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Michael Blumlein, June 28, 1948 – October 24, 2019

Monday, October 28th, 2019 | Posted by Gordon Van Gelder

Michael Blumlein The Movement of Mountains-small

Last summer, I got an email from Michael Blumlein about how much he liked Audrey Schulman’s PKD Award-winning novel Theory of Bastards and in the email, he said, “What are you doing that keeps you smiling these days?”

So I sent him a response by mail and since then, we’d been swapping dead-tree correspondence. I’m pretty sure he had no fear of dying, but he was so full of life that it’s sad to learn the end has come.

But it’s not the end, in that he lives on — through his family (to whom my sympathies go out) and through his work, which was simply amazing.

The Movement of Mountains┬ácame out shortly before I started working at St. Martin’s, but I did some mop-up work on it (I probably contacted him when the remaining copies of the book were remaindered, for instance). I can’t remember where or when we first met — it was before the ’93 Worldcon, I’m certain of that — but we always seemed to have a good time.

When I took the F&SF reins from Kris Rusch, the first story I bought was Michael’s “Paul and Me.” It remains one of my favorite stories. I think my enjoyment of the story is enhanced by the memory of some outraged letters we got over Michael’s bold revisionist treatment of an American myth. Michael considered writing a whole series of stories about the deaths of American folk heroes.


His talent was immense and his vision was unique. I can pretty safely say that no one else might have written “The Roberts” or “Success” or “Fidelity: A Primer.” I feel lucky just to have had a hand in bringing them out and I hope they endure.

One of things I adored about Michael was that he didn’t live large — he lived full. There was never any sense that Michael wanted to put on a show. He just loved life, was fascinated by many facets of it, and wanted to enjoy them all.

Today it might be hard to smile, but I’m sure that in the days ahead, memories of Michael Blumlein will keep us smiling.


Gordon Van Gelder is the publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. His last article for us was Remembering Michael D. Weaver.

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