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Feb. 27th, 2015

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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

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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.

Feb. 10th, 2015

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Pangaea – The Anthology

A few days ago, a Kickstarter project launched that I'm proud to be a part of. Author and editor Michael Jan Friedman came up with the idea of an alternate version of Earth in which the Pangaea supercontinent never broke up, and invited a bunch of writers to contribute stories to this world. I found myself intrigued by the notion and signed up immediately.

I'm delighted to be a part of this anthology. I'm in the company of many worthy writers, including Adam-Troy Castro, Russ Colchamiro, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Paul Kupperberg, Kelly Meding, Aaron Rosenberg, Lawrence M. Schoen, Geoffrey Thorne, Dayton Ward, and Kevin Dilmore.

Allow me to give you more details about the project. First let me quote directly from the Pangaea webpage and then I'll tell you a little bit about my own story further on - and the pledge rewards I've personally offered.

First the description:





At least four times in Earth’s history, the continents have come sliding together. Over millions of years, separate and distinct landmasses have crawled across the planet's surface on immense tectonic plates to form a single mass--a super-continent. Geologists have dubbed the most recent such formation Pangaea.

Of course, Pangaea broke up a long time ago, and because it did, mankind developed in drastically different climes and circumstances. But what if we twenty-first century types were living in one of the super-continental periods--those characterized by “lid tectonics” rather than “plate tectonics?” What would it be like if all of humanity was confined to a single landmass...and had been so confined for all of our recorded history?

That's the ever-so-tantalizing axis on which our Pangaea anthology turns.

It's an exciting and original idea, one that deserves the best world-building talent available. So to explore this world on your behalf, we've harnessed the word-smithing abilities of some of science fiction's most inventive writers.





Now, as to my story.

I can't give away too much, but I'm writing a story with the current working title "Beliefs and Challenges." It's actually a love story about two teenagers in an agrarian part of the world, and how world events affect their relationship and their religious beliefs, and finally leads one of the two to make a major, life-altering decision. As this is a shared-world anthology, my hope is that the other writers will decide to bring my characters into their own stories, like the writers who contributed to the Thieves' World stories or the Wild Card stories.

There are many levels at which you can pledge to support this project. For only $8 you can get the ebook. For $25 you can get a signed trade paperback as well. Or if you have $100 to contribute, you can be Tuckerized in my story, meaning that I will name one of my story's characters after you (as best as I can, given that this is an alternate world and our names will not be spelled the same way).

So please follow the link, take a look, and if you're so inclined, make a pledge to support Pangaea.

Thank you for reading.

Jan. 29th, 2015

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"I Remember the Future" Eligible for the Hugo

Since a few people have asked and since there's room for confusion:

The KAS Creations film of "I Remember the Future" is in fact eligible to be nominated for the Hugo Award this year in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category. That is because the film festival showings that began in 2014 started the clock, and so it can be nominated in the Hugos for 2015.

Oddly, though, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has different rules for the Bradbury Award. They have ruled that it is not eligible for nomination until it gets a wider release. So if you're a member of SFWA, don't bother considering it for the Bradbury, but don't let that ruling affect how you fill out your Hugo ballot.

If you are a member of last year's, this year's, or next year's Worldcon, you are eligible to fill out a nominating ballot for the Hugos. As it so happens, tomorrow is the deadline to join this year's Worldcon in time to nominate for the Hugos, although the nominating deadline is in March. If you want to join Worldcon, visit https://sasquan.swoc.us/sasquan/reg.php. You can join online; current cost for a Supporting Membership is US$40. (It is likely that besides all Worldcon publications, this year's members will receive a packet of Hugo-nominated ebooks and other works once the ballot is set, well worth the cost of the membership.)

If you want to know more about the film "I Remember the Future," visit http://irtf.kascreations.com.au.

Nov. 27th, 2014

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Giving Thanks

Giving thanks publicly for the things for which I am truly grateful always makes me feel a little self-conscious. I become overly aware of the blessings I have that others do not, and I wonder if I should be more sensitive to the friends who don't necessarily have the same things I do.

But then I realize that we all have things for which we are grateful, and it is good for me to pause and reflect on my blessings. So, for Thanksgiving Day 2014, a short list.

I am thankful for how my parents raised me, giving me opportunities in life that have allowed to me to work toward my potential.

I am thankful for the education I received, both formal and informal.

I am thankful for the many years I taught and was able to work with and influence students. I feel an odd paternal pride when I read about their accomplishments, and I am grateful that they choose to stay in touch.

I am thankful for the writing career I have had up until this point, and I hope that I manage to continue to write stories soon that entertain people and make them think.

I am thankful that I am reasonably healthy and employed.

Most of all, I am thankful for my family, particularly for my wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters, who have brought so much joy to my life.

Nov. 21st, 2014

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The Brookline Parent: Night Terrors

My latest column for The Brookline Parent is on dealing with Night Terrors. Not exactly a column to enjoy, but I think some folks will find it of interest.

Oct. 13th, 2014

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I Remember the Future Film - Baltimore Science Fiction Society - November 15, 2014

Great news for folks in the Baltimore, Maryland, USA area who are interested in seeing the "I Remember the Future" film! By special arrangement with KAS Creations, it will be screened at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in November.


Details:
Saturday, November 15, 2014, at 7 pm
3310 E Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21224
Preceded by coming attractions and Balticon film festival items of interest.
Snacks and beverages. BYOB.


For more information, call (410) 563-2737


I'd like to thank KAS Creations for making this special screening available for fans in the Baltimore area.


Official trailer http://vimeo.com/84752786
Interview on File 770  http://file770.com/?p=16563

Sep. 11th, 2014

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9/11: Thirteen Years Ago — Personal Reflections

Exactly thirteen 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. 15th, 2014

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My Week in Facebook, August 10-15, 2014

Let's go through the week! Here are links.

On Sunday, the family attended the Boston Comic Con. We had a blast. I posted a photo album called Boston Comic Con 2014. It includes pictures of Squeaker posing with cosplayers, me and the kids emerging from a TARDIS, me meeting some of my favorite comic creators, and more. Go on and take a look.

We also got a TARDIS and Dalek salt and pepper shaker set.

On Monday night came the news of the death of Robin Williams, and I posted something I call Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society, and My Teaching on Facebook. I decided to post it on LiveJournal as well, and for what it's worth, I got a lot of response to it on Facebook and none (as of this writing) on LJ. Moving on...

Tuesday I linked to a post by David Mack on the need for diversity in science fiction. Here's his post on LJ, as infinitydog.

I also reminded people about the Kickstarter for Chronosphere. Come on, folks, I want to play this game!

And I took these pictures and posted them: Robin Williams Bench, Boston Public Garden, 2014-08-12.

Wednesday night we showed the kids the move Aladdin.

Thursday I ate lunch.

And today I posted a link to our new The Brookline Parent column, Adventuring Through Comic Con. But if you keep up with my LiveJournal, you already know that...




Aug. 14th, 2014

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This Day in History, 2003: The Great Northeast Blackout

Eleven years ago today was the Great Blackout of 2003, which hit much of the northeast United States and parts of Canada. Where were you?

I was at home (in Brookline, Massachusetts, which did not lose power) on the computer when the phone rang at 4:33 PM. It was my younger brother, Josh, in New York City, calling to ask me if I knew what was going on. As I had left the TV news on in the living room, and the TiVo was recording its buffer, I was able to start describing the news to him and I learned of the blackout as I told him what was going on.

I served as the point person for my younger brother, my sister-in-law, and my mother for the next few hours. Josh had to sleep overnight in Manhattan. Rachel had to care for their new baby daughter, and I gave her information on New York City emergency lines and hospitals. And Mom stayed home.

I recorded NBC Nightly News that evening and the Today show the next day, and a few months later I gave the VHS tape to Josh so he could see what he missed.

As I mentioned above, Massachusetts (and pretty much most of New England) didn't lose power. After one of the major blackouts a few decades before, the people in charge in New England had decided to set up a series of switches that could be opened should there be a power surge that might lead to a shutdown. Thanks to their foresight, I was able to help out my family as I described.

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