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Jablokov, Alexander

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1956-    ) US author born Jablokow who began publishing sf with "Beneath the Shadow of her Smile" in Asimov's for April 1985, and who has since been fairly prolific in short forms, several stories being set in a future Boston (see Cities), comprising a central element of Future Boston (anth 1994) edited by David Alexander Smith, which is in fact a Braided novel. Other early stories appear in The Breath of Suspension (coll 1994); after a hiatus, new stories began to appear again in the new century. Jablokov stories such as "At the Cross-Time Jaunter's Ball" (August 1987 Asimov's) and "Many Mansions" (May 1988 Asimov's) display an exuberant fondness for collaging together widely different tropes that, in retrospect, seems mirrored in much sf of the subsequent two decades.

In its darkly suave competence, his first novel, Carve the Sky (1991), exhibits a smooth professional knowingness about how to convey effects unusual in first novels; the story, which opens on a clement, richly complex, low-tech Earth, is based on the premise that a viable human culture might consciously wish to inhabit a Planetary-Romance venue, and might indeed so legislate. Later portions of the tale, set on an outward-bound Spaceship (the discovery of whose drive nods to the Conceptual Breakthrough moment in classic sf) and introducing an elaborate set of metaphors linking art (see Arts) to the structure of the Universe (see Transcendence), are marginally less impressive. Its thematic sequel, River of Dust (1996), is set on Mars about 400 years hence, by which time politics and Religion and aesthetics and urban planning have all become (in a sense) one self-contemplative cultural enterprise; the novel applies an almost tropical density of reference to the Planetary Romances of writers such as Jack Vance.

Jablokov's second novel, A Deeper Sea (October 1989 Asimov's; exp 1992), was a very much harsher exploration of a Near Future venue, set during a savage world war in which dolphins with implants are extensively (and brutally) used to reconnoitre and to destroy. The denouement once again invokes an outward-bound spaceship, and is rich in images of escape and resolution. Nimbus (1993) is a noir tale, involving mind/machine interfaces, also in a Near Future Earth venue. Deepdrive (1998), Jablokov's last work before he ceased writing seriously for at least half a decade, engages very fully in the intricacies of the New Space Opera of the 1990s, with a complex quest plot revolving around the eponymous Faster Than Light drive and a passel of Alien races who activate the longing for Exogamy typical of recent authors in this mode; the writer whose influence is most visible here – and who may also have prefigured some of the novel's furious interactions between Sense of Wonder action and metaphysics – may be James Tiptree Jr. His eventual return to the novel, Brain Theft (2010), is an Equipoisal exuberantly gonzo Fantastic Voyage tale whose boundaries are a crazed Near Future America; the noirish detective protagonist, befuddled by a world seeming to long for the Singularity, makes little headway in his search for some implausible McGuffins. The underlying networks of conspiracy that configure the tale clearly evoke Thomas Pynchon, but even more clearly co-inhabit the kind of world that Terry Bisson's novels have occupied since the start of his career. Jablokov's return is very welcome. [JC]

see also: Space Flight.

Alexander Jablokov

born Evanston, Illinois: 29 April 1956




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