Review: “The Instructive Tale of the Archaeologist and His Wife” by Alexander Jablokov

3 of 5 stars.

This tale achieves a long-running parallel between an archaeologist & his career and the relationship of the archaeologist with his wife. This starts from the moment they meet:

. . . she warmed to him. But before she did, she felt compelled to confess to him her encounters with other lovers, both travelers and men from the towns around hers. It was a startling number.

For a couple of days, he found himself withdrawn, even hostile. It was always annoying when an uncovered artifact destroys a cherished hypothesis.

As a young idealist, the archaeologist is passionate about both his wife and career. Over time, his original passion drifts into new territory, sometimes distant. He starts to have doubts about some of the things he finds that corrupt a dig–random items, often from man’s pre-apocalyptic technological age that are found in layers they should not be. He also discovers his wife’s betrayal by joining in with cultist Obliviators who proclaim that archaeologists hide the true history of the rise and fall of technology–that it’s unthinkable that there is no trace of these developments.

He’s most surprised that for all of their advances, the technological age never mounted a single archaeological dig. The entire history of man and culture is writ in the layers–except for the age of technology. One particular dig-corrupting item disturbs him the most as it looks to be a souvenir from something that doesn’t fit into the records of known history . . .

“The Instructive Tale of the Archaeologist and His Wife” appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015 edited by Rich Norton and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in Asimov’s, July 2014.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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