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
Sep042016

Writing and rewriting

"Writing is rewriting" is a common phrase in the writing business, in forms like "the best writing is rewriting" or "the only kind of writing is rewriting", attributed to various famous writers. Some thoughts occur multiple times, writers steal from each other, and famous names collect attributions to things other people said, so it doesn't matter who first wrote it.

For me, this is more true than for many other writers. No matter how hard I work to get a workable, clear, and functioning structure for a story (and I do spend a fair amount of time at it), what I get when I'm done with my first draft is something that doesn't make much sense.

It doesn't help that my inherent cast of mind is twisty, complicated, devious, and somewhat illogical. The plots that vibrate with energy in my mind tend to be baroquely extravagant, not episodic or straightforward. I wish it were not so. I love reading many things where the plot is clear, and something you could explain to someone else without diagrams.

But in writing, at some level, you take what you have been given. Some ideas just have more energy than others, even as you pick them up out of the muck of your mind to see if they are even possible to work with. To get anything done at all, you have to take the ones that will help you turn them into stories. For me, anyway, a simple, uncooperative idea is still harder to finish than a complicated, "please write me" idea.

I write slowly, and revise even more slowly. So it's no surprise that it takes me a long time to get something done. I write story. I reflect on it. I revise it. I send it to my workshop. My workshop is perplexed, but professional, so they tell me what works and what doesn't. I reflect some more. I rewrite it. Sometimes, with a particularly troublesome story, I go to another workshop, and they (usually unaware of how much work I've already put into it) assume it is a confused first draft and give me more useful information.

Then I sit and really reflect on each part, and prepare to rewrite, taking comments into account. That's what I did this last week, on a novella that is the first of a planned series. Yesterday I spent nearly all day getting things to make sense.

And that's before even starting to do actual prose.Today Faith and I are off to visit her brother Simon in New Hampshire. Tomorrow, Labor Day, the actual prose goes into the furnace. That's good, because, though I haven't been in school for decades, Labor Day, when the first cool days return, is what I feel is the true beginning of the year for me.

And an editor would like to see that story, but has a tight deadline on when. Wish me luck.

Thursday
Sep012016

Trouble in the Eighteenth Dynasty

There has recently been serious trouble between two public figures with exaggerated facial features.

Are you really sure this is the last time?Of course, this picture is from 2013, the last time Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin had some technology-enabled marital trouble, not this most recent (and seemingly final) time.

But what's really interesting is discovering who they are the reincarnations of:

Instead of playing with monotheism, why don't you run for mayor?That's right, back in the fourteenth century BCE, Akhenaten and Nefertiti ruled Egypt, causing all sorts of trouble. And, odd bit of headgear aside, it looks like they have been reborn roughly 3,450 years later. The resemblance is actually startling.

Makes you wonder what life really was like back in old Amarna. Maybe more exciting than we have been permitted to remember. Finding that Akhenaten had been uncontrollably sending obelisk pics incised on slabs of basalt to some Hittite princess would really make that era more relatable.

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....