The Roberts

Michael Blumlein

Unable to find someone to love, innovative architect Robert decides to craft his perfect woman: lovely, compassionate Grace. Although Robert adores Grace, he finds himself still subsumed by his work. Robert must confront all that is dearest to him: his career, his love for Grace, and—hardest of all—himself.


The Roberts

by Michael Blumlein

ISBN: 9781616960278

Published: 2010

Available Format(s): Chapbook and eBooks

Robert Fairchild is a genius.
He is also lonely.

Dubbed “the one-eyed architect,” Robert and his innovative buildings are praised to the skies. Suddenly his masterpiece, a dome made from a living membrane, collapses in on its inhabitants. Meanwhile his relationships disintegrate as he chooses his work over his lovers. Reeling from failure and paralyzed by self-doubt, what Robert needs is inspiration.

Robert needs Grace.

Unable to find someone to love, Robert decides to craft his perfect woman. But creating a woman is far more complicated than creating a building. Although Robert adores the lovely and compassionate Grace, he finds himself once again subsumed by his work. Their attempt at compromise has entirely unforeseen consequences. Suddenly trapped in a game of passion and jealousy, Robert is forced to confront all that is dearest to him: his work, his love for Grace, and, hardest of all, himself.

“Blumlein has a gift for beautifully evocative prose.”

“Blumein knows how to tell a story and how to hold a reader’s attention.”

“Blumlein is beyond any genre, a genuinely great writer.”
—Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love 

Michael Blumlein is the author of The Movement of Mountains; X,Y; and The Healer. His collection of short stories, The Brains of Rats, won the 1991 Readercon Award. X,Y is the basis for the movie of the same name directed by Vladimir Vitkin. His second short-story collection will be published by Centipede Press.

Praise for The Healer

 “…[a] haunting literary SF novel…original, surreal, and extraordinary….”
Publishers Weekly

The Healer is one of those special works of art that has the power to change forever your view of the world and your own bodily reality. A disturbing, beautiful, unforgettable novel.”
—Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Years of Rice and Salt and Green Mars

“Quietly told and passionately felt, this is a book of real and rare originality.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin

Visit the Michael Blumlein website.


Long before Grace, before Claire and Felicity, before the two men who wrecked his life, there was him and him alone, Robert Fairchild, first and only child of June and Lawrence, warm and cozy in his mother’s womb. He was two weeks overdue at birth, as though reluctant to leave that precious, corpuscular, sharply scented, deeply calming place—determined, as it were, to remain attached. When at last his mother, weary of a tenacity that at other, less pressing, times she would come to admire, served notice and forced him out, young Robert, shocked and indignant, cried a storm.

His father was a physicist, an academic devoted to his work, highly respected by his colleagues and rarely at home. He was raised by his mother, who adored him, and he learned, as many sons do, that love bears the face and the stamp of a woman.

He excelled in school and, following in the footsteps of his father, chose mathematics as a career. But midway through college he was bitten by another bug and abandoned math for art. First painting, which proved beyond his grasp, then sculpture, which tantalized him. Sadly, his work was never more than mediocre; some of it, by any standard, his own included, was out and out ugly. And these were not the days when ugly was beautiful. These were the days when beautiful was beautiful, and beauty reigned supreme.

His failure was discouraging, all the more because he expected to succeed, as he had all his life until then. He lost confidence in himself, a new experience, and on the heels of this his spirits spiraled down. Eventually, he decided to drop out of school. But on the way to deliver his letter of resignation, he ran into a fellow student—literally collided with her. She was standing at the edge of the sidewalk, a sketchpad open, a pencil in hand, utterly absorbed in the rendering of an old stone building for one of her classes.

Her name was Claire. The class was architecture. Their collision marked the beginning of a love affair that lasted just a few short years, but of a career, for Robert, that lasted a lifetime.  Everything that was unattainable and wrong in his work as a sculptor was uncannily right in his work, first as a student, then apprentice, architect, as if some slight, but fatal, flaw in his eye, or his compass, had been corrected. For this he credited Claire. She was his first great love. Through her he found his calling. Through her he learned, not incidentally, how sweet and vivifying love could be.

She restored his confidence. She invigorated him and inspired his earliest work. In the brief time they were together she gave him everything, it seemed, a man could want, and when at length she left him, citing his self-centeredness and preference for work over her, she gave him something new, the devastating side of love, the heartache and the sorrow. For what she said was true, he had poured his love for her into his work, to a fault, neglecting the real live person. It was a terrible mistake, which he vowed never to repeat. He had a contempt for mistakes, rivaled only by—as an aspiring young architect—his contempt for repetition.

After Claire left, he had an awful time. Guilt, anger, loneliness, self-recrimination, despair: the usual stuff. He couldn’t work, and that was worst of all, because his career was just beginning, and he needed work to feel like a man, to feel worth anything. And then in a freak accident he lost an eye, and what had seemed bad