The robotTime travelSpace flight

  • Issue: December 2000
  • Designer: Avi Katz
  • Stamp Size: 25.7 mm x 40 mm
  • Plates nos.: 420,421, 422
  • Sheet of 15 stamps, Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Science fiction, the literature of unbounded imagination, has always looked forward to the near and distant future. SF writers, many of them scientists in their own right, as well as film and TV makers and other artists, have depicted visions of the future, showed vistas of other worlds, portrayed aliens and described humans coping with extraordinary circumstances. This series of stamps is a first in Israeli philately. Each stamp is devoted to a major science fiction theme, revealing its roots in early Jewish literature and showing its shape in the future.

The robot, a mechanical contrivance in the (sometimes rebellious) service of
humankind, first came into Jewish literature as the Golem. A famous rabbi, the Maharal of Prague (c. 1512-1609), according to legend, created it from clay, brought it to life with incantations, and set it to guard the city's ghetto. Centuries later a Jewish-American writer, Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), "created" his own "positronic robots". Asimov's robots could think and act for themselves, but they were bound to the "three laws of robotics" which ensured their subservience. The robots which serve us today in many industrial plants have not yet reached the same capabilities, but they seem to have a great future.

Time travel, mankind's yearning to skip over many years at once in order to
observe the future or uncover the secrets of the past, has always tantalized humanity. The Talmudic Hon! of the Circle (1st century B.C.E.) achieved this by sleeping through seventy years, waking up to see his great-great-grandchildren. In 1895 the Englishman H.G. Wells (1866-1946) wrote "The Time Machine" which launched his protagonist into the distant future. Nowadays physics recognizes time travel as a theoretical possibility. Involving as many paradoxes as it does, however, it remains controversial at this time.

Space flight is another great attraction. There are numerous worlds in outer space, and we desire to climb into a chariot of fire, like the prophet Elijah, and visit them. The first stop along the route is the Moon, and the Frenchman Jules Verne (1828-1905) sent there the protagonists of his "De la terre a la lune" in 1864. One hundred and four years later, the first men landed on the Moon, and now we look forward to Mars, and beyond.

Emanuel Lottem Ph.D.
Chairman, Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy

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Science Fiction - Robotics, Travel in Time, Travel in Space