When Michael Blumlein’s debut collection The Brains of Rats first appeared, it marked the arrival of a major new talent, earning widespread acclaim from mainstream critics as well as genre stalwarts Peter Straub, Harlan Ellison, Pat Cadigan and many others.
In the World Fantasy Award-nominated title story, a geneticist conflicted over his own sexuality, and the nature of male and female gender roles in general, proposes a drastic solution. The politically charged “Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Report” describes in chilling detail a surgeon’s evisceration of President Ronald Reagan. In “Bestseller,” a struggling novelist unable to sell his books must sell something else unthinkably horrific in order to provide for his family. In these and the nine other startlingly original stories in this collection, Blumlein blurs the boundaries between horror, science fiction and fantasy, creating a strange and nightmarish world not unlike our own, where nothing is what it seems.
This new edition features an introduction by bestselling horror novelist and screenwriter Michael McDowell.
“Michael Blumlein is something new, a real original. I think he will have a great impact on the horror field, but I don’t think anybody is going to be able to imitate him.” – Peter Straub
“Blumlein has an exceptional vision, and he conveys it with exceptional talent.” – Washington Post
“Blumlein’s first collection signals the appearance of a major talent on the horror scene. Subtle and chilling.” – Publishers Weekly
“Blumlein is a powerful and highly original voice. He writes like his soul’s on ice. Disturbing stuff. More please!” – Joe R. Lansdale
“The Brains of Rats is blindingly brilliant. Blumlein is beyond any genre, a genuinely great writer.” – Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love
“This is not a book for everyone. Only those who delight in splendid, original thinking and rich, pyrotechnical language need apply. . . . Mr. Blumlein carves enigmas and fabulous dark surprises from the magic mountain of his imagination.” – Harlan Ellison
“I didn’t read these stories, I hallucinated them. I dare anyone to read Blumlein’s work and come out the other side unchanged.” – Pat Cadigan
“Blumlein is an eclectic and daring writer, using experimental techniques and fragmented narrative to achieve spectacular results. The stories here are all disturbing and they all work – no small accomplishment for experimental fiction.” – Locus
The dozen stories in Blumlein's first collection signal the appearance of a major talent on the horror scene. Subtle and chilling in their spare suggestiveness, many of the short tales revolve around medical and surgical matters, but are not grossly gory. In ``Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Report,'' an extensive surgical procedure becomes a metaphor for Reaganomics at its cruelest. In a similar vein, ``Bestseller'' concerns a failed writer who is forced to sell off parts of his body to support his family. The title story, a 1987 World Fantasy Award nominee, examines the distress of a mad scientist torn by the contradictions of his own sexuality and by the amorphous nature of male and female sexual roles in general, for which he proposes a drastic solution.