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I'm a Character in an Iron Man Novel

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Tuckerization is the term given to the act of naming a character in a work of fiction for a real person. It was named for writer Wilson Tucker, who did it often. I've Tuckerized people in some of my own stories; in fact, I offered two Tuckerizations in a raffle for when I Remember the Future was being pre-ordered, and both of the winners had their names (or names of their choosing) appear in the book.

Ten years ago, I answered some questions for Robert J. Sawyer as he was writing the novel Flashforward, which has now become a TV series on ABC. Rob mentioned me in the acknowledgments and gave me a minor Tuckerization on page 150, under the assumed name of Michael Burr, a name that James Patrick Kelly had used when he Tuckerized me in "Think Like a Dinosaur."

And yesterday, I picked up the novel Iron Man: Femme Fatales by Robert Greenberger, and found out on page 58 what I'd be doing with my life if I lived in the Marvel Universe; apparently, I'd be working for Stark Industries:

"Michael, it's good to see you," Stark said enthusiastically as he rose. Rounding the desk, he accepted the new mug in his left hand while shaking Burstein's hand with his right.

"Good to see you, too, sir," Burstein said in a soft voice. He was in his mid-thirties, slightly overweight, and prematurely balding, and he wore a colorful yarmukle pinned to his thinning hair. His clothes never seemed to fit right, nor did he ever wear a tie – an affectation Stark allowed. After all, comfortable people were productive people.

I was delighted to be surprised by this Tuckerization for a few reasons, beyond the enjoyable egoboo. For one thing, I could see myself in that position. For another, years ago there was a scientist in the Marvel universe named Noah Burstein, so maybe we're related. For a third thing, Bob has done a good job of interweaving diversity in his character cast throughout the novel, and the offhand mention of the yarmulke just adds one more tiny note in showing that humanity isn't monolithic.

(And for those of you who would point out that technically this isn't a Tuckerization, since the character does appear to be me, albeit an alternate version of me, well, you're right too.)

Bob, thank you. I can't wait to find out what happens to my alter ego. Hopefully, I won't get killed by Hydra.


That's very cool. :-)

I remember I geeked when I saw my last name in one of Jack Chalker's Rings of the Masters novels. Only because it's an unusual last name.
What's your job at Stark Industries?
Apparently, I head a whole division.

Also, my wife knits (page 60).
Seems as much a Tuckerization of you as my appearance in "TelePresence."

My favorite alter ego/Tuckerization story is when David Weber auctioned off a Tuckerization for charity; marykayekare bought it for Jordin. Supposed to be a walk-on, but, as Weber started writing the book, he realized that he actually needed a space propulsion scientist for the plot; Jordin got a much larger role than expected.

Of course, the trouble with this is that Mary Kaye is a character in the Callahan's Bar universe, which means that they actually live in different fictional universes. I asked them once if this made things difficult; they said that this was one of the reasons they went to so many cons, since they are convenient places for fictional characters to hang out together.
So when that happens does the book not have the "similarity to person living or dead is purely a coincidence" disclaimer?
I've always thought that was a silly disclaimer. Doesn't every book have characters with some similarity to persons living or dead? I mean, do they think writers pull their characters out of an self-contained, uninfluenced pool of creative plasma?
In all honesty, I can't remember seeing that disclaimer on any work of genre fiction -- fantasy, science fiction, mystery, or romance -- that I've read. Come to think of it, I think I've only seen it very rarely on written fiction at all -- it's a disclaimer I more associate with film.


I saw the standard disclaimer on the anthology "Alternate Kennedys" where the whole point of the book is that every story was about a different Kennedy.
I've seen that disclaimer even when books have had characters similar to persons living or dead.

One of the most interesting versions of that disclaimer appears in Erich Segal's novel The Class. An opening note indicates that the scenes involving famous people are purely the product of the author's mind.
Both I and an ex- have been Tuckerized as Starfleet Admirals, although they've never encountered each other in print. I figure it probably makes for the occasional interesting staff meeting though.
Didn't Jordin show up in Callahan's eventually?
No idea -- ask him. He'd probably know.
Congrats! I think close Tuckerizations count at -least- as much as inclusions that are name-only.
Yeah, well... :-)
Very cool!
I've been a Star Fleet admiral a time or two as well, but that's hardly surprising.

Kudos to you for getting a job at Stark Industries. I hear they have a great benefits package, and will provide matching contributions to your children's college funds.
I'm actually a Starfleet engineer in one of Jerry Oltion's novels, under the name Michael "Burnie" Burnstein.
Oh, very cool!

(Does the real you wear colorful kippot? I've never noticed.)
Bob was probably envisioning the colorful kippah I wear to conventions, a gift many years ago from vettecat. The kippah has a spaceship design. (In fact, the way my character dresses is the way I usually dress at conventions.)

On a daily basis, I usually wear a basic black kippah.
Tres cool!
How very cool! Congratulations...
I am most entertained. :) Of course, now I also want Nomi and the twins to appear. :)
Last time I was in an Iron Man novel, I got killed by AIM, which may or may not be a subdivision of HYDRA. So you're right to be concerned.
I still have a copy of that short story you Tuckerized me in, in a safe place on my hard drive. I still wonder how one makes Crump pudding; maybe one day I'll figure it out.
I still never managed to place that story...

December 2016

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