • Write in the same comment whether you would prefer to receive the audiobook or ARC. E.g., “I would prefer to receive the audiobook.” Or , “I am entering for both audiobook and ARC.”
    • Note that ARCs will only be mailed to the U.S. and Canada.

On Friday, December 18th, at 10am EST I will randomly select five winners for the Audible.com audiobook and two winners for the ARC from the commenters. I will contact the winners by email.

So that’s it! Please share this post and good luck to all!

 


36 Days of Judaic Myth: Day 36, The Lamed Vav, The Thirty-Six Hidden Righteous

Today, October 13, is the release day of my debut novel, King of Shards, and for the last thirty six days I have been featuring one new blog entry a day about a different Judaic myth. I hope that along the way these posts have opened your eyes to the rich mythology and beauty in this ancient tradition. It’s been fun and educational for me as well, because in my research I’ve discovered fascinating things I did not previously know. Thank you for sharing this journey of discovery with me! 

Today’s last entry is on The Lamed Vav, The Thirty-Six Hidden Righteous.

Day 36: The Lamed Vav, The Thirty-Six Hidden Righteous

Lamed Vav by Monica Erosa

Lamed Vav by Monica Erosa

In every generation there are thirty-six just men who uphold the world, the Lamed Vav Tzaddikim. Each is blessed to be able to glimpse the Shekhinah, the Divine Presence. And because of their merit, the world continues to exist. If one were to die, another is immediately born to take his place. God permits the world to exist on account of their righteousness. If any one were to cease being righteous, the world would be destroyed. Because in Hebrew the letter ל lamed is thirty and the letter ו vav is six, we call these thirty six hidden saints the Lamed Vav.

Their chief traits are humility, selflessness, and anonymity. They are so anonymous, in fact, that you or I could be a Lamed Vavnik and not know it. The Lamed Vav work ordinary jobs, earning a living by the sweat of their brow as tailors, blacksmiths, shoemakers, and other humble professions. Those who live and work among the Lamed Vav never suspect they walk in the company of a saint. If, by chance, a Lamed Vavnik is exposed, he will fiercely deny it. It is also said that if a Lamed Vavnik discovers his hidden nature as one of them, he will immediately die, and another will be born to take his place.

The Lamed Vav perform small acts of kindness and righteousness that may seem insignificant in the eyes of passers by. But God watches and knows the sum of these small acts serve to uphold the world. Without such acts, the world could not exist. Therefore we call these Lamed Vav the Pillars of Existence. In times of great conflict, the Lamed Vav emerge from their hiding places to use their secret knowledge of kabbalah to avert disaster. After, the Lamed Vav return to their lives of anonymity in a new community.

 

The Myth’s Origins

This myth may originate from Genesis Chapter 18, where Abraham pleads with God not to destroy the righteous along with the wicked in Sodom. “Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou indeed sweep away and not forgive the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?” And then after some more bargaining, Abraham gets God down to ten people. “Oh, let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once. Peradventure ten shall be found there.’ And He said: ‘I will not destroy it for the ten’s sake.” So if ten righteous persons could be found in Sodom, God wouldn’t destroy it.

God destroyed the world once, in the Great Flood, to erase its wickedness. So what prevents him from doing it again? The ancient rabbis posited answers: In Genesis Rabah 35:2, it says, “The world possesses not less than thirty men as righteous as Abraham.” But later, in the Talmud, in Tractate Sanhedrin 97b, comes the following passage, “The world must contain not less than thirty-six righteous men in each generation who are vouchsafed the sight of the Shekhinah’s countenance, for it is written, Blessed are all they that wait [lo] for him; the numerical value of ‘lo’ is thirty-six.” In this passage, the Hebrew word “for him” is “lo” which in Hebrew is spelled lamed vav, לו i.e. 36.

The number 36 has a mystical connotation too. In Hebrew, letters are also numbers, and the number eighteen spells out the Hebrew word for life or living, חַי, chai. So twice 18, twice life is 36. This is the most likely reason this number stuck.

Among some versions of the myth, the promised Messiah will be a Lamed Vavnik, who is also known as the Tzadik Hador, the righteous person of this generation. If the world is deemed ready, the Tzadik Hador will emerge as the Messiah.

 

Some Thoughts on the Myth 

Among the many gems, this is my favorite Judaic myth. It posits that anyone you meet might be the one who is responsible for upholding the world, therefore you should treat everyone with the utmost respect. But it also means that you could be one. You might be responsible for upholding the world. And therefore you should strive to be kind and humble and righteous in order that the world continues to exist.

This myth appears in many places throughout literature and pop-culture, but it’s not widely known outside of Jewish circles. Perhaps it’s most well-known usage is in Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, where one character is presumed be the long sought-after Tzadik Hador, the righteous person of his generation who might be the Messiah. But my favorite Lamed Vav story is the novel The Last of the Just by André Schwarz-Bart, about an ancestral line of Lamed Vav (in his novel, the Lamed Vav inherit the role from their fathers). Its steady build climaxes in a powerfully devastating ending during the Holocaust. It’s one of the best and most moving novels I’ve ever read.

I have been so enamored by this myth that I actually wrote a book about it: King of Shards.

In King of Shards, Daniel Fisher is abducted from his wedding by none other than Ashmedai, king of the demons, and is ushered down to the hell world known as Gehinnom (Gehenna). There he learns he is a Lamed Vavnik and that a group of demons have discovered the names of the hidden Lamed Vav and are killing them. The demons hope that by killing the Lamed Vav, the earth will be destroyed, and the abundance and peace that has long been denied them will be theirs at last. In order to stay alive and protect the other Lamed Vav, Daniel must team up with Ashmedai, the demon king, who has be dethroned and cast out of Sheol. Together, saint and demon, must race across the fragment universe of Gehinnom while chased by a fearsome demon army in order to get back to earth and save the Lamed Vav. The only problem is that Ashmedai may not be the most trustworthy of partners. He is a demon after all.

King of Shards incorporates many of the myths discussed here in this blog series, such as The Lamed Vav, Gehenna, SheolThe Shattered Vessels, The Ziz, and many more. And while I reference Jewish mythology often, I never let myself be constrained by it. So while King of Shards is based on Jewish myth, much of the mythology in the book is my own. Often I elaborated and expanded upon extant myths in the same way as Jews have been doing for thousands of years. What I hope I have created is work of adventure fantasy fiction that anyone might enjoy. But you folks who’ve stuck with me for these last thirty six days might get to enjoy the book just a little bit more. 

Thank you so much for sharing this journey of discovery with me! 

King of Shards is out today, and you can get a copy in print, ebook, and audio book. 

 

 


Interview in The Queens Courier

The The Queens Courier has just posted an interview I did with them last week about writing, my forthcoming novel King of Shards, and living in Ridgewood, Queens. From the article:

Ridgewood-based author Matthew Kressel has already been nominated for several awards for his short stories, and this October he will delve into a new realm when he releases his debut novel titled “King of Shards.”

Kressel has written more than 20 short stories in his career, including “The Sounds of Old Earth” and “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” which were both Nebula Award nominees for Best Short Story in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

“I’ve written a bunch of short stories, but this is my first novel,” Kressel said. “It’s very different. Novels give you obviously more space to explore ideas, you can take time with certain aspects of the story and plot that you can’t do in a short story. In a short story, every word has to count. And it’s not that it doesn’t count in a novel, it’s just that you have more breathing space, more room to play.”

You can read the full interview and article here.