Is There a 12-Step Program for Science Fiction Addicts?

Joel Eisenberg
7 min readNov 4, 2019

First horror, and now this. No wonder why I wasn’t the world’s greatest student.

“Star Wars” (pre-”A New Hope”) 1977 theatrical program book

INTRODUCTION

My Bar-Mitzvah was pending in 1977. I was required to learn the usual Jewish prayers, in Hebrew, to sing aloud to a group of friends and family, most of whom would surely have no idea what I was saying. Or singing.

Except for some of the older ones, that is, those whose parents formally arrived in the U.S. via Ellis Island.

The Bar Mitzvah would be held in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn — then a predominantly Jewish neighborhood — and many of my older relatives did get by on some Yiddish 101 when they did not want the kids to know what they were saying. Some, like my immensely missed Uncle David Palatnek, knew the Hebrew word-for-word.

I could not disappoint him or my father, both having been raised in households where both Yiddish and some Hebrew were de rigueur. I needed to learn my haftorah portion, and fast.

Thing is, my two favorite comic book characters were having a cross-over that month, the titular characters from Marvel’s “Tomb of Dracula” and “Werewolf by Night.” This would surely be the dream clash of all dream clashes … and so I secretly read both issues cover-to-cover a dozen times when I was supposed to be studying my Hebrew.

(For more on my horror obsession, and the first part of this two-part series, read below.)

Now, I got through the Bar-Mitzvah okay, but it was touch-and-go for a bit. My parents were worried that I was not learning the Hebrew, and so they invited my rabbi to the apartment for dinner. This would be the first of several weekly dinners, until the Hebrew was pounded into my thick skull. However, when showing him my bedroom — with all of my genre collectibles prominently displayed — he looked at my velvet Mr. Spock black-light poster hanging with thumbtacks on my wall and proudly proclaimed, “Ah. Dr. Spock. I like him.”

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Joel Eisenberg

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.