|"Before the Beginning"|
Illustrated by John Picacio
|First Appearance||Futureshocks, Lou Anders, ed.|
|Reprinted||With a Little More Help from My Friends, Mike Resnick, ed.|
"Before the Beginning" is a science fiction short story written in collaboration by Harry Turtledove and Mike Resnick, published in Futureshocks, edited by Lou Anders, Roc, 2006; reprinted in With a Little More Help from My Friends, Farthest Star, 2012, edited by Resnick. Set in the future, the story focuses on the invention of the time-viewer, a device that can show events of the past, rather like a movie. The story quickly charts the uses the time-viewer was initially put to, including crime-scene investigation and the recording of more lurid moments of history (e.g. the assassination of JFK), before it is used for more scholarly purposes. Naturally, many of the presumptions held by humans are debunked or confirmed.
The main story itself focuses on the deaths of three cosmologists who attempt to go back and view what "existed" before the Big Bang. Each is found dead, for no clear cause. When the French police begin an investigation, one inspector also dies, and so it is left to his colleague Jacob Dreyfus (a descendant of Alfred Dreyfus and a Jew, so seen as somewhat expendable) to determine what these four men have seen that caused their deaths. What he discovers changes the course of human history.
Dreyfus sees the face of God, who, although rather imperious, nonetheless blesses Jacob, rather than cause his death. It is quickly deduced that Jacob (dubbed "Israel" by God at this point) was immune to ill effects because he is Jewish. In short order, nearly the entire world converts to Judaism.