"Darkly suave competence" is how The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction refers to Jablokov's first novel, Carve the Sky
, and the phrase could easily apply to many of the stories in this, Jablokov's first short story collection. Ranging from time travel to artificial intelligence, Jablokov covers a lot of ground in the ten stories here, although readers will quickly notice recurring themes both of art and self-identity amidst colorful, retro-decadent future worlds. Although his technique and consistency vary, Jablokov shows with his powerful, dynamic prose that he's a writer worth watching.
From Publishers Weekly
These 10 short stories by Jablokov ( Carve the Sky ) won't be new to most SF devotees, since versions of each have appeared in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine over the past nine years. But reading them together is an exciting experience. Tales of widely differing lengths address various alternative near futures. All share a reverence for myth and remembrance, from the title story, about an ancient and ambivalent monk whose patron saint is the never-dying astronaut blasting away from Earth at light speed, to the tale of a lunatic dolphin messiah "swimming" through the atmosphere of Jupiter ("A Deeper Sea"). A 20th-century mathematician in the early stages of Alzheimer's imprints his personality, with its moral qualms and aesthetic indulgences, on a computer so that it may remember his values and survive his dissolution ("Living Will"). In a comic vein, interstellar time-travelers track down "Religion Pushers" by jaunting through the centuries in pursuit of an Artifact Junkie ("Many Mansions"). And in yet another universe, trench warfare continues in France for much of the 20th century as soldiers refuse to give up combat ("Beneath the Shadow of Her Smile"). Jablokov's canvas is broad, but through it all there runs a tint of lyricism and a regard for mind and spirit that could extend the collection's appeal.
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