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Some Nice Comments on "Sanctuary"

It's nice when you get feedback on a story, and discover that the five or so years you put into crafting it have actually paid off for some of your readers.

Over on the Analog Discussion Board, there's one forum devoted to the September 2005 issue. Most of the discussion has centered around Stan Schmidt's editorial, but are also a few comments on the stories. I have gotten permission to quote the following comments about "Sanctuary" here:

John Thiel:

I like the way he quotes Consalmagno, giving him the recognition he deserves, and I like a good story with religion in it, a very rare theme in science fiction... I haven't finished it, but it's another of those stories that's well worth reading, not just a pasttime.

Jerry Wright:

The lead story "Sanctuary" by Michael Burstein was thoughtful and moving, and sad. I also give him full points for his treatment of the Catholic Church as well as the other religions. A man of conscience can make a mark.

I thanked them both, and replied, "I should also note here the importance of a good editor. Stan Schmidt saw two previous versions of the story, and made a lot of excellent suggestions to me on how to improve it. It would be a far weaker story without his help."


The short answer to your question is yes, although four years might be closer to the mark than five years depending on how you want to count. I first got the idea for "Sanctuary" in 2000 or 2001, and I wrote a first version of the story in 2001. Then I wrote a final draft of the first version. Then I wrote a second, different version of the story, and sent that to Analog. Stan Schmidt gave me suggestions, so I wrote a second draft of that version.

In September 2003 he rejected that with even more suggestions. A year later, I actually got back to the story and fixed it. And now, a year later, it's been published.

As for whether or not this is typical for me, it depends on the story. Some stories, like "Paying It Forward," I write in a month and sell first crack out of the box; others, like "Broken Symmetry," took me years to get right. It all depends.


Four years Huh?

Hi Michael,

I had the same reaction when I had initially read your entry. Four years of work is still impressive. However having read Sancuary I can understand why it might have taken so long.

I read Sanctuary and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It is what broght me to your website. Having read your biography. I realized that I have been a fan for awhile. I remember having enjoyed Pay it Forward also.

Sanctuary was thought provoking and clever. It was obviously well researched I was particurally interested in your brief mention of Aristarchus (1000 years pre-Galileo). I had never heard of him before. I'd be interested in a reference if you have one.

I've actually had a story in me for about 10 years that I've been trying to write, which your story finally inspired me to finish. Did the editors have any concern about your treatment of the Catholic Church?

It plays a major role in my story and I'm afraid that editors will be afraid of it. You are a celebrated author so they will look at all your work. Do you think a religious theme by an unknown would get me put immediately into the rejection bin?

Best wishes,


Mark Annett

Re: Four years Huh?


Thanks for your comments! I'm glad you liked the stories. To respond to a few specific questions:

* I don't recall where I first heard of Aristarchus; probably some Astronomy textbook. If you do a Google search on his name I imagine you'll find some information on him. I did such a search and out popped this page, among others: http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Aristarchus.html

* The editor of Analog didn't have too many concerns about my treatment of the Catholic Church, but he knew I planned to treat religion with respect. Unless your story is an attack on an established religion, a religious theme is unlikely to be the reason why an editor would reject a story.


Re: Four years Huh?

Thanks for the link.

Just out of curiosity, would you consider it an attack or the Catholic Church if memebers of a prohibited secret society of the Catholic Church burned somebody at the stake because they had solved the grand unified theory?

Just curious,


Re: Four years Huh?

I take it that's part of your story?

Given that I'm not Catholic, I'm probably not the best one to judge whether something like that would be disturbing to Catholics. I know that the Catholic Church doesn't like THE DA VINCI CODE, though, so you might use that as your touchstone.


Re: Four years Huh?


I'm just using that as a plot device to be able to talk about the Grand Unified Theory that I have created. The portrail I mentioned above is fairly bleak but in my story it is much more sypathetic.

If you didn't reject the bleak portrail then I should be okay with the more sympathetic one. ;)



December 2016

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