Thoreau’s Microscope in Locus

Thoreau’s Microscope

By Gary K Wolfe
Locus Magazine
September 27th, 2018

Overriding the cynicism, though, is a deep com­passion, and it’s a compassion in evidence in his nonfiction as well. His contribution to the PM Press series of “Outspoken Authors”, Thoreau’s Mi­croscope, includes four of the stories in All I Ever Dreamed (“Paul and Me”, “Your Quantified Self”, “Fidelity”, and “Know How, Can Do”) together with the series’ usual freewheeling interview with Terry Bisson and – perhaps most important – the remarkable title essay, inspired in part by a trip to the High Sierras with Kim Stanley Robinson, Gary Snyder, and a few others, with the goal of naming a mountain after Thoreau. Blumlein considers the role of the observer in wide-ranging terms, from Leeuwenoek’s original microscope, to Thoreau’s role as the archetypal poet-scientist, to the modern imaging techniques that have traced the progress of Blumlein’s own lung cancer. Blumlein’s voice takes on a degree of urgency here, but it only reminds us of the deeply humane urgency that his fiction has always exhibited.

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