Michael Blumlein. Success. (Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2013)

fsf13112The longest story in the issue, and it’s a good one. It’s a story about scientists and science, but the scientists are well drawn, believable people with characters and quirks, drives and desires, weaknesses and foibles. And the science is intriguing too.

Dr. Jim loses everything – academic career, house, wife, everything – as his obsession with a Unifying Theory of Life takes hold. His obsession and mania become such that he is finalised hospitalised, the psychiatrists probing him mentally and, erm, physically. But out of this comes a new Dr. Jim – literally.

Once more unto the breach, and is investigating genes, epigenes, and perigenes. He’s a mix of Dr. Frankenstein/Dr. Jekyll (keeping his monster in the basement) and with his Igor being his wife, a similarly driven scientist, in search of tenure, rather than the Universal Truth.

Dr. Jim’s focus on epigenes/perigenes drives him to the conclusion that there is an alternative to the slow creep of evolution, and that humans can make quantum leaps if the environment is right. And the story reflects this.

The interplay between Dr. Jim(s) and his wife(s) is clever, well-handled, and altogether it’s a subtle, rounded and substantial piece of writing.

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