Illustration By Bob Aufuldish
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Dust jacket illustration by Bob Aufuldish.

Introduction by Jonathan Lethem.

Michael Blumlein was one of the most singular writers to be associated with the science fiction genre. Active from the 1980s until his death in 2019, he produced a body of work notable for its literary ambition, its urbanity, its depth and breadth of subject matter, and its sly deadpan humor.

A medical doctor and San Francisco native, Blumlein’s profession and locale deeply informed his fiction. The physician and the author were fascinated by the human body, mind, and spirit, and their always complex connections. These two perspectives on the same subject, clinical and compassionate, created a unique parallax.

He wrote several novels, but the short story and the novella were central to his art.

Short includes all of the shorter fiction Blumlein published in his lifetime, spanning four decades. It includes one previously unpublished story, “Passenger,” and one never before reprinted, “Softcore”. Arranged chronologically, the stories afford a clear view of Blumlein’s evolution as a writer.

The earlier stories from the ’80s are tinged with horror, viewed with a clinical eye; “The Brains of Rats,” “Tissue Ablation,” and “Shed His Grace” are legendary for their power to disturb. The later stories, like “The Big One,” “Isostasy,” “Know How Can Do,” and “Twenty Two and You” reveal a mastery of craft and a generosity of heart toward every variation of the human (and nonhuman) condition.


Limited: 750 numbered hardcover copies


Table of Contents:

  • Introduction by Jonathan Lethem
  • The Brains of Rats
  • Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration
  • The Domino Master
  • Drown Yourself
  • Interview with C.W.
  • Shed His Grace
  • Keeping House
  • The Glitter and the Glamour
  • The Promise of Warmth
  • The Wet Suit
  • Bestseller
  • Softcore
  • Passenger
  • Revenge
  • The Thing Itself
  • Bloom
  • Hymenoptera
  • Snow in Dirt
  • Paul and Me
  • Fidelity
  • Isostasy
  • Know How, Can Do
  • Greedy for Kisses
  • Strategy for Conflict Avoidance
  • Y(ou)r Q(ua)ntifi(e)d S(el)f
  • The Big One
  • Bird Walks in New England
  • Twenty-Two and You

From Paul di Filippo at Locus Online:

“Theodore Sturgeon was at heart a romantic who believed in testing his characters to destruction, presenting them with ‘impossible’ challenges precisely slanted to their basic natures, which they must overcome to reach stability and happiness, in a universe slightly weighted towards goodness and grace. Blumlein reminds me often of Sturgeon, except that his characters generally fail their ordeals in a cosmos that is indifferent at best and hostile at worst. Which worldview hews more accurately to reality is debatable. But like Sturgeon, Blumlein was deeply authentic, caring, and desirous of sharing his vision with the world.”




Bob Aufuldish
Michael Blumlein
424 pages
United States