Alexander Jablokov

 

I'm a writer, mostly of science fiction, with a new novel, Brain Thief.

The name is pronounced Yablokov, and the legal name is Jablokow.  My best friends can't spell or pronounce it, so you shouldn't worry about it either.

More here

Write me at alexjablokow [at] comcast.net

I'd love to hear from you.

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Appearances

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"The Forgotten Taste of Honey", Asimov's Science Fiction, October/November 2016 (upcoming)

"The Return of Black Murray", Asimov's Science Fiction, April/May 2016 (out now!)

"The Instructive Tale of the Archeologist and His Wife", Asimov's Science Fiction, July 2014

"Bad Day on Boscobel", The Other Half of the Sky.

"Feral Moon", novella, Asimov's Science Fiction, March 2013

"Since You Seem to Need a Certain Amount of Guidance", Daily Science Fiction, November 6, 2012

"The Comfort of Strangers", short story, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January/February 2012

"Blind Cat Dance" reprinted in Gardner Dozois's Best Science Fiction of the Year 28

"The Day the Wires Came Down", novelette, Asimov's Science Fiction, April/May 2011

"Plinth Without Figure", short story, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November/December 2010

"Warning Label", short story, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine August 2010

"Blind Cat Dance", short story, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine March 2010

Brain Thief, a novel, Tor Books, January 2010

 

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Reboot blog

 

Sunday
Aug072016

My Worldcon

It's been years since I've gone to Worldcon, but my life is quite different these days, so, after an indecent amount of waffling, I decided I would go to MidAmericaCon II, August 17-21.

And I actually have a pretty full schedule. So, if you haven't seen me in a while, stop by.  I'm always up for a beer. Plus, I'll be heading out to do tourist things (I've become oddly interested in the Union Station Massacre, for example) and would be glad of company.

My events:

Reading: Alex Jablokow

(Yeah, they've gotten my name wrong throughout. Happens)

Thursday 12:30 - 13:00, 2203 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)

I'll probably be reading part of a fantasy novella I have coming out in a couple of months, "The Forgotten Taste of Honey".

SF as Protest Literature

Thursday 16:00 - 17:00, 2502A (Kansas City Convention Center)

Science fiction has a history of political and sociological undertones. The genre is the starting point for dystopian fiction, among other forms of politically engaged fiction. How has SF become the literature of protest? What are examples of historical SF protest books and who is currently writing SF literature that protests (religion, gender inequality, gender identity, technology, politics, capitalism, etc.)? 

Bradford Lyau, Mark Oshiro, Jo Walton, Alex Jablokow (M), Ann Leckie

Autographing: Jeanette Epps, Alex Jablokow, Lyda Morehouse, Lawrence M. Schoen, Mary A. Turzillo

Friday 13:00 - 14:00, Autographing Space (Kansas City Convention Center)

Jeanette Epps, Alex Jablokow, Lyda Morehouse, Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen, Dr. Mary A. Turzillo Ph.D.

Economics vs. Technology in SF

Friday 18:00 - 19:00, 2502A (Kansas City Convention Center)

One of the benefits of science fiction technology is that brilliant innovations can be manufactured and used with ease in fiction without the messy question of "how do we finance this?" What happens when economics enter the picture? Is SF technology sustainable in the real world? Or would this brilliant technology from the bright, shiny future end up gathering dust?

John DeLaughter PhD (M), Alex Jablokow, L. E. Modesitt Jr., Luke Peterson, Rob Chilson

The Future of the City

Saturday 13:00 - 14:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)

As part of "The Future of" series we look at Cities. We consider what makes a city, whether it is a place of 350,000 people (Utrecht, the Netherlands), somewhere with a cathedral (Chichester, UK - population 27,000), or something else entirely. Over the centuries and throughout the world, cities have been defined and understood very differently, so what changes do we expect to come in the next decades or centuries?

Gary Ehrlich, Alex Jablokow (M), Luke Peterson, Renée Sieber, Brenda Cooper

Monday
Jul042016

See you at Readercon?

Readercon has moved this year, and will be at the Quincy Marriott, in Quincy, MA (if you're not from around here, that's pronounced 'quin-zee'), starting this Thursday night (July 7 - 10).  I have every intention of getting down there that first night, but it's a farther haul from the house than Burlington was, so we'll see.

My schedule is all on Friday:

2:00 PM    AT    Autographs. Alex Jablokow, Alex Shvartsman.

6:00 PM    5    Author Trademark or Personal Cliché? . F. Brett Cox, Gillian Daniels, Karen Heuler (leader), Alex Jablokow, Bud Sparhawk. Most writers occasionally suspect that they are writing the same type of story over and over again. Some writers set out to do so. Is this a good thing or bad? Our panelists will examine which writers persistently revisit the same images, themes, characters, or situations, and discuss when and for whom this revisiting works and when and for whom it does not. The panelists will discuss how they handle this situation, when they realize the story they're writing seems too familiar. Should the story be discarded because it's already been written, or should a writer continue and try to discover the source of the weird power it holds for them? Panelists will discuss which writers they admire, and what distinctive features make them exceptional and unique. Panelists will also come up with a few strategies to help audience members (and perhaps each other) see their work in a new light, using everything from literary influences to music and movies to dreams and the unconscious.

8:00 PM    6    The Future of Government . Christopher Brown, Alex Jablokow, Paul Park (leader), Steven Popkes. We like to think that US democracy is the ultimate and best form of government, but it has its weaknesses as have all the types of government that came before and exist today. What forms of government are coming? What new technologies, economic ideas, or environmental changes might play important roles in these new types of governance? Was Marx ultimately right and we just haven't gotten very far along his timeline yet? What forms of government have been proposed that haven't existed in the real world?

One mystery: whatever possessed me to sign up for an autographing session?  And they used my legal name instead of my pen name.  There seem to have been some organizational issues this year, so I'l just deal with it.
I hope to see you there.
Friday
Apr292016

Just call it semitasking

I've never been good at multitasking. It does take me a long time to get back to a task once interrupted. Now, of course, part of that is that I interrupt myself, and I interrupt myself when I don't really feel like doing what I'm doing.

Still, multitasking is part of our world, and no matter what strictures there are against it, everyone somehow feels like a warrior defeating three different opponents wielding different weapons when they deal with multiple tasks at once.

In reality, of course, one of those warriors would inevitably kill you, even if you were individually stronger and more adept than any one of them. So it is with the tasks we face. We'd be well advised to knock them off one at a time, and avoid challenging any other opponents until the blood of each earlier one is soaking the ground.

This was brought to mind via Kevin Drum, referring to a recent NYT story, Monotasking Gets a Makeover. Its message is simple: task switching is mentally expensive. It takes time and energy to do it.

We all know this, really. We know we should stop. Yet we still do it.

Part of recovering from this would be to rename the process. Multitasking does sound admirable, calling to mind busy parents also running a small business and keeping the house fabulous. That's dumb. It's not a place you want to be.

So I suggest a more accurate, but duller sounding term for it: call it semitasking. Try boasting to someone, "I'm really good at semitasking". You're really saying "I never use more than one cheek on any job!" The less pleased you feel with yourself for doing it, the more likely you are to avoid it.

Now, I should get back to what I was working on....

Sunday
Apr242016

SF words, generic and otherwise

The modern world is reworking its use of gendered pronouns and other references. While I am, in most circumstances, what David Foster Wallace's family called a "SNOOT" (in his essay "Tense Present"), intolerant of any Trotskyite deviationism in usage, it's surprising, at least to me, how latitudinarian I am about it: I go for the singular "they" in circumstances where the referent's biological sex is unknown or irrelevant, rather than the once-standard "he", the alternating "she" and "he", or any deliberately created new pronoun, like "ze".

Is part of the issue that "they", "them", and "those" are actually Viking in origin, unusually intimate examples of loan words from another language? I hardly think so, but it would be fun if opposition to the usage coalesced around a specifically anti-Viking, pro-Anglo Saxon axis, going for my personally favorite combo of pedantic and perverse.

That will at least give you context for some of the issues I am facing in a story I'm currently trying to wrap up.

It's the first in a planned series of stories set in an city on another planet inhabited by a wide range of intelligent species, and I'm feeling the lack of certain easily used words. Now, SF's history is long, and a vast critical, responsive, and fan literature exists in which these issues may well have been resolved, but if it has, I have not found the answers.

One problem is simply how to refer to these various species. You can already see the slight strain of not using "alien". None of them is alien...or rather, they all are, since none evolved on this world. And how about the other side of the relationship, "human", which is making a kind of tribal, exclusive claim? What is a term a member of one intelligent species uses for all other intelligent species, or for all the species including themselves? And what do Earth-evolved humans call themselves as a species? That might well be a formerly pejorative term used by some other species, which they now use for themselves.

Right now, I'm pretty much avoiding that issue, though am toying with humans calling themselves Oms, or something like that. Part of the issue is how much overhead to impose on the reader, who already has a lot of context to grab in this complex setting.

Then there is the issue of those pesky pronouns. What is the generic pronoun for a representative of an intelligent non-human species (sheesh, you can see how much I need that easy replacement for "alien")? Biological sexes are either different, or manifest in a way that's not clearly read by humans. But "it" seems wrong. Any attempt to use something like "they" brings our current transitional moment into distracting relief. "It" is certainly ungendered, but has a non-intelligent feel, since it's the term we currently use for objects and animals, or for newborns, if we're apprehensive that assuming a sex will let us in for criticism. For now, I'm using "it", albeit uncomfortably.

Finally, and less importantly, what do you call some squirmy segmented thing?  "Bug", while generic, really seems to imply something with an exoskeleton. "Worm" implies something really squishy, without visible segments, at least to me. And I do think a lot of smaller creatures throughout the universe will be segmented: that allows your developmental program to pump out a series of standard parts that can then be modified, adding legs, antennae, wings, or whatever, as arthropods do. "Pest" or "vermin" is more about their role in the consciousness of various intelligent beings, rather than about their appearance or biology. "Larva" or "parasite" make judgments about biology or ecological role. "Millipede" is too specific.

But I think I am supposed to be revising this story....  I was hoping that writing through my issues, I would come up with a snappy solution, but that hasn't happened. I don't want the reader to have to do extra work puzzling out non-standard terminology or pronouns, when that really isn't the point of the story.

What is the point of the story? The answer to that will only come when you read it--which you never will if I spend too much more time doing this!

 

Friday
Apr222016

Why "Elvira Madigan"?

I listen to classical music while I work. Few classical music announcers are permitted much personality, and they seldom say much about the music they are about to play.  Whenver someone plays Mozart's 21st piano concerto, they do feel obliged to say the music (the 2nd movement Adagio) was used in a movie, "Elvira Madigan", and some people call the concerto after that.

It's a great piece. I have a collection of Alfred Brendel playing those late piano concertos, and it's always tempting to listen to more than one. It's kind of a sin against self to listen to this music while doing something else in the first place, but letting these works blend into each other is even worse.

But why "Elvira Madigan"? Has anyone actually watched or even heard of this Swedish movie from 1967? Why do the announcers feel obliged to say this? What are we supposed to get out of it? It's an odd tic, no doubt originating with some marketing person at a record company. People who feel themselves immune from influence of any kind are often slaves of some defunct marketing person.