Physician and Author Michael Blumlein, 1948-2019

We are sad to report that author Michael Blumlein passed away on October 24th, 2019, following a long battle with lung cancer. He was 71 years old.

Blumlein was a writer and a physician, as well as a faculty member at the University of California in San Francisco. He authored short fiction collections The Brain of Rats, What the Doctor Ordered, All I Ever Dreamed, and Thoreau’s Microscope, as well as the novella The Roberts, and several novels. He also wrote for film and stage, and his novel X, Y was adapted into a movie in 2011. He was nominated twice for the World Fantasy Award and the Bram Stoker Award, and received the ReaderCon Award. His short story “Fidelity: A Primer” was short-listed for the Tiptree Award.

His latest work was Longer, a novella that ruminated on love, age, and mortality, in part inspired by his battle with lung cancer. He said of the novella “Longer is not a how-to book, but rather the story of one man’s attempt to face the inevitable with dignity, humor, and courage.”

Blumlein was candid about his illness, but also about his desire to aid others. In an interview with Locus Magazine, he said, “Ever since I can remember, I’ve had these two drives and these two loves: self-expression and helping people. They’ve always been there for me, and I managed to create a life where I could do both.”

An author who could appreciate the strangeness of human life, Blumlein had a feeling that some of his early work was categorized as horror due to his training as a doctor: “There’s a certain doctor’s voice I can fall into quite easily, which is very detached, very objective – the way that two doctors or health practitioners might talk to each other about a patient when the patient’s not there.” But he found it horrifying himself to have his stories classified in such a way, noting that as a doctor, finding ways to treat the human body held a specific fascination for him.

He was forthcoming on many topics that others would just as soon avoid. (Earlier this year he offered us a piece on books people might want to read while staring death in the face.)

Michael Blumlein’s work was thoughtful, unusual, warm, and full of wonder. We extend our condolences to those affected by his passing. He will be deeply missed.

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