cover image The Healer

The Healer

Michael Blumlein, . . Pyr, $25 (361pp) ISBN 978-1-59102-314-2

In Blumlein's haunting literary SF novel, Payne, a "Grotesque" (or "Tesque"), can draw disease from patients into his own body, then extrude the sickness as an abstractly shaped "Concretion" from an organ in his side. Few Tesques—whose misshapen appearance from a bump on the skull distinguishes them from normal humans—develop the ability to heal. Taken from his family to train as a physician, Payne imagines the fulfillment to be found in helping others, despite the prejudice most people have against Tesques. Driven by idealism, he attempts to cure a fellow healer of "the Drain," an affliction that's slowly destroying her talent. But Payne reverses the problem, leaving her too sensitive to work. Later, searching for forgiveness, he works to save a small church, only to be rejected by its new congregation. "Sometimes a patient had to be brought to the very brink of death before... he could be healed," Dr. Blumlein (The Movement of Mountains ) tells us, and this original, surreal and extraordinary book shows why. Blurbs from Kim Stanley Robinson and Peter Straub, as well as the author's status as a finalist for World Fantasy and Stoker awards, bode well for sales. Agent, Richard Parks . (July 5)