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The Brains of Rats

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  150 ratings  ·  28 reviews
In these twelve stories we enter the darkest corridors of America's hospitals. Meet a scientist who discovers how to predetermine and alter the sex of a pregnant woman's fetus, and proceeds to contemplate his own gender...and a surgeon whose primary practice is removing organs and limbs from unwilling patients to redistribute them to unfortunate victims in impoverished cou ...more
Hardcover, signed slipcased edition limited to 250 numbered copies, 197 pages
Published September 1st 1990 by Scream Press
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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mark monday
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to mark by: Scott
I didn't expect to be so moved and so challenged by a story collection with a title like "The Brains of Rats"... although I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting either. I knew the author was a physician and I first heard of the book in the Goodreads group Horror Aficianados, so maybe something with a lot of body-based horror, perhaps similar to Barker or many of Cronenberg's films.

I was so wrong. so very, very wrong! even the synopsis of the collection gets it absurdly wrong, with its doltish
3.5 Stars!

Michael Blumlein is not only an author, he's a doctor too. His medical background influences a lot of the stories in this collection.
A few of these tales really knocked me back-most especially "Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Study." It was told in Blumlein's crisp, cold, prose and I think that made the story even more horrific than it already was. 
Tissue Ablation was the second story in this collection and it was so good, my expectations were raised,(perhaps unreaso
Paul Nelson
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Brains of Rats by Michael Blumlein was originally released in 1989 and then re-released by Valancourt books with an introduction by Michael McDowell in May 2015. The author uses his medical background to stunning effect in twelve stories that certainly give pause for thought, chilling in its entirety, intelligent and horrifically memorable.
The second story the politically charged 'Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Report' describes in absolutely chilling and impersonal detail
Maxine Marsh

Great collection, tales of the power and powerlessness of human desire, stories of how science and medicine are constantly teetering the edge between a hopeful future or a hellish one. The standout story is "Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Report." Such a mundane title does not prepare you for the absolutely horrifying and jaw dropping narrative that awaits. It is one of the best short stories I've ever read, and possibly the scariest. Other good ones in the mix include "The Bra
Rob Twinem
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to categorize this book, certainly a mixture of SF, horror and most certainly weird fiction. It is however memorable with some of the stories so vivid and shocking in their imagery that they stay long in the mind after completion. Having learned that the author Michael Blumlein is by profession a physician it is not surprising that the content of many of the stories showcases his background, and this alone makes them all the more difficult to read and digest!

"The Brains of Rats" is an
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this one on audio.

What a disturbingly strange and oddly enjoyable collection of shorts. I am rarely at a loss for words when reviewing a work. This was good. Maybe even better than that.

The narration for this one was excellent. Seemed to fit the stories perfectly and I think really added to the dark and brooding atmosphere. Well done.

"I was given a free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review."
Derek Davis
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In this early short story collection, Blumlein shows that he can write all over the place – and does. His work is often shoved into the "horror" category, but the material here snoops into corners that defy characterization. SF yes, bizarre suppressed humor certainly, psychedelic explosion definitely. But his best booms an almost deadly factual voice, an unsettling remove that makes you want to scratch places that don't usually itch.
From what I've seen of his later stories, he isn't fully develo
Peter Tillman
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review is solely for the title story, which had an online reprint a few years ago:
First-rate story, about what makes men and women different, with footnotes!
It's had a number of previous reprints: , and is remarkably up-to-date for a 1986 story. I'd never read it, and it's a nice memorial for this just-deceased author. RIP, Mr. Blumlein.
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can't think of the last time I encountered a collection of dark fiction as imaginative and skillfully crafted as this. Goodreads' book description is rather ridiculous, making it sound as if the collection depends on gruesomeness and cheap horror for its effectiveness, whereas the most unsettling aspects of these stories revolve around the loss of one's sense of identity and the unreliability of our perceptions. Blumlein's background as a physician has clearly led him to wonder about the reali ...more
Scott Radtke
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, horror, sci-fi
It isn't surprising that Michael Blumlein is a doctor. His prose style is spare and somewhat clinical and has an unflinching quality which pairs nicely with these mostly disturbing stories.

There is a heavy emphasis on medical themes, more specifically medical horror, but there is more "whimsical" material in the collection as well. Those feel more old fashioned, lyrical, of the Mid-Century, Twilight Zone era. Even stories that seemed familiar also had a freshness about them (the story House Kee
Oct 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based upon a heavy recommendation from Will Errickson from Too Much Horror Fiction, I picked up Michael Blumlein's short story collection with fevered anticipation. Yet, the more I read, the colder I felt, and I ended up coming out of it with a profound feeling of indifference. Certainly, Blumlein is a talented writer, his experience as a surgeon lends a macabre clinical detachment to his work, and when he's firing on all cylinders he writes with a surgeon's precision. Unfortunately, nearly ever ...more
Meghan Fidler
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
While the violence was a little unpalatable for my tastes, I am extremely pleased that this was passed to me by Daniel. I don't have the book with me- which prohibits my preference with reviews marked by quotes- but this book marks one of the best ways to learn about a person: by sharing literature.
A. Shaskan
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Wordy, over-written.
Daniel Burton-Rose
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Creepy! Brilliant!
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Amazing stories. Really grabbed me
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This definitely conforms to The Weird (occasionally skirting Bizarro), and is recommended for all who wander that territory. So many of these precision-crafted stories focus on identity and belonging. “The Brains of Rats” was a clinically uncomfortable perspective on gender and what must be done to conform and be accepted in society. “Keeping House” was like a bizarro version of Shirley Jackson. “The Wet Suit” was a deeply uncomfortable consideration of our protagonist grieving his father, wonde ...more
Dan Trefethen
The current issue of Locus magazine has an interview with Dr. Michael Blumlein about his fiction. I had never read him before but remember people being impressed about 30 years ago. He had the reputation of writing horror, but in the interview he said he never thought of himself as writing horror, but as a doctor he wrote about the body and body parts with a clinical detachment that some people saw as chilling.

That piqued my curiosity, so I picked up this original fiction collection from 30 or m
I'll admit that I didn't quite get all of the stories in this collection, but even among those stories that eluded me, there was a sense of strength in them that made me pay attention to them, as if to say, "There's something important here, if only you dig to find it." The stories I did get, though, were powerful, with an imagery that will linger for weeks, if not years.

"Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Report" is the story most people know (and for good reason), but they should
Nihal Vrana
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most unique collections I have ever read. As they are madly quirky, they might not be for you; so beware.
For me, two stories stood out, the brains of rats and bestseller are pure genious. I think that what makes Blumlein special is that he focuses on details that everybody else overlooks; so the stories hit you in places you never expect. Also he does not shirk from writing rather politically incorrect and downright awkward things even though being a hospital resident. That ki
Jo Quenell
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting collection, and I wasn't sure how I felt about it when I started reading. The stories seemed to lean towards sci-fi, which is a genre I don't care much for. But Blumlein has a way of overlapping genres that worked well. Not every story impressed me, but the ones that did blew me away. My personal favorite was 'The Wet Suit,' a story that brought with it a sense of quiet dread similar to Brian Evenson, or even Raymond Carver's darker works. This is a good choice for fans o ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I wasn't able to get into this book. Each story was really well written and performed, but it wasn't for me. Maybe I was distracted by the fact that it was an audio book and I could not get into the rhythm of each story. I don't know for sure. My favorite tales were The Promise of Warmth and Bestseller. My least liked were The Brains of Rats and The Wet Suit.

This book was given to me for free at my request for my voluntary and unbiased review.
3 Incredible Masterpieces Included:

1.The Brains of Rats

2.Tissue Regeneration and Various Ablation: A Case Report

Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Weird sci-fi almost horror short stories, interesting topics and grisly scenarios. Spooky house or schizophrenic mother? Sacrifice for the good of your family or justified self harm? Weird, but very entertaining.
Boring, at times shocking. Some novels not really scifi. More than one had to do with dismembering people. You can tell the writer's a doctor. ...more
Jeffrey Canino
The highs left me gobsmacked. Title story, "Tissue Ablation," "Keeping House," "The Thing Itself," and "Bestseller" are all-timers. ...more
Bill Hsu
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Quite a diverse, uneven collection. More comments here:
Nov 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Brains of Rats by Michael Blumlein (1990)
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mediocre short horror stories
rated it really liked it
Aug 09, 2020
Kathe Koja
rated it really liked it
Aug 28, 2017
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