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The Roberts: 07/27/08
Michael Blumlein has had a number of his stories published in Fantasy & Science Fiction but I'm still a relatively new subscriber. "The Roberts" by Blumlein is the cover story of the July 2008 issue.
"The Roberts" reminds me of a mixture of The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold and Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House with a little Philip K. Dick (take your pick) thrown in for good measure.
Robert, the original one, is an architect. He finds his calling working with a new material called Pakki-flex and he has trouble balancing love and work. When a relationship with his human girl friend fizzles, he opts for a man made woman crafted to be someone he can love; who will love him, inspire him and won't be hurt by him.
In Robert's love life, he's still not finding the time to spend with Grace even though he does love her and she does inspire him. In his work life, the Pakki-flex material didn't turn out to be the great new thing everyone hoped it would be. At home he's competing with himself as he and Grace have both created duplicate Roberts to ease his burdens. Somehow all of these troubles come together and inspire Robert to his greatest architectural masterpiece and at last true happiness with Grace.
"The Roberts" is a strange and beautiful story. It's set against the excesses of life in southern California. I think it extrapolates well from present day much as the way that Dick's novels often describe a near future Bay Area.