Nomi and Michael A. Burstein (photo by Ari Baronofsky)
Nomi and Michael A. Burstein (photo by Ari Baronofsky)
 
When it comes to making a selection for our Book of the Month Club discussions, I like to take several things into consideration: recommendations, reviews, an intriguing premise, and, of course, whether or not the author is a Stargate fan. Well, when I learned that author Michael A. Burstein was an avid follower of the Stargate franchise, I was delighted to pick his book, I Remember the Future, for a May discussion. Michael is not only an established SF writer and fan of the show, but a blog regular as well and so it gives me great pleasure to turn today’s entry over to him.
 
 Before I get into the questions, I just want to thank Joseph Mallozzi for inviting me to participate in the book club, and thank everyone who took the time to read the book and comment on it.  If you’re interested in learning more about me and my work, I maintain a website at http://www.mabfan.com and a blog at http://mabfan.livejournal.com.  (I also have a website devoted to the book I Remember the Future at http://www.bursteinbooks.com.)

I do plan on sticking around here as well, at least until the new season of television starts, when I’ll be too busy watching Stargate Universe. 🙂

Finally, I know a lot of you had fascinating comments to make that I would love to respond to, if I had the time.  But then I’d never get around to writing something new.  So I’ll just stick with the direct questions that our host has sent my way.

Your questions, my answers:

Sylvia writes: “I don’t have a question but wondering if you would be able to share more thoughts on the story, I remember the future. The statement, “I remember the future and the future remembered me” resonated with me – and I am not able to really describe why I found that statement moving.

Thank you Mr. Burstein for a great read and joining Mr. M’s blog. It is delightful to see you posting from time to time.”

Michael: “I Remember the Future” was one of those stories that took me a long time to figure out, but once I had an idea of what the story had to be about, I knew exactly where to go with it.  There isn’t much more I can say about it that I didn’t already cover in the afterword. I am glad that the final statement resonated with you.  And I could hazard a guess as to why you found it moving.  I think it’s because it reminds us that we have roots not just in the past but in the future as well, a concept I first learned from the books of Spider Robinson.

As for my posting in Joseph Mallozzi’s blog, I actually browsed this blog before, but tended mostly to lurk.  But as I noted above, I plan to stick around for a while. I came for the Stargate, but I’m staying for the snark.

StellarGate writes: “Thanks for a great recommendation. I have some questions for the author –

1. You’ve been compared to some might celebrated scifi authors. Which of these authors influenced you as a writer? Judging from the afterword to Cosmic Corkscrew, I’m guessing Asimov was one?

2. What made you decide to pursue writing? How long did it take you to make your first sale and was there any point a which you thought of giving up or were you determined to make that sale?

3. So far, you have a good amount of short stories under your belt. Have you given any thought to maybe some day writing a novel.

4. Finally, what part does your wife play in the writing process? Throughout the book, you mention the fact that your wife reads your stuff and offers her opinions. Does she function as your editor or is she more an unbiased sounding board more representative of the general reading public?

Thanks for taking my questions.

Michael: 1. Isaac Asimov was beyond a doubt the writer who influenced me the most.  I actually was lucky enough to meet him a few times and to have something of a personal relationship with him; if you want more details, you can read the article I wrote published by the fanzine Mimosa called “Asimov and Me” (http://www.jophan.org/mimosa/m21/burstein.htm).

Oddly enough, I’ve never been as into the writing of Arthur C. Clarke as I was into the writing of Isaac Asimov.  Asimov himself used to say that people who liked his writing tended to like Clarke’s and vice-versa.  In my case, though, while I found some of Clarke’s stories to be quite powerful (such as “The Star”), I never collected his books the way I did Asimov’s.

Robert A. Heinlein was also a major influence, though I came to his work later than many.  And Spider Robinson’s books, especially the ones about Callahan’s saloon, made a deep impression on me.

But you know what else influenced me?  Star Trek. Star Wars. Superman.  I grew up watching Star Trek in reruns, and Star Wars came out when I was a kid.  Furthermore, as far back as I can remember, I read the DC Comics superhero stories; in fact, I still have my childhood comic book collection in storage, because I have a very understanding wife.

2. I’m not quite sure what made me choose to pursue writing, but I know I was interested in writing from a very young age.  I remember creating my own scroll of mythological stories at the age of five or six, so obviously I enjoyed writing even then.  (Or maybe I just enjoyed taping pieces of paper together to make scrolls.)

As for the rest of the question; see my response below to SciFi Reader, who asked a similar question.

3. In truth, I’ve written two science fiction novels that have made the rounds of the publishers, but no editor has yet chosen to buy them.  Perhaps I still need to improve my novel writing skills, as I’ve always naturally been drawn to the short form.

4. With rare exceptions, every piece of my writing that goes out the door is reviewed by Nomi first.  I’m very fortunate to be married to a fellow writer and editor, and as an editor myself I know that it is difficult to be a good judge of one’s own work.

In the beginning, Nomi did look at my stories but I didn’t always listen to her advice.  Then, as I relate in the afterword to “Broken Symmetry,” Stanley Schmidt, the editor of Analog, advised me to listen to Nomi after he found out from us that her suggestions had vastly improved the original draft of the story.  So Nomi now cheerfully (well, most of the time) serves as a sounding board and as a first editor for all my fiction and much of my non-fiction.  In fact, I ran this blog post past her before sending it to Joseph Mallozzi for posting.

Thornyrose writes: “With Spaceships, we’re given a slightly melencholy view of immortality. ( Can one say Ascension?). It seems even in the far future, eccentricity is frowned upon, and Kel is victimized by those who are not actually harmed by his peculiar obsession. I did have a minor quibble here; how did Kel get possession of the actual originals? Surely most had long since been destroyed before he reached his near-omnipotent level of development.”

Michael: “Ascension, eh?  I think the theme of human beings transcending themselves has been around in SF a while before Stargate used that term; in fact, didn’t Star Trek do it first?  (That’s for Joe; I’m sure he appreciates hearing it.)  The main reason eccentricity is frowned upon in the future of “Spaceships” is because in a way, humanity has become one overall hive mind.  Anyone who doesn’t want to be a part of that would seem odd to the mainstream.

As to how Kel got possession of the original spaceships, the way I see it, many spaceships had been destroyed over the millennia, but many others had been left behind.  Humanity didn’t have a need to destroy them at first; it’s only much later on, closer to the time of the story, that humanity became actively interested in removing these last vestiges of their mortality.

Think of it this way. The first ascended beings had other concerns than destroying the spaceships.  They were simply irrelevant, like the shed skin left behind by a snake.  So there was no compelling reason to destroy them, until they discovered Kel’s eccentricity.

Lt. Dominick writes: “Another reason to draw comparisons between this book and the novels of greats like Clarke and Asimov is the thought-provoking nature of all these works. A lot of contemporary science fiction shows off intellect but lacks heart, and I think that’s what Burstein has in spades. His stories challenge the reader on a moral AND intellectual level, something many modern science fiction readers fail to do, but which authors like Clarke and Asimov did on a regular basis. Which brings me to my questions for Mr. Burstein: You obviously have great admiration for classic science fiction, but which contemporary genre writers do you enjoy reading?”

Michael: I’m always wary of making a list like this, because I know I’ll forget someone, but…

Contemporary science-fiction writers I enjoy reading today include Robert J. Sawyer, Paul Levinson, Jack McDevitt, Catherine Asaro, and Jennifer Pelland.

I try not to miss the newer writers as well, so I subscribe to the big three magazines (Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF) and try to keep up with the other short fiction being published.

I’m also interested in other types of fiction; I’m a fan of the mystery novels of Lawrence Block and William G. Tapply, to name two.

And I would be remiss if I failed to mention Robert Masello, an underrated writer who has worked in magazines, television, and prose.  He just had a new novel come out, Blood and Ice, that I highly recommend if you like thrillers.

Sparrow_hawk writes: “My one question for Michael Burstein is from Spaceships: Was Ria named for your favorite classic sci-fi authors: (R)obert Heinlein, (I)saac Asimov and (A)rthur Clarke? If so, who is Kel named for?”

Michael: Wow!  That’s not something I did deliberately. If I recall correctly, Ria came from wanting to use the name Rita.  As for Kel, I know I wanted the name, but for the life of me I can’t recall where it came from.  I think there was something in the phrase “Kel-Ria” that resonated for me.  Anyone reading this have any clue?  Let me know.

Thornyrose writes: “A couple of questions to Mr. Burnstein, if it’s not too late. First, have you considered doing a sequel to Empty Spaces? I’d love to see the long term consequences to the “solution” used to stabalize the gate. What do you find most challenging, and/or most enjoyable to write? Short story, novella, novels? And have you considered stepping out of the sci fi genre to write? I recall Isaac Asimov was a member of the Baker Street Irregulars. Have you followed in his footsteps there? And I’d like to thank you for participating in Mr. M’s blog, as well as having the outstanding taste of being an Asimov fan.”

Michael: My files actually include notes on how I would continue the “Broken Symmetry” sequence beyond “Empty Spaces.”  Years ago, I attempted to turn “Broken Symmetry” into a novel, and so I took the three stories that I had written, outlined the rest of the book, and tried to sell the novel.  Eventually, I retired it, but when it came time to publish the book “I Remember the Future” I decided to turn part four of the novel into “Empty Spaces.”  At this stage in my life, I’d probably only actually write the fifth story if I knew in advance that some market would pay for it.

That may sound sad, or overly mercenary, but the fact is that any writer’s time is limited, and all writers have to prioritize their projects.  I remember reading in Piers Anthony’s autobiography his claim that some of his best novels had never been written.  You see, once a writer gets to be an established novelist, he or she can sell a book to a publisher based solely on a proposal or outline for a novel.  After Anthony became a bestselling novelist, that’s how he would work.  So he would send his publisher outlines for three or four possible novels, and the publisher would send him a contract for the one that sounded best to them.  Consequently, Anthony has some outlines for novels that he’s never written.

I think all writers have files of ideas we’ve never turned into final stories.  In my own case, as much as I still love the “Broken Symmetry” stories, I’ve moved onto other challenges.  So I doubt a sequel to “Empty Spaces” will ever be published at this point.  Sorry about that.

I find novels the most challenging to write, but this is not to say that short stories are easy.  I think all writing, good writing, takes a lot of effort on the part of the writer.  At the moment, the length I think I’m enjoying most are the novelette and novella.  They give you more room to develop your world than a short story, but they’re not as daunting as a novel.

I’m considering writing some straight mysteries; in fact, I just made a point of joining MWA so I could have more contact with established mystery writers.  I have not joined the Baker Street Irregulars, but not for lack of interest; I’ve just never gotten around to it.  I’ve re-read the Sherlock Holmes stories dozens of times.

And you’re welcome for my participation in Joe’s blog; here, I’m just a fan like the rest of us.  (And may I complement you on being an Asimov fan as well.)

SciFiReader writes: “Hello to Michael A. Burstein. I really enjoyed I Remember the Future for what has already been discussed, the intelligent and thought-provoking ideas and the class science fiction concepts that you have placed in a theoretical “science fact” frame. Congratulations on all of the nominations and like Joe says I am sure it is only a matter of time before you win the big awards.

Now some questions if I may. I would like to know about how yout got started. What made you decide to take up writing. How did you go about trying to get published? How many rejections did you get and why did you keep on going despite them?”

Michael: How I got started… I’m going to paraphrase from an interview I gave a few years ago to the Reflection’s Edge webzine.

When I was a kid, I was interested in writing, but I was also interested in science.  And beginning around the age of nine, I made science my focus.

Which is not to say that I didn’t try writing.  At the age of twelve, I wrote a bunch of stories and submitted them to the science fiction magazines.  The stories, unfortunately, were rather bad.  As I noted before, I was more comfortable writing in the short form, and so I tended to come up with a clever idea but have no idea how to develop it.  So my stories were mostly short-shorts with surprise endings, kind of like the Probability Zero stories that Analog publishes.

I did try writing longer works; in ninth grade I formed a school club called Bookwriters. Our goal was to work together as a group to write a novel by the end of the school year. We never managed it, but we did learn a bit about writing.  (One of the other members of that group was Charles Ardai, my best friend in high school and now the publisher of Hard Case Crime.)

In college, I was too busy to pursue writing, as I was earning a degree in Physics and hoping to become a working scientist. I did submit a crime story to both Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, but neither magazine took it.  Anyway, once I graduated college I figured that I would focus on science and forget about writing.

But in graduate school, I discovered that that day-to-day life of a scientist wasn’t really for me. So I rediscovered a love of writing, and of science fiction. Nomi, who was my girlfriend at the time and is now my wife, brought me to my first science fiction convention, Arisia ’92.  As I sat in on panels, where people discussed topics from the science of time travel to preparing yourself for a career in space, I decided that I wanted to become a part of it as a writer of science fiction.

So at the same time as I was working on my Master’s in Physics and becoming a teacher, I also studied the craft of fiction. I bought every book on fiction writing that seemed remotely useful; all of them still sit on a bookcase in my office, for quick reference. I wrote story after story after story, and sent them off to all the major markets, earning a whole stack of form rejection letters.

And then finally, Stanley Schmidt, the editor of Analog, sent me a personal rejection note. I knew that if an editor showed any interest at all in your work, you should try that editor again, so Analog became my primary market. One day Stan sent a note about my story “TeleAbsence,” which implied that he’d like to see it again if I rewrote it.  I rewrote, but it still wasn’t at a point where Stan felt it was publishable.  However, by then I had been accepted to the 1994 Clarion Workshop. I brought the story with me and got feedback from my teachers and fellow students. Based on that feedback, I rewrote the story again, and it was this third version that appeared in the July 1995 Analog as my first published fiction.

What kept me going through all those rejections was a fierce, intense desire to tell the stories that I wanted to tell.  And I’m very glad I persevered.

Alan5 writes: “Hi, I hope I”m not to late for questions for Michael Burstein.

1. Please tell us about your writing process. Do you come up with an idea and plan it out in detail or do you just start writing and see where it takes you?

2. Do you have any writing secrets? For instance, Stephen King says he likes to listen to rock music when he writes. Other writes like to work in the morning. Others like to work late at night. Do you have a routine or is it just when the inspiration hits you?

3. Do you have any advice for writers just starting out?”

Michael: 1. Usually, I come up with some idea that obsesses me, and that leads me to write the story.  Or I steal someone else’s obsession; for example, “Time Ablaze” came about because of my wife’s interest in the General Slocum disaster, which soon became my own.

When I first started out as a teenager, I tended to go directly to my electric typewriter, write the story once, and decide that was it.  Today, I tend to outline every story I write, even the very short ones.  So the answer to your question is that I plan every story out in meticulous detail, and sometimes that planning includes writing dialogue or description that find their way verbatim into the stories.

2. In my ideal world, I’d sleep in the morning until I naturally woke up, then write in the morning, and leave my afternoon open for other tasks.   In fact, due to the generosity of my wife, I actually spent a year like that.  In reality, since I have a day job, I write as I can.  I try to write during my lunch break and in the evenings.  As for music, I can’t write well if I’m listening to music accompanied by lyrics, so rock music, as much as I enjoy it, would be right out.  (As would Gilbert & Sullivan, although I love their work too.)  The music that helps me most is Mozart.

3. Most of the advice I’d offer is rather prosaic; how many times have aspiring writers been told to read and write as much as they can?  On a meta level, I’d say to seek out all the writing resources you possibly can.  Two I think are useful are the writing resources at SFWA website (http://www.sfwa.org/writing) and the Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy online course created by writer Jeffrey Carver and available for free at http://www.writesf.com. Jeff also has a nice page of writing advice at http://www.starrigger.net/advice.htm.  Truly, any advice I’d give you can be found there.

And come to think of it, if you’re involved with a workshop, I’d highly recommend using the Turkey City Lexicon primer as a starting point; it’s filled with many of the classic errors found in beginners’ stories.  A copy of the lexicon can be found at http://www.sfwa.org/writing/turkeycity.html.

Iamza writes: “Question for Mr Burstein (am I too late? He’s a reader of the blog, right?): When is the novel coming out?”

Michael: See above; I’m not the only one who gets to decide when the novel comes out, alas.

I’ll end this with a piece of trivia for my Canadian readers: the protagonist of the first novel I wrote was named Robert Bondar Garneau.  If you’re Canadian, you’ll understand.

That seems to be it. Thanks to everyone for reading the book, and for your questions, and I’ll continue to see you around Joe’s blog.

Today’s mailbag:
DasNdanger writes: “Anyhoo…thanks much for the Wraithy answer. So…if these masked soldiers aren’t the brightest chevrons on the stargate, could they be an acceptable alternative food source, since Wraith have been known to feed on their own kind anyway??”
Answer: A fellow wraith would certainly do in a pinch (see The Defiant One) but humans are much easier to harvest and, frankly, much tastier.
Dovil writes: “If the movie doesn’t end up them all getting married (don’t forget Ronon/Amelia, John/Sockpuppet on Right Hand), while Hive ships blow up in the distance showering them with fireworks, I’ll be bitterly disappointed. Caldwell can preceed over the ceremony, Radek can be the caterer, and Lorne can trundle up the aisle bearing the rings. Then the Replicators can beam down and lead the drunken robot dancing at the reception.”

Answer: Great! You will, of course, receive ¼ the story fee in addition to fully half the blame if 100% of the audience doesn’t love it (which, quite frankly, rarely every happens so no need to worry).

Luis writes: “Mr. M I see you are still baby sitting Brie…does he harrass the other dogs???”
Answer: Brie is a she. And she only harasses Lulu – who harrasses her back.

Cat4444 writes: “Also, can we expect more spoilers from the pups on the SGA movie?”

Answer: Probably.

Nadine writes: “Not sure if I missed it, but have you seen Star Trek yet? If so, did you like it? If not, any plans to see it?”

Answer: I don’t go to see movies anymore. I’ll probably pick up the dvd.

SebiMeyer writes: “Will the SGA and SG1 movie look like the SG we know, or more like the SGU we will come to love?”

Answer: The SGA movie will remain visually and narratively true to the series.

SebiMeyer writes: “How is the writing staff liking the more character based approach? Personally I’d venture the guess that it is “easier” to have stories inspire other stories based on character developments rather than having to come up with a “alien X is totally going to kick our ass untill we turn it around last minute” stories of the week. Am I right in assuming that this kind of fatigue was reason why the writers (yourself included) wanted to shake it up up a bit?”

Answer: I don’t think there was any fatigue involved. After all, Brad and Robert stepped away from the day-to-day production of Atlantis. They were well-rested, creatively buzzing, and eager to spin the franchise off in a new direction. As for the more character-based approach – love it.

Miz writes: “ Why does there need to be romance in the SGA movie at all? Isn’t this a sci-fi adventure series? You know, action, drama, tension, hijinks, all awesome – but kissing and cooing?”

Answer: Who said anything about kissing and cooing? The movie will be action-driven.

Shannon writes: “The previous question about Weir left me wondering – do you think the robot Weir is awake while floating through space or did she shut down?”

Answer: Her system – and the systems of her fellow replictors – have shut down. However, if anyone is foolish enough to mount a recovery and then attempt to awake them, they’d be asking for trouble.

Venya writes: “Does Sheppard’s infatuation with Teyla have anything to do with his ex-wife?”

Answer: Sheppard is infatuated with Teyla?

Nadine writes: “Did you check out any of the other pics?”

Answer: Adorable. If we lived on a farm, we’d not doubt have an English bulldog as well.

 

Quade1 writes: “Joe you always talk about how great the actors/crew are to work with. Would you say working on the show made the people so great, or that the people working on the show made it great?”

Answer: The people were great to begin with and that made working with them something to look forward to. Trust me, there’s no worse feeling than waking up in the morning knowing you’ll be putting up with some jerk blowhard for the greater part of the day.

53 thoughts on “May 26, 2009 Author Michael A. Burstein Answers Your Questions

  1. Hey Joe,

    Uh… I got nothin.

    I’m still voting for your dogs on the twitter wall. They’re now on the first page for Mr. Twitter Universe. They’re on the second page for Ms. Twitterworld.

    No need to thank me. I slipped Lulu the mate to the other shoe she chewed into a gummy mass yesterday. Consider us even.

    For now.

    Trish

  2. The Pittsburgh Penguins are back in the Stanley Cup Finals for the second straight year. You should have bet on them, Joe. They are going to win it all.

  3. Answer: Great! You will, of course, receive ¼ the story fee in addition to fully half the blame if 100% of the audience doesn’t love it (which, quite frankly, rarely every happens so no need to worry).

    I have just gone on to Ebay and brought a yacht and a private plane from my anticipated fortune and am now hovering around Gateworld waiting in anticipation for the outpouring of universal love that’s bound to come my way. Hurrah!

  4. Thanks, Joe!

    And of course I’ve seen The Defiant One, silly. 🙂 But he fed on his crew out of necessity, much in the same way survivors in a lifeboat might nibble on the first one to succumb to the heat.

    I’m thinking more along the lines of an alternative to hunting humans (also thinking here about those big cloning facilities). If soldiers are controlled by their superiors, wouldn’t they submit to sacrifice if it was demanded of them? Or – in your mind – do you think that some Wraith would view the practice as barbaric, something only done under extreme circumstances (as in TDO ).

    And why are humans tastier? Huh-huh, why?? Wouldn’t a human-fed Wraith be even tastier, considering their diet? Or – besides life energy – are Wraith feeding on thoughts and emotions, too (the whole ‘defiance tastes like life itself’ thing)? Am I pushing it by asking too many questions?? 😛

    Have a good night, Joe. 🙂

    das

  5. Thanks very much Joe & Mr Burnstein for the Q&A, totally enjoyed it. Michael, we have a lot in common and I will definitely be reading some of your books!

    @Everyone– again, thanks so much from me, my dad and my son for the condolences on my mom. Your kind words have really helped, especially my son who loves reading here about the dogs and Stargate (he’s still too shy to comment). The TARDIS bank I gave her and a flashdrive with her life & family info is going to be buried with her. Like a time capsule. Amazing tech that I can do that, maybe to be found & read by some archaeologist in a distant future.
    DD

  6. Joe,

    All the pleas for Teyla/John, McKeller, Ronon/everybody in the movie leaves me ice cold (the lack of romance in my own life not withstanding). If there has to be some, the only love I want to see in the movie is TEAM LOVE. IMO, that was sorely missing in most of the final season and I’d love to see it make a comeback. Just another totally unsolicited opinion.

    Best,

    Rose

  7. WAITASTINKIN’MINUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Whoa…it just hit me. I was so wrapped up in thinking about Wraith, I totally missed it. Totally. But I stepped back for a minute…and geez, it hit me right in the face…

    So, do tell, Joe…How in the world do YOU know that humans are tastier?? 😕

    das

  8. SebiMeyer writes: “Will the SGA and SG1 movie look like the SG we know, or more like the SGU we will come to love?”

    Answer: The SGA movie will remain visually and narratively true to the series.

    hmm, answered in true joe fassion. 😛

    did you not mention the sg1 movie because 1- you don’t know the details on the sg1 movie, so you can’t comment, 2- you left the sg1 movie out so we’d think there was an sg1/sgu filming style connection, 3- there ‘is’ a connection, but not in filming style but in the narratively (to change) part, 4- it’s your coy and clever way to keep the interest, or 5- you’re insane and eat dog food on the floor with your dogs?

    😀

  9. Hi, Joe
    Now Weir’s story ends. But F.R.A.N.’s theme is still in the database, right?
    Will Michelle Morgan play F.R.A.N. again in the future movie?

  10. A big thank you to Michael A. Burstein for the very interesting Q&A. It was very well written, but I guess that is why you are a writer! I’m glad you are hanging out on Joe’s blog. You’re a touch of class.

    Joe your blog has it all. Thanks for bringing in all these great guests and giving everyone an opportunity to correspond directly with them about their works.

    Also, I see the other dogs are spreading rumors about Lulu being a jealous sort (cat fights with Brie) when she has a few too many drinks. I just wish your children would all get along. Maybe they could spread rumors about you instead…

    Oh, and my new puppy (the beagle tornado), her name is Maggie. She went thru several names before finally finding one her mother could remember. Now I don’t have to point at her, snapping my fingers, saying, “hey! whats your name again?!”

  11. @ Trish – Yeah, I’m thinking we’re in for a horrifying ‘treat’ one of these days in an upcoming ‘weird food purchase’ installement … 😯

    😛

    das

  12. @Das: Huh. Could I be more twisted than you are? 😯 I’m thinking, “Joe’s a wraith! It’s the perfect disguise… pale-skinned writer/producer from being locked inside all the time…” Uh… yeah. Maybe he’s just a cannibal. And maybe I should go to bed. 😛

  13. Hey Joe,
    it makes me happy to see that the SGA movie will be action driven. Are we talking about space battles or hand to hand combat? Or both?
    I look forward to seeing Atlantis on Earth, bet the IOA are going to be terrible about it. Ah well… I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
    Oh – and will Carson be making an appereance?

    Have a good day/night/whatever time zone it is you’re in…

    Mirjam

  14. Joe said: The people were great to begin with and that made working with them something to look forward to. Trust me, there’s no worse feeling than waking up in the morning knowing you’ll be putting up with some jerk blowhard for the greater part of the day.

    Joe, could you please define “jerk blowhard”? What sort of personality type drives you nuts?

    Patricia

  15. @ Trish Your pup (I use the term loosely) sound like a big one! He’ll probably get bigger right? ‘Cause 100lbs seems small (lol) for a Pyreneese. Bella’s only 36 lbs, which is actually “petite” for a bulldog.

    Joe,

    Glad to hear you liked the pics. Right now Bella still has a fair bit of energy – for an english bulldog I mean. She can actually (and regularly does) put in a 10 km run with my parents.

    At Chocoatl do you have any favourite chocolates in particular? Do you stick with the plain chocolates or the ones that have stuff in them? My favourite is the one from Ecuador (64% chocolate I think), but I also like “Venezuala”.

    Have you ever been to West? What did you think?

    Thanks!

  16. *Venezuela
    whoops, can’t spell tonight. In my defense I just finished a 4 hour physics review session 😛

  17. For Michael A Burstein – many thanks for the Q&A. You are cool…and of course even “cooler” cause you are a fan as well.

  18. Hello, I’m pretty new around and not sure if others have asked this before, but the curiosity just itches me.
    I’ve recently read on wiki (so I blame them if they lied), that the third SG1 movies will center around Jack O’Neill (can’t wait to see Richard Dean Anderson in action again). Anyway, as a die-hard fan of the Jack/Sam pairing (ever since I started watching the series, many years back) I have to ask this: will their (possible) relationship finally become reality? Because, just like Claudia Black’s character, Vala pointed out in “200”, everybody loves a wedding!

  19. My thanks to Mr. Burnstein for participating here, and for answering my questions. Alas, I understand that time is always a consideration for an author. But just as you have to decide on what you will work on, as a reader I have limits on what I can actually read. It’s just that sometimes certain ideas or themes by an author really fascinate me. As for Spaceships, I think part of my…amusement, I suppose, is that such advanced creatures could still feel something like embarrassment in their past, that they would go to such measures to destroy that past. As for the ships, I was thinking in terms of one-offs like Sputnik or Skylab, or other designs that would have been destroyed before mankind had the interest or means to preserve such vessels for future generation. And I also agree. The evolution of man into a higher form has certainly been done before, especially in Star Trek. Your take is one I’ve not seen before though, where the evolved creatures retain such a vestige of their humanity.
    If not too late, I do have a couple of questions for Mr. Carroll. First, in the book Marshal France’s method of creating characters is discussed. Does this reflect how you approach such a job? When writing a story or novel in general, how do you go about it? Idea and let it run, outline and follow a predetermined course, or reverse engineer from a set point? Another poster mentioned disappointment that we didn’t see excerpts of some of the Marshall France stories inside Land of Laughs. Have or had you considered doing any of these? Are there any plans to follow up on this novel? I have to admit I’m intrigued at the idea of two people with such dangerous powers facing off, and how their battle would affect both their own creations and the real world around them. Also, how much free will do you see France’s creations as having? I found this and the idea of how such creations might evolve as some of the most thought provoking aspects of your story. Finally, what genre or genres do you find most interesting to work in? Thank you for taking the time to participate in Mr. Mallozzi’s blog, and to Mr. M. for making that participation possible.

  20. Hi Joe,
    Questions – I’ve thought about going to the Stargate conventions, but have declined to do so thus far because I would want to meet the behind the scenes guys more than I want to meet the actors. To me the actors are an important part, but the others in the whole production process are more important. How come there isn’t a behind the scenes Stargate convention where we could meet the writers, producers, camera operators, directors, costume designers, etc?

    Also, it would be so cool to watch and assist with any of the production of the shows or movies. Is there any chance that you (the franchise) take volunteers or interns and if so, what is the process to do so.

  21. Who said anything about kissing and cooing? The movie will be action-driven.

    Heh, I’m impressed, my first ever comment on the blog gets into the mailbag. Domo Arigato as Mr. Roboto would say.

    And kissing and cooing, well, that was my own ‘code’ for romance. SGA doesn’t need that, despite what the shippers might say/want/desire/need. Can you tell already I’m not one of them? Here’s to the awesome SGA movie with action, baby, action! Cheers.
    ~ Miz

  22. Thank you, to Mr Burnstein for his Q & A. It sounds like he has a busy schedule, so thank you for making time for this.

    Das/Trish: You both are so funny. It’s a good thing Mr. M. seems to like you two 😀 .

    Mr. M, as for “jerk blowhard”, I know you can’t name names but how about initials?

    Tam

  23. Joseph, dah-ling…you forgotsies the date. 😉

    @ Trish – Oh, I KNOW Joe’s a Wraith. Spiffy dresser, obsessed with feeding, and – if you’ve noticed – no mention of Ashleigh lately…

    das

  24. Coucou Joseph =) Vous allez bien aujourd’hui? Moi ça va, il à fait encore trés beau aujourd”hui dommage je suis restais enfermer dans une bureaux tout le journée.

    Merci pour ces question réponse avec Michael.A, trés interrsant.

    ••“Does Sheppard’s infatuation with Teyla have anything to do with his ex-wife?”

    Answer: Sheppard is infatuated with Teyla? ••

    Mais euh joseph!! Je suis sure que vous le faite rien que vous embêter les sheyla lol…vous savez trés bien qu”il y’a quelque chose entre eux en plus.

    Aller passer une bonne journée, bisou

  25. I didn’t get a chance to read Mr. Burstein’s book so I din’t get a chance to participate in the Q&A, but I think it’s so great that authors and actors will take part in these Q& A’s – it really restores my faith in people. They are like everyone else, busy and have other things to do, but the fact they take the time to read and thoughtfully answer these questions, just for us. Thank you

  26. Hi Joe,
    Thanks for the Q&A with Mr. Burstein.

    Questions for next mailbag

    1. Will the midseason 2 parter be between Justice and Space, or Space and Divided?

    2. If you get a quick moment, could you ask Carl the exact date of MGM’s 85th B-day please?

    3. Will Andy be Directing Space?

    4. Heres the link to the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JackVwmvN9g&feature=channel_page So what do you thin k of my video? (We actually did this back in november, so it was like the second video we ever made).

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  27. Actually, it’s May 26’s entry… (think you’re slick, doncha Joe? Trying to get out of posting a new entry tonight, ya li’l stinker, you! 😉 )

    @ Tammy Dixon – Oh, not so sure Joe ‘likes’ us. I’m suspecting he’s just gathering data for his upcoming best seller, Whack jobs of the Internets and Other Strange Tales.

    🙄

    das

  28. @Das: And here I thought I was ahead of you on the idea of Joe being a wraith. However you had gathered more evidence. Duh! You are the resident wraith obse– I mean expert! I didn’t put the *obsession with eating* and the *mysterious absence* of Ashleigh together. All of that PLUS the spiffy dressing does all point to him being a wraith. 😯 Scary! And to think I had dinner with Joe and Marty at Fuel last year. With my DAUGHTER no less. We both could have been meals. Waaaait… is Marty a wraith, too? What about Carl? Not Rob! He’s too awesome to be a wraith. Although…

  29. Hey Joe,

    Can you settle an argument? I have a friend who insists that the little “leaks” that happen in the Stargate universe (not SGU the show, but the whole shebang) are by clear design. The leak of the “not quite finished” Continuum, leaking of some eps before airing, etc…

    I, on the other hand, who still believe in Santa, the tooth Fairy, and that the Academy Award winners are always surprised, say no, it’s not so. The leaks are just that. Leaks. Not some clever ploy to manipulate and tease.

    So…which of us is right? A homemade gourmet dinner hangs in the balance. I need to know if I should plan to head on over to the frou-frou food store sometime this week.

    Pol

    PS, if you know the truth about Santa, keep it to yourself though.

  30. @ Trish – There are other clues.

    He collects supervillain statues…

    He likes to wear black…

    He’s a master of snark…

    He feigns a lack of knowledge when I ask the most important Wraith questions, and when he does reply, the answers are often cryptic, at best…

    Remember that housebreaker who came a’visitin’? We only have Joe’s word on it that the guy actually did drive off in a van…

    And those eyebrows of his…I’m guessing…fake.

    🙂

    das

  31. Hoping Joe doesn’t mind if I respond to a few more things here…

    drldeboer:”Michael, we have a lot in common and I will definitely be reading some of your books!”

    Well, I’m hoping. At the moment, I only have one book, so this means I better get cracking writing some more!

    Ponytail: “A big thank you to Michael A. Burstein for the very interesting Q&A. It was very well written, but I guess that is why you are a writer! I’m glad you are hanging out on Joe’s blog. You’re a touch of class.”

    Thanks!

    sylvia: “For Michael A Burstein – many thanks for the Q&A. You are cool…and of course even ‘cooler’ cause you are a fan as well.”

    I am blushing.

    Daniel Willis: “I have that Stargate boxset!!!!”

    Nomi and I are eagerly awaiting an Atlantis full-series release, so we can get that set as well. Amusingly, we actually took all the DVDs out of the box and put them in jewel cases for protection. But we kept the box because it’s nice to have on the shelf.

    Thornyrose: “But just as you have to decide on what you will work on, as a reader I have limits on what I can actually read.”

    One of the curses of modern life is just how much more “content” there is out there. There’s so much I want to read, and watch, and experience, and I know there will never be enough time to do it all.

    Tammy Dixon: “Thank you, to Mr Burnstein for his Q & A. It sounds like he has a busy schedule, so thank you for making time for this.”

    You’re welcome!

    Anais33: Merci pour ces question réponse avec Michael.A, trés interrsant.

    Um, de rien? Pas de quoi? Avec plaisir? Je vous en prie? Je t’en prie? (That’s what I get for using an Internet translator to say “You’re welcome” in French…)

    Karen a.k.a kabra: “I think it’s so great that authors and actors will take part in these Q& A’s – it really restores my faith in people. They are like everyone else, busy and have other things to do, but the fact they take the time to read and thoughtfully answer these questions, just for us. Thank you”

    Early on, I learned that everyone is a regular person, from my interactions with Asimov. And yet I still have the same lump in my throat from meeting people who have done great things.

    Mary: Robert Bondar Garneau! How excellent. And the Robert part will be up there for six months!!

    You see, Canadians understand the reference, and are always surprised that I, as a USAian, came up with it. But my wife and I are fond of Canadian culture and history. We honeymooned in Toronto and we try to note the wonderful influence Canada has had on our own culture.

  32. Don’t know how Lulu will feel about this, but in the Mr. Twitterverse contest, their Twitter is doing better than Justin Timberlake at the moment at 98 votes for him, 125 for the dogs. And Martin Gero is doing even less well. However, David Hewlett has quite a bit.

  33. @ Trish: So did you like Fuel when you were there? I went with my mom a couple weeks ago and I really loved it; great food, great atmosphere, really friendly staff….
    Are you from Vancouver? One of the reasons I quite enjoy reading about Joe’s take on restaurants (I’m not really a “foodie”) is that I’m from Vancouver and love getting the scoop on local cuisine…

  34. Michael A. Burstein wrote

    “discovered that that day-to-day life of a scientist wasn’t really for me”,

    “I plan every story out in meticulous detail”, and

    “every book on fiction writing that seemed remotely useful”

    That’s where I am, give or take. I loved the problem solving and creativity of engineering, but absolutely couldn’t stand how few and far between the opportunities to use them were so maybe my technical background won’t be a total waste if I can apply it to a craft. Once you’ve written one set of vendor substantiation requirements for a heat treating procedure, you’ve written them all, IYKWIM. Then there’s the 20 minutes of fun putting together a design of experiments, followed by 6 months of chasing samples around labs while constantly fighting to keep your funding and political elbowing to get your work orders done in a reasonable time frame, followed by another 20 minutes of fun when you crunch your results if you still have the funding by then – Whoo Hoo!

  35. Thanks, Michael for visiting and answering our questions! I’m sure we’ll see you around the blog here in the future; it’s addictive.

    Michael said:

    At this stage in my life, I’d probably only actually write the fifth story if I knew in advance that some market would pay for it.

    That may sound sad, or overly mercenary, but the fact is that any writer’s time is limited, and all writers have to prioritize their projects.

    Not mercenary or sad, just realistic. Most of us must prioritize our activities – be they work or leisure – and parcel out our available time, that most precious of commodities, among them.

    Michael said:

    Wow! That’s not something I did deliberately. If I recall correctly, Ria came from wanting to use the name Rita. As for Kel, I know I wanted the name, but for the life of me I can’t recall where it came from. I think there was something in the phrase “Kel-Ria” that resonated for me.

    It must have been subconscious! And I’m always finding things in books that authors didn’t put there…
    Sorry, but “Kel-Ria” doesn’t ring any bells for me.

  36. @Michael Burstein: The fact that you are so generous about answering questions and talking with us about your book makes me want to read your books even more! I just wanted to pipe in that I appreciate you taking your time to answer the questions of those who’ve read your book. Thank you! 🙂

    @Nadine: I loved Fuel. I went last year when Joe and Marty graced us with their presence. Or was it that Allie and I graced them with ours? 😉 Anyway, I remember I had the Wild BC Salmon. It was amazing! The service was wonderful! Then I went this past April with my husband. He’d never been to Vancouver. Actually, he’d never been to Canada. 😯 He was scared of the Fuel menu so I talked him into dessert. Our desserts were fantastic. The service was even better than I remembered. I’m quite a bit away, though. I live in Tampa, Florida. 🙄 As much as I love Fuel I’m not willing to book a flight, endure customs and stay in a hotel. 😉

    @Das: 😯 You know what they say… if it walks like a wraith and it talks like a wraith… *shudder*

  37. Hey Joe. I’m sorry if this has been asked before (I’m in the middle of some hectic stuff right now so I sometimes don’t check your blog for like weeks) but I was laying in bed, unable to sleep and coming up with bedtime stories for myself (kinda like some people count sheep), and I wondered:

    1
    if wraith are a human-iratus bug crossbreed, and they can feed on humans, can they feed on iratus bugs too?

    2
    if the iratus bug can feed on humans (season one) and wraith (season 5), can it feed on other mammals too? if not, how can they possibly exist in such large amounts? if yes, how come the wraith lost the ability to feed off all mammals? Does it have to do with brain structure and will dolphins and elephants do as well, but are they something that doesn’t exist in the Pegasus galaxy? (Hey, there’d be something for our team to bring to the galaxy, lol, Wraith banquet… now with sushi!)

    3
    How come after being fed upon to the verge of death (looks pretty dried out, are the tissues compressed?) and being brought back to life by the wraith, humans don’t suffer ill effects, but after a partial feeding without returning of life later on, there’s a high death percentage (according to the episode in which Shep gets kidnapped by Kolya&co)?
    Does it have to do with say, acute myglobinuric renal faillure after the compression of tissues, such as occurs in widespread muscle crush injuries?
    Would it be fair to say that since the Wraith don’t inflate after feeding, they’re not extracting (much) fluids and so it’s not due to a cellular level (such as membrane) damage?

  38. As for Sheppard… Yeah he is. First off, he kissed her! Yes he was wraithy at the time but I kinda think that only removed the moral restrictions he was imposing on himself, not actually instigated the biological attraction.
    Also, how he reacted when she said she was pregnant? Totally jealous!

    Although it does look like he’s gotten over it since the kid was born. Maybe he’s switched attention to the Travelers captain chick now since she’s even harder to get than Teyla, Ancients stuck on planets as punishment or in time dilation fields, his commanding officers etc… Hey here’s a thought, maybe he can go for a computer simulation or a Wraith queen next, that’s even more unattainable than all his other crushes!
    That being said, it would be nice to see Johnnyboy get someone. Oh and maybe Radek can get it on with Kavanaugh or Novak or something, depending on what gender preference you had in mind for him… Also Caldwell – as creepy as this sounds coming from a 23 year old chick – is still kinda cute… Something about those broad shoulders. Who’s he with? Does he have a wife, kids? Are the kids in the stargate programme?

    LoL I’m insomniac again, can’t you tell (2:08 AM here)

  39. OMG Das! You’re on to something. Whehehehe.
    Italian… He’s Italian… Yeah right. That’s what they all say. 😉

    Although I’d have figured Joe more for a goa’uld really. Just take a look at all the following he goes to great lengths of gathering… And I’m pretty sure I saw some glowwy eyes on a few of the photos!
    So Joe, when can I expect a goa’uld larva worm thingy in my mail? I could sure use the extra health becoming a jaffa would bring…

  40. Also – can we get all the questions Das ever asked and the answers you gave her in a neat little paperback? *evilgrin*
    I’m sure it’d fill the pages and be a very interesting read on the culture and social relations of Wraith and their human treats… Uh, I mean treaty partners of course!

    No seriously. *runs off to see if she can configure google to make the search for her*

  41. Update on the dogs: Mr Twitter, The dogs, 147 votes; Justin Timberlake 115, Martin Gero 80. David Hewlett in the thousands.

    On Ms. Twitter, the dogs have 119 votes, Kate Hewlett has 555 votes.

  42. Michael A. Burstein:
    drldeboer:”Michael, we have a lot in common and I will definitely be reading some of your books!”
    Well, I’m hoping. At the moment, I only have one book, so this means I better get cracking writing some more!

    My bad, I meant stories. Everyone’s made it sound so good, my brain thought each one shoulda been a whole book! By “in common” I meant your influences reflect my tastes- Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Star Wars & Trek, Sherlock, etc- definitely stories with tones like that has my interest. Best wishes on the next book.
    PS “Kel” sounds like a Highlander villain.
    DD

  43. Another wonderful Q&A, nice of Michael Burstein to be participate. I didn’t read this one(so many books,so little time–u know what I mean) but I will certainly try to get to some of his in the future.
    I did however read The Land of Laughs, what an odd little book, it was hard to put down, but I could stop reading and I easily remembered the details when I started up again. I don’t think I will look at English bulldogs the same again. I liked the concept of writing and it becomes real, except it was a little scary that it could turn on you so quickly. I thought Thomas was going to be a bigger whiner at first, but he turned out, well sort of not. I was happy he met Sax, even if it was only for a while, but could he not have written her in a book as he did Marshall and his farther to bring her back to him, and she could live anywhere he was,(happily everafter) oh wait, maybe there is a sequel and that will happen(shh, don’t spoil it). I thought maybe the puppets might come to life at some point after the dogs(so very outer limits,alfred hitchcock)(i’m a little scared) I too had a different cover than your pix, I was glad to find the book since it was first printed,many moons ago.(29?) But it was still a good read and I would recommend it. They can’t have my copy coz I will probably read it again. thanks again Joe. I guess if I had a question it might be, why didn’t Thomas write Sax into being after he lost her? and maybe why it was written in Parts with subsection, not chapter, maybe that is his way, since this is the first of his books I have read. Thank you Mr. Carroll. Looking forward to your answers.

  44. @ Trish: Makes sense.. though for Fuel it would *almost* be worth it :D. I’d been wanting to try it out for a while, and we had the perfect opportunity when we were going to see Yo-Yo Ma. Do you know who he is? Have you ever heard him play? He is even more phenomenal in person than on record. He was playing out at UBC, which is right down the road from Fuel. Did you get a chance to see the campus when you were here?

  45. Eu não entendo!!!! Se teyla e john não se gostam, como eles conseguem se relacionar de maneira diferente em relação aos outros de Atlantis.Se for amizade , não acho que amigos por mais que sejam ligados, se olham de maneira tão entensa como eles. As relações amorosas estão em todos os lugares; principalmente onde as pessoas passam a maior parte de seus dias com as mesmans pessoas. Creio que nas forças armadas não é diferente; não vejo problema em ter romances em SGA, kannan e teyla ou teyla e ronon podem se relacionar mais intimamente ; teyla e john não? porquê ? Eles convivem entre se a mais de 5 anos ,será que essas pessoas só servem para viverem batendo nos inimigo? É um caso para pensar.

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