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Nov. 19th, 2015


I Remember the Future Film - Now on Vimeo!

Ladies and gentlemen:

It is my pleasure to inform you all that the KAS Creations Film & Media adaptation of my short story "I Remember the Future" is now available to view on Vimeo's Video on Demand. Click on the title to be taken to the film.

The film is eligible to be nominated for the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, and (if you're a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) for the 2016 Bradbury Award. (Nominations have already opened for the Bradbury.)

The film is NOT free to view. You can rent it for $2.99 and watch it within 24 hours, or you can pay $4.99 and purchase the film, which would allow you to download it and/or stream it anytime.

I'd like to thank the filmmaker, Klayton Aaron Stainer, for making the film available in this way, thus ensuring its eligibility for the Bradbury Award and a better chance at a Hugo nomination.

Nov. 2nd, 2015


Joel David Burstein (December 11, 1929 - November 2, 1990)

Twenty-five years ago today, my father died.

It feels odd acknowledging this anniversary today, because time has worn away at the emotional pain and shock I experienced the night my father died. Fifteen years ago, on the tenth anniversary of Dad's passing, my family took out an In Memoriam ad in the New York Times, which Mom appreciated. Today, Mom is also gone, and in a way posting here is much more of an acknowledgement of this momentous anniversary than taking out an ad in a newspaper.

I tend to think Dad was a fascinating person. He was born in December 1929, in the wake of the stock market collapse, and so grew up during the Depression, which affected his outlook for the rest of his life. When he was almost ten years old, he attended the 1939 New York City World's Fair, and fell in love with the visions of the future it presented. He graduated as valedictorian of DeWitt Clinton High School (which was in Manhattan at the time, I think) and started college at Columbia, where he was editor of the college newspaper, The Spectator.

But while he was in his teenage years and World War II was raging, news of the Holocaust came to the United States. My grandfather was a rabbi, and my Dad grew up in a religious household; but the Holocaust caused him to lose his faith in God and to break away from religion.

On the other hand, he felt a strong connection to the Jewish people. In the 1940s he ran guns to the nascent Jewish state of Israel, and then he dropped out of college, never finishing, in order to smuggle himself into Israel and fight in the 1948 War for Independence.

Dad was dedicated to journalism and newspapers. He used to like to quote Thomas Jefferson, who once said that he would rather have newspapers without government than government without newspapers. Dad spent his life working at a whole variety of newspapers in New York City. In the midst of all this, he married his first wife, Evelyn, and had two sons, my half-brothers David and Daniel. Eventually, Dad and Evelyn divorced. He met my mother Eleanor, married her, and had three more sons: Jonathan, Michael, and Joshua.

By the time I knew him, Dad had been working at the New York Daily News for many years. In 1990, the Daily News unions were locked out and so once again went on strike against the owner of the paper, the Chicago Tribune Company. Dad was in the Newspaper Guild union office twenty years ago when he collapsed of a heart attack and was pronounced dead at St. Claire's Hospital. My brothers and I were in the Boston area at the time -- Jon in medical school, Josh and me in college. Jon and Josh were on a train home already because my father's mother had just died the day before, and they were going to NYC to be with my Dad for her funeral. We had no way of knowing that on Sunday, November 4, we would attend one funeral after another, with print and TV reporters gathered with our friends and family, the media there to report on my father's death as another tragic story.

My father was a strong believer in justice, in supporting the powerless against the powerful. Two months before he died, I marched with him in the NYC Labor Day Parade. The Greyhound bus drivers were on strike, and Dad – who always kept an eye on family finances – donated money to their fund without blinking. After he died, I found among his personal papers articles he had clipped about a Mohawk tribe in upstate New York struggling to get a piece of land back from the federal government. Dad always shared stories like that with us, to remind us that the fight for justice was a neverending battle.

Dad had been a reader of science fiction and comic books when he was growing up; by the time I knew him, he mostly read mysteries. But he inculcated in me a love of science fiction, and my one regret about my own writing is that he never got to read it. But his spirit infuses every word I write.

Oct. 21st, 2015


Back to the Future Day - October 21, 2015

Today, for Back to the Future Day, I am... well, it's a regular Wednesday for me. I have to get the kids to school, work, and run errands. And tonight there's a Brookline Reads event at the library.

But somewhere in there I plan to invent time travel. So there's that.

Sep. 11th, 2015


9/11 Fourteen Years Ago - Personal Reflections

Exactly fourteen years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States of America. They flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. They most likely would also have flown a plane into the Capitol building but were stopped by the passengers of United 93. Almost 3,000 people died that day.

Because I'm obsessed with exactness, I've made sure for a while now to know the exact times of certain events that took place on 9/11. The bare sequence of events at the World Trade Center was as follows:

8:46:26 AM: North Tower Hit
9:02:54 AM: South Tower Hit
9:59:04 AM: South Tower Collapsed
10:28:31 AM: North Tower Collapsed

I'm a New York City native, born and raised in Queens, and I grew up in a city in which the Towers always stood. On 9/11, I was a teacher at a private school in Newton, Massachusetts. The following comes from my journal, a hand-written one that I was keeping at the time.

"The second [staff] meeting ended early, and I went back to the Science lab to check my e-mail. I idly noted a message...which said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

"I didn't really think much of it and I went back to the Information Center. Shortly after the meeting...began, [a colleague] walked in and asked if we had heard the news. He told us that two planes had hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and he set up the small TV to receive CNN. They showed pictures of two commercial jets crashing into the twin towers...

"I ran to the phone...to call [my younger brother] at work. At 9:35 AM I called and got him. He had just gotten in, and he said that he seen the smoke from the 7 train. I told him to stay in touch, but due to circuits being busy, I wasn't able to reach New York City again for a while.

"The rest of the day passed in a blur of rumors and news. I kept checking webpages; when I couldn't reach cnn.com, checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. [I had called Nomi, and she had suggested the second-tier news sites.]

"At 10:15 AM, the...students returned from their physical education class...and...we told them the news...

"When the meeting with the students ended, I collapsed in tears..."

There's more, of course, but to summarize, I spent the day trying to get news of family and friends, making sure they were all safe. The drive home was surreal, knowing that fighter planes and battleships were protecting New York City. Nomi was already home, as her office had sent everyone home early. The rest of my family was safe, but my older brother, an emergency medicine physician, had been called up to report to New York City. Nomi and I took a walk at 5:30 PM, which included browsing at Brookline Booksmith and getting ice cream at JP Licks. Everything on TV was the news; we watched C-SPAN, which was running a feed from the CBC, so we could get the Canadian perspective.

The next few days, the events were fresh in everyone's mind. On Wednesday, I flinched at hearing an airplane in the sky, then remembered that all commercial flights had been grounded, so it had to be one of our military aircraft, protecting us. I bought my regular comic books that day; Adventures of Superman #596 had an eerie panel of the twin towers of Metropolis being repaired. A friend came over that evening after attending a local religious service.

On Thursday, Nomi and I were sick of the news, and Animal Planet had gone back to regular programming. We watched a documentary about moose to help us get our minds off things.

And life went on. Today, I'm no longer teaching, but editing science curricular materials in Boston; my younger brother no longer lives in New York City, but in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and three children; and my older brother is still an emergency medicine physician in the Boston area, specializing in disaster management.

And as all my friends know, there have been other changes in my life. In 2007 I lost my mom. In 2008 I published a book collection of many of my short stories. And in 2009, Nomi and I welcomed two precious and adorable girls into our lives. Being a parent changes your perspective on a lot of things, and 9/11 is no exception. When the attacks happened, I was worried for my mom and my brothers; if something were to happen today, my first priority would be to make sure that my children were safe.

I probably don't need to tell anyone this, but today's a very good day to remind your loved ones, families, and friends how much they mean to you.

Aug. 21st, 2015


"I Remember the Future" Hugo Eligibility Extension Passed

I am delighted to announce that the Sasquan the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention Business Meeting voted to extend the Hugo eligibility for the KAS Creations film "I Remember the Future" for one more year. Thanks to Chris Barkley who spoke in favor and everyone else who voted to support the extension. (The category, as I'm sure I'll be reminding people again, is Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.)

If you're on site at Worldcon, the film is being shown TONIGHT at 7 pm local time. Enjoy.

Jul. 27th, 2015


Today's #MBTA Inspired Poem

The Green Line
Announced a service issue
Power was out
Due to an issue with an Outbound train
And we were advised to take the Orange Line
But no person came to tell us
No one made it clear
That the message applied to those of us
On the Inbound platform as well.
Finally, I walked.

Copyright 2015 Michael A. Burstein

Jun. 15th, 2015


General Slocum Tragedy 111th Anniversary

Today is the 111th anniversary of the General Slocum fire, the worst one-day disaster in New York City before 9/11. For some reason, not many people learn about it when they study history. (On a personal note, it's the central event of my novella "Time Ablaze," which was nominated for the Hugo Award.)

Historian Ed O'Donnell, author of the book SHIP ABLAZE, has said this about the tragedy:

"Ask any New Yorker to name the city’s greatest disaster before September 11, 2001 and invariably they offer the same answer: the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911. That tragic event garnered international headlines as 146 young immigrant women lost their lives in an unsafe garment factory. Yet even though it is certainly Gotham’s most famous disaster, it runs a distant second to a much larger catastrophe which occurred only seven years earlier. On June 15, 1904, more than 1,000 people died when their steamship, the General Slocum, burst into flames while moving up the East River. It was the second-most deadly fire (after the Peshtigo fire of 1871) and most deadly peacetime maritime disaster in American history."

For more information about the tragedy, see the Wikipedia entry on the General Slocum.

Apr. 20th, 2015


Extending the Hugo Eligibility for I Remember the Future

As many of you should already be aware, in 2014 a short film of my story "I Remember the Future" was released and shown at a handful of film festivals. The film has won a few awards, and I suspect that many folks (beyond myself) would like the opportunity to consider it for the Hugo Award. Alas, due presumably in part to its limited release (and possible other factors) it did not make it onto the Hugo ballot in 2015. However, Wordcon does allow for a work's elegibility to be extended should the Business Meeting pass a motion to that effect.

Although I will not be present at Sasquan, the Business Meeting will be considering the motion below. I'd like to be able to show that the motion has support by listing members who are willing to sign onto this proposal. If you would like to see the film given a second chance at earning a Hugo nomination and you are a member of Worldcon who is willing to have your name attached to this motion, please let me know and I will add your name. And if you plan to attend Sasquan, if all goes according to plan, you'll have the chance to screen the film there.

You can find out more about the film and watch the trailer here:

I Remember the Future (KAS Creations)


Short Title: I Remember the Future

Moved, to extend the Hugo eligibility for the movie “I Remember the Future” due to extremely limited distribution, as provided for in Section 3.4.3 of the WSFS Constitution.

Proposed by:

[list of names here]

This motion extends eligibility for the Hugo Award and requires a 2/3 vote.


The film “I Remember the Future” (KAS Creations) is a short student film that was directed by Klayton Stainer, an Australian filmmaker. It premiered at the 2014 Worldfest-Houston on April 6, 2014, and in the rest of the calendar year it was screened at only two other venues: the San Jose Short Film Festival (October 12, 2014) and a special meeting of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (November 15, 2014). Because of its limited release, very few members of Sasquan were actually able to screen the film before the deadline for nominating in the 2015 Hugo Awards. The film won a Grand Remi Award at Worldfest-Houston and has received other accolades since, which serve as testimony to the idea that the film would actually be worthy to be considered for a Hugo nomination.

In 2015, the film was screened at three science-fiction conventions (Arisia, Boskone, and Minicon) and more film festivals, thus giving it more exposure.

Furthermore, as of this writing the film has been submitted to Sasquan for the media program. We would like to give this film the chance it deserves to be considered by the members of MidAmericon II for the Hugo in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

Disclosure: The initial proponent of this motion is the writer whose Nebula-nominated short story served as the basis for this film.

Feb. 27th, 2015


Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

For the rest of my life, I will be reminded that Leonard Nimoy died as I was celebrating my birthday.

Condolences to his loved ones.

Feb. 23rd, 2015


Pangaea - Halfway There!

Today, over at the Pangaea Kickstarter, Michael Jan Friedman puts the spotlight on me:

Michael A. Burstein has spent much of the last several weeks digging his family out from blizzard after blizzard in Brookline, Massachusetts. However, he promises to emerge from winter’s frigid grasp in time to make his contribution to our Pangaea anthology.

For our readers, that’s a good thing.

Michael is one of the most compelling voices in science fiction. In 1997, he won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Since then, he has earned four Nebula nominations and no less than ten Hugo nominations for his short fiction. A short film based on Michael’s story I Remember The Future recently took top honors at an independent film festival…

And although we're halfway to our goal, my two Tuckerizations are still up for grabs! If you have $100 to pledge, I will name one of my story's characters afer you (as best as I can, given that this is an alternate world and our names will not be spelled the same way).

What's Pangaea about? Here's what I said two weeks ago.

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