In the opening story of this extraordinary collection, “California Burning,” a man must come to terms with a strange truth about his dead father, whose corpse refuses to be cremated. In “Snow in Dirt,” a man finds the woman of his dreams buried in a state of suspended animation in his garden. The burned-out fashion designer in “Hymenoptera” receives new inspiration when a chest-high, eight-foot-long wasp shows up in his studio. And in stories like “Twenty-two and You,” “The Roberts,” and “Know How Can Do,” Blumlein explores the consequences—sometimes humorous, sometimes horrific—of scientific technologies such as genetic manipulation and the creation of artificial life.
Varying widely in theme and subject matter, these stories showcase the breadth and power of Michael Blumlein’s vision and once again reveal him to be one of the most original and fascinating of contemporary writers. They are stories that skirt the boundaries of fantasy, science fiction and horror, existing in a genre uniquely the author’s own.
This volume brings together all the short fiction published by Blumlein in the three decades since the original appearance of his award-winning collection The Brains of Rats (1989), including two stories published here in book form for the first time.
"Twenty-Two and You" • "California Burning" • "Paul and Me" • "Revenge" • "Snow in Dirt" • "The Big One" • "Hymenoptera" • "Greedy for Kisses" • "Fidelity: A Primer" • "Isostasy" • "Strategy for Conflict Avoidance: Memo to George W, Our Commander-in-Chief" • "Bird Walks in New England" • "The Roberts" • "Know How, Can Do" • "Bloom" • "Success" • "Choose Poison, Choose Life"
Readers who enjoy a wide range of genre fiction will be enamored with this collection of short stories from physician and author Blumlein, most of which blend Lovecraft-like lore with the earthy everydayness of Stephen King's fiction. In "California Burning," a man's body refuses to succumb to cremation, becoming something far stranger instead. "Twenty-Two and You" reminds readers that no technological advancement is without consequence; it flirts with the transphobic idea that womanhood is defined solely by the presence of female sex organs, while simultaneously interrogating the role of motherhood in being seen as and feeling like a woman. In "Know How, Can Do," Blumlein toys with evolutionary biology and the gender binary, giving lovers of science something to geek out on while prompting questions about the labels humans give themselves. It's clear that Blumlein did his research in an attempt to make this collection inclusive, and it falls short only rarely. His work will delight readers who enjoy thinking deeply about social constructs and how they relate to science.