A Deeper Sea

The Alexander Jablokov series continues with an expansion of an earlier Jablokov work into a novel.

Raw Feed (1993): A Deeper Sea, Alexander Jablokov, 1992.Deeper Sea

I didn’t like this novel version as well as the novella version of the same name.

The dolphins – the best part of this novel and the novella – are just as obnoxious, petty, irritating, and sexually perverted as in the original novella. They, in fact, seem more vicious here as do the philosophical orcas: drowning sailors when no one’s around and saving them dramatically when someone is.

But their motives seemed diffused by the novel’s length.

Their religion only comes across has half understood, an unclear motivation for driving whale Clarence on the rocks and for orcas taking an interest in dolphin messiah and God’s Remora Weismuller.

Jablokov does a nice job in evoking the phrases of a dolphin language as well as their obsession with hierarchy, sex, and eating. After all, with no opposable thumbs and no fire, there’s not a lot for them to do. And the idea of a dolphin language that mimics the echoes of real objects is a great idea.  The act of echoing, in dolphin mythology, is an act of creating and describing the world. Continue reading “A Deeper Sea”


Stealing Other People’s Homework: “Gustav Meyrink”


I reviewed Meyrink’s The Green Face awhile back, so I thought I’d link to David Barnett’s “Gustav Meyrink: The Mysterious Life of Kafka’s Contemporary“.

“Living Will”

The Alexander Jablokov series continues.

Raw Feed (1991): “Living Will”, Alexander Jablokov, 1991.Living Will

A very poignant story built around a simple premise: what if you could encode a simulation of your personality into a piece of software and let it make the decision when a disease had changed you so much (here Alzheimers) your old, encoded self wouldn’t want to go on living and burdening others and would tell you to kill yourself?

Jablokov deals with this painful philosophical and emotional issue well and also does a nice job with the relationship between the protagonist and his wife.

Another rendition of one of Jablokov favorite themes: death.


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“The Place of No Shadows”

The Alexander Jablokov series continues.

I’ll return to this story at another time since it’s part of the Future Boston shared world series Jablokov wrote some stories for.

Raw Feed (1991): “The Place of No Shadows”, Alexander Jablokov, 1990.Place of No Shadows 

This story’s main flaw is that it’s too short.

Ostensibly, the story’s main conflict is whether Lester Kronenbourg can talk Chris Tolliver, zoologist/student of alien physiology, into joining him in an institute to define man’s place in a strange universe full of aliens. That universe is well symbolized in a stinking Boston that’s become an interstellar port full of strange, sometimes sinister aliens.

As with the cultural conflicts of human’s history, the alien/human meeting has produced poignant, silly, sometimes tragic attempts at human imitation (sometimes even radical surgery) reminiscent of Melanesian Cargo Cults and pathetic American Indians.

This is well portrayed in the subplot of Gavin Mercour, graduate student in Systematic Physiology. Mercour turns on his alien spiritual teacher who promises to let Mercour see the world — via telepathy — as he does. The experience — a view of the universe unorganized by chronological sequence or surface appearances — is senseless. Mercour’s hope that each alien has a unique insight, a light, to illuminate the world,is dashed, and he is murdered (petrified alive by the sinister alien Targive with their obscene technology of twisting living matter to their ends).  Continue reading ““The Place of No Shadows””


This week’s Deep Ones reading over at LibraryThing is an early Ligotti work.

Review: “Vastarien”, Thomas Ligotti, 1987.New Lovecraft Circle

Ligotti’s story plays not only with some motifs of H. P. Lovecraft but a particular type of weird or horror tale.

It’s also a play on the bookworm clichés on “every book has an ideal reader”.

And it might be commentary on literary cultists and how some jealously guard their “exclusive” relationships with their literary gods.

The plot is, as you would expect from Ligotti, fairly uncomplicated. Continue reading ““Vastarien””

“The Death Artist”

The Alexander Jablokov series continues.

Raw Feed (1991): “The Death Artist”, Alexander Jablokov.Death Artist

This tale of a decadent far future was a disappointment given the author and subject matter: suicide as an art form amongst constantly regenerated immortals and, the corollary, the manipulation of events among the Bound, unfortunately mentioned little more than in passing, to create spectacular mass deaths for them. (This is sort of like the manipulation of alternate histories as art in Jablokov’s “At the Cross-Time Jaunters’ Ball“)

So, here again, are some of Jablokov’s characteristic themes: art, death, and, perhaps, guilt.

The story of a sadistic man being killed by his sister and her guilt causing his personality to be reborn in her, could be compelling.

It wasn’t here, though.

However, I did like cyborg Abias loyalty to Orfea cum Elam.

The ending, where Abias is killed and the Elam personality reasserts its sadistic self for good over Orfea seemed just a horror story cliche: the evil that would not die. Appropriate, I suppose, for a story dealing with immortals.


More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

“A Deeper Sea”

The Alexander Jablokov series continues.

Review (1991): “A Deeper Sea”, Alexander Jablokov, 1989.Deeper Sea

I liked this story.

It had one of Jablokov’s usual three themes (death, art, religion): religion (and a bit of death).

The story is noteworthy on the idea level for a couple of reasons.

First, Jablokov, unlike just about anyone else who deals with intelligent dolphins, doesn’t glamorize or make them into cute, playful (in fact they seem to be notably lacking in humor) creatures. He describes them through one character as: “contemptible, corrupt, sexually perverse bunch of braggarts, cowards, and fools”. They turn into terrorists to boot after the U.S.-Soviet war. Jablokov does a nice job with his near future where the war occurs in the 2020s and marks Japan’s naked ascent into military superpowerdom.

In an oh-so-Japanese touch, they imprison war criminals at Bataan in a camp named for General Homma, commander of the Japanese force in the WWII Philippines.

Jablokov does a nice job with dolphin culture, religion, language (vulgar with little sense of fiction or unliteralness) and, particularly, perceptions. Jablokov approaches the depiction of the dolphins as if they were aliens which they are. The sonic sense of the dolphins combined with their language produce a brain that can exactly depict a real place with sounds — and cause hallucinations when man reproduces the sonic map of an area. When Colonel Ilya Stasov tries to communicate with the dolphins (dolphins and humans have not communicated since the Minoan civilization fell), he unwittingly tortures them with his sonic maps.

They do anything he asks including becoming brutal cyborgs in the war. And then Stasov realizes his “crimes” (an orca tells him he only did what was necessary and, therefore, did not commit a crime). Therein lies a tale of guilt, religion, and expiation. Like Vikram Osten in Jablokov’s “The Breath of Suspension“, Stasov becomes a tool in a religious quest.

But whereas Osten is manipulated by St. Aya Ngomo, Stasov is the manipulator of cetaceans and their religion. He arranges events to get a cyborged whale, a dolphin messiah (and dolphin Weissmuller, a cowardly, very unwilling John-the-Baptist type figure for the Messiah, or, as they put it, the Echo of God), and other cyborged dolphins into space — whether they want to or not.

Exactly why this will be sufficient penance for his past crimes against dolphindom is unclear. After all, the dolphins didn’t ask for this. Stasov even knowingly tortures Weissmuller to do this — and tells him he must live with the pain of his destiny. Stasov is a Moses type figure leading an unwilling flock out of bondage. Exactly why he feels this to be penance or his destiny is unclear and the story’s weakest point. (The tortured Weissmuller will take over as a sort of Aaron after Stasov’s death.).

Like Aya Ngomo manipulating Osten’s life to gain a new space drive in Jablokov’s “The Breath of Suspension”, Stasov manipulates affairs and incidentally gets Erika Morgenstern’s dream of humans in space realized.


More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.