Blumlein, Michael 1948-
Blumlein, Michael 1948-
Medical doctor and writer. Student Health Services, University of California at San Francisco, Mission Bay Clinic, San Francisco, CA, staff physician. Also served on the faculty of the Division of General Internal Medicine and worked in the Screening and Acute Care Clinic.
The Movement of Mountains (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1987.
The Brains of Rats (short stories), Scream Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1989.
X, Y (novel), Dell/Abyss (New York, NY), 1993.
The Healer (novel), Pyr (Amherst, NY), 2005.
Contributor of stories to periodicals, including Interzone.
X, Y was adapted for film.
Michael Blumlein is a medical doctor who has received recognition as the author of science fiction tales. In 1987 he published The Movement of Mountains, a novel set in a near future of scant natural resources and rampant viral disorders. The novel's hero is Jules Ebert, a doctor who forsakes his demanding responsibilities at a San Francisco health clinic and travels with his lover, a biologist, to the distant planet of Eredis. There, Ebert encounters Domers, a race of giants genetically bred to toil in a drug mine. While Ebert comes to sympathize with the plight of the Domers, his lover succumbs to a fatal virus. After her death, she is dissected by Ebert, who learns that the virus enables its victims to transfer their thoughts to others. His lover's thoughts have entered into a Domer who, in turn, becomes increasingly rebellious towards the domineering Eredis natives. Colin Greenland, in a Times Literary Supplement appraisal, found the novel to be "remarkable." A science fiction reviewer for the Washington Post Book World hailed The Movement of Mountains as "one of the best books of the year."
The Brains of Rats, published in 1989, is a collection of short stories, many of which had been previously published in magazines. Notable among the tales in this volume is "Tissue Ablation," in which doctors punish former president Ronald Reagan by removing his limbs and organs and using them as source material for food in the world's impoverished regions. The book also includes the stories "Drown Yourself," which describes copulating androids, and "Keeping House," in which an obsessive homemaker suffers increasingly disturbing fantasies. A Washington Post Book World contributor, noting Blumlein's "dark and subversive sensibility," described The Brains of Rats as "disturbingly imaginative."
Blumlein is also the author of X, Y, a novel about Frankie de Leon, an alcoholic stripper who suddenly finds herself absorbing the personality of a male patron. An initially obliging lover soon grows tired of Frankie's predicament. But as Frankie struggles to gain her emotional equilibrium, she also tries to exact a measure of revenge against the former lover, whom she has come to perceive as obsessive.
In his science fiction-fantasy novel The Healer, Blumlein focuses on the mutant humanoid Payne, a grotesque, or "tesque," whose innate ability to heal leads him to training and then work healing others, all the while being treated like a slave by normal humans who live on a colonized planet. Payne heals by drawing the sickness or disease into himself and then getting rid of it through a strange opening in his chest called the meli. Eventually Payne becomes known as one of the best healers in generations, leading to his manipulation by those in power. His situation is complicated by the fact that he has disobeyed the law and tried to heal another healer. Writing on the Science Fact and Science Fiction Concatenation Web site, Jonathan Cowie commented that Blumlein "crafts an enjoyable read that on one hand is easy while on the other successfully conveying the differences of an other world necessary for his plot's development." Mathew L. Moffett, writing in the School Library Journal, called The Healer "fresh and surprising," adding that "the conclusion delivers a message that lingers." In a review in Booklist, Carl Hays wrote that the author "has a gift for beautifully evocative prose." A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to the novel as an "original, surreal and extraordinary book." Jackie Cassada, writing in the Library Journal, commented on the author's "graceful prose and compelling characters," and the "somber and beautiful story."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2005, Carl Hays, review of The Healer, p. 1910.
Library Bookwatch, October, 2005, review of The Healer.
Library Journal, July 1, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of The Healer, p. 72.
Publishers Weekly, May 23, 2005, review of The Healer, p. 63.
School Library Journal, October 2005, Matthew L. Moffett, review of The Healer, p. 198.
Times Literary Supplement, November 4, 1988, Colin Greenland, review of The Movement of Mountains, p. 1237.
Village Voice, February 6, 1990, review of The Brains of Rats, pp. 57-58.
Washington Post Book World, August 30, 1987, review of The Movement of Mountains, p. 8; May 27, 1990, review of The Brains of Rats, p. 8.
Infinity Plus,http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/ (November 30, 2006), Claude Lalumière, review of The Healer.
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (November 30, 2006), information on author's film work.
Science Fact and Science Fiction Concatenation,http://www.concatenation.org/ (November 30, 2006), Jonathan Cowie, review of The Healer.
SFSite,http://www.sfsite.com/ (November 20, 2006), Victoria Strauss, review of The Healer.
StrangeHorizons.com,http://www.strangehorizons.com/ (November 30, 3006), Lori Ann White, review of The Healer.
University of California at San Francisco Medical School Web site,http://medschool.ucsf.edu/ (November 30, 2006), "UCSF Physician Publishes Third Novel."