Fantasy Short Stories Reviews: Asimov's Science Fiction

Short Review: At the Old Wooden Synagogue on Janover Street

Brief Review

At the Old Wooden Synagogue on Janover Street features strong yet subtle character work that examines the American Dream and the injustices of war side-by-side. We see the dreams and hopes of a man saved from the Holocaust, with a wife and a son and a business that seems like a dream. The subtle writing style sneaks up on you, slowly pulling you into the plight of this man and his final moments. By the end, you’re heartbroken at the bitter reality of so many dreamers lost to the hatred of their enemies.

A Little More Depth

At the Old Wooden Synagogue on Janover Street is an alternate reality tragedy, depicting the perfect future for a man whose life has been filled with heartbreak. What begins as a day-in-the-life look at a 1950s family amidst a typical middle America diner becomes a ghost story as the man’s dead family walk through the door. They’re not tattered ghosts or lost souls, but normal people in a surprising place. As the story unfolds, something isn’t right and by the end, the tragedy is fully revealed. It’s a surprise ending to be sure, leaving you heartbroken over the true fate of this man. Imagining him lost in this alternate future as his world burns down around him is almost too much to bear. Libling has illustrated the lost hopes and dreams of those lost to the Holocaust, creating an alternate plane where they didn’t end amidst violence and were able to live full lives. It’s multifaceted and incredibly written.


Alternate Reality, Fantasy, War, Future, Past, Family Ties, Tragedy


At the Old Wooden Synagogue on Janover Street
Written by Michael Libling
Published in Asimov’s Science Fiction
September/October 2019

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