cover image The Breath of Suspension

The Breath of Suspension

Alexander Jablokov. Arkham House Publishers, $20.95 (318pp) ISBN 978-0-87054-167-4

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. (July)