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Posts Tagged ‘I Remember the Future’

I fear my house has become a massive cold spot for bizarre, inexplicable occurrences clearly supernatural in nature.  It began a few days ago in the form of random manifestations in the various bathrooms that, like crop circles, seemed to contain some sort of otherworldly messages in their design.  I provide photo documentation of the initial phenomen –

Note the way the toilet paper tapers, clearly suggestive of intelligent design.

The next incident was even more  of a shock.  I opened up the linen closet to retrieve a bath towel and discovered its once disorganized contents had been transformed into THIS ordered state –

!!!

Equally mystifying developments have followed.  The dishwasher runs without my loading it or turning it on.  The washer and dryer also seem to operate of their own volition.  And my dog Maximus has started answering to Makka-chan.  What the hell is going on?

I’m frightened.

Erring on the side of caution, I hired an exorcist to come in and rid my home of the underwear-folding spirit while Akemi and I headed out to what is purported by many to be one the city’s top dining destination: Lumiere.  The last time I visited was over a year ago, shortly after then-owner Rob Feenie had left/been forced out (?) of his own  kitchen.  On the night I dined there with Bob Picardo, the place was almost empty – but the quality of the dishes was excellent.  We enjoyed a multi-course meal (I believe we were served seven or eight plates) with nary a misstep in the bunch (with the exception of the venison with chocolate sauce).

Well, last night, I was back to a transformed dining room and menu.  Gone were the elaborate multi-course menu’s that offered anywhere from seven to twelve dishes.  We had a choice of a three or five courses.  Despite Akemi’s protests, I decided to go with the latter.  In addition to a couple of glasses of Riesling (Akemi) and a few cocktails (me), we enjoyed a silky sweet and smooth pumpkin soup with parmesan foam as an amuse-bouche and our first course: Beet & Vodka-Cured Hamachi with sturgeon caviar, baby beets, and horseradish cream. Delightfully delicate and delicious. Akemi was very impressed with the quality of the fish.

Akemi was less impressed with the quality of the butter served with dinner, however, a whipped run-of-the-mill Fraser Valley offering that paled in comparison to what we were served at Bishop’s only night’s earlier.  A minor quibble, especially considering I don’t usually partake, but it’s the small things that make a difference – especially when you’re dining at a place with the fine-dining cachet of a Lumiere.  Next up…

Cornemal-Crusted Qualicum Bay Scallops with apple-truffle coleslaw, brisket, parsnip puree, and scallop just. The scallops were divine, marrying nicely with the tender brisket and sweet parsnip puree. The sour green apple crisps topping the scallops were a bizarre little addition that detracted from the whole. The coleslaw was fine.

For an additional charge, we were able to include an extra course - risotto with shaved black truffles. As much as I love the truffle, I found this dish underwhelming.

Slow Baked Arctic Char with Potato Lyonnaise, Leek Royale, and Beurre Rouge. Three for three on the fish and seafood. The char was perfectly prepared, the accompaniments terrific.

Duo of AAA Dry Aged Beef - red wine braised short rib with potato fondant & rosemary soubise, seared rib eye. I preferred the marbling of the short rib but the rib eye was well-seasoned and tasty. Nowhere near in the same league as Japanese beef but fine nevertheless. That rosemary soubise on the other hand was ghastly. Akemi and I both took a bite and set 'em aside. "Mazui!"as the Japanese would say.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the menu offerings – and even more disappointed when I witnessed the table beside us being served items that hadn’t been made available to us including a fantastic looking pork duo that I would have much preferred over my beef.  At one point, our neighbors were served foie gras.  “It’s like eating a piece of fat,”sniffed one woman at the table and, with that, all four set their forks aside and waited for their dishes to be cleared.  What a waste.

Chocolate fondant with homemade ice cream. A luxurious duo.

The dessert was followed by a little surprise in the form some lovely warm madeleines and passable petits fours.

Then, THAT dessert was followed by a second little surprise in the form of a 20% service charge added to our bill.  Not a reasonable 10% or even 15%.  20%!  Okay, while I understand that the concept of tipping is foreign to many tourists and that restaurants may feel the need to protect their staff (although of the seven restaurants I’ve taken Akemi to since her arrival, only one – Lumiere – has taken this step), I still bristle at being slammed with a 20% service charge – and this from a guy who tends to tip between 20-25%.  It really left a bad taste in my mouth.  But, in all fairness, it could have been that rosemary soubise.

Well, the Nebula nominations have been announced and some familiar names made the list.  Congratulations go out to blog regular Michael A. Burstein whose “I Remember the Future” (one of several wonderful tales collected in his I Remember the Future anthology, a former Book of the Month Club pick) gets the nod in the Short Story category.  Well done, Michael!  Congrats also go out to the immensely talented, always entertaining – and, oh by the way, SGU Creative Consultant – John Scalzi whose The God Engines received a nomination in the Novella category.  John has also been nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy  for Zoe’s Tale, alongside two other Book of the Month Club guest authors: the late great Kage Baker for Hotel Under the Sun, and Catherynne M. Valente for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (which you can check out here: http://www.catherynnemvalente.com/fairyland/).  Kage Baker’s The Women of Nell Gwynne’s is also in the running for Best Novella as is “Act One” by SF veteran – and yet another Book of the Month Club guest author – Nancy Kress.  Another past guest author, the weird and wonderful Jeff Vandermeer, gets the nod in the Best Novel category for Finch, while a future guest author – Cherie Priest – receives the nod in the same category for Boneshaker, March’s Book of the Month Club pick.  Hope you’re all making your way through your copies and will be ready for the upcoming discussion!

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Well, we were all back at work today following the Victoria Day long weekend – Victoria Day, of course, being a recently adopted Canadian holiday commemorating one of history’s most remarkable pioneering female Brits. Yes, I refer to none other than Ms. Victoria Beckham. Looking back, I suspect the vote to bestow the honor on the former Posh Spice may have had more to do with a desire to have an extra holiday in May than anything else. All the same, this is the third year the country has marked the occasion with songs, dance, and goat kebobs in a vast nation-wide celebration that brings together peoples of all races and religions. Except, of course, for the Irish who are prohibited from participating and have to go to work instead. It was a great three-day break and now, Canadians have to wait a whole month for their next big holiday when the Emeril Legasse Day long weekend rolls around in late June.

Today, the SGA movie script, Stargate: Extinction, went out to the writing department. No one has gotten around to reading it yet but I imagine it’s just a matter of time before the accolades start rolling in. Carl, however, did read my short story over the weekend and, to my delight, enjoyed it. So 3 down and 2 356 689 to go!

Before lunch, Carl, Paul, and I headed down to Stage 1 where work is ongoing on the jungle set for Time. It’s looking mighty damn impressive. I took plenty of snaps, including a couple of shots of Carl posing beside a giant alien fern. From there, we headed over to the Destiny set where Peter DeLuise was directing Bobby, Louis, and David in scenes for Darkness and Light.

After lunch, we sat down to watch the director’s cut of Life. I can’t say enough good things about this episode, from Carl Binder’s script to the individual performances to Alex Chapple’s direction. Some incredibly poignant moments delivered by Brian J. Smith, Ming Na, and a couple of wonderful guest stars. I LOVED this episode.

Later, I was sitting in my office when I heard a familiar voice ask: “Is Mallozzi here?” I glanced up and, sure enough, it was Michael Shanks – with his lovely wife Lexa. I was mortified. Had I known he’d be bringing her by, I’d have cleaned the place up. My desk is a drop-zone. They stopped in and we spent a good half hour talking about exorcists, chiropractors, and exorcist-chiropractors. On their own, they’re very funny people but together, these two are absolutely hilarious. A terrific couple – who, conveniently enough, had to rush off to buy some roast chicken after I suggested my office would be clean in no time if we all pitched in.

I Remember the Future discussion:

Michael A. Burstein writes: ““Like “I Remember the Future”, this one resonated with me on a personal level, reminding me of the day I came across the webpage of Thomas M. Disch only days after his passing.”

Wow. You probably had the same thoughts I had when I came across Charles Sheffield’s webpage after he died (which, as I noted in the afterword, was the genesis of the story).”

Answer: Camp Concentration is one of my favorite SF novels. In fact, just the other day Paul returned a whack of books I’d lent him over the past year and he singled CC out (alongside Frederik Pohl’s Gateway) as his favorites. I considered making the book a Book of the Month Club selection and inviting Disch to take part in a Q&A but, sadly, never got the chance. While surfing for news about his sudden passing, I came across his website and was surprised to see that he kept a fairly active online presence. Sadder still to learn that, late in life, he suffered depression for his failure to gain recognition for his work. Too late to post a comment and let him know his work was appreciated by this reader at least.

Sylvia writes: “Re the old ending and the new ending. I loved the new ending as it gave Sarah the choice and the rite of decision – to take action – to get the tattoo. She did not have to prove her love and devotion. She chose to take a stand to make progress in the struggle that we learn from the lessons of the past. I rather liked that posture of doing the right thing and because one wanted to do the right thing.”

Answer: Yes, it’s a tough call because both endings offer up two very different but very positive elements. In the end, I think Michael’s editor (and his wife) echoed your sentiments – which is why he decided to go with that particular ending.

Sylvia also writes: “Was a bit surprised but gladdened to discover that Miss Ellis also resorted to changing appearance.”

Answer: I kind of suspected the surprise but loved it nevertheless. It cemented her relationship with Tony and offered up the most touching beat in the ensuing story, TelePresence, in which we learn of her dedication and eventual passing.

Thornyrose writes: “TeleAbsence was the best of the stories in combining emotion and sci fi elements. “

Answer: I would agree. All of these elements were nicely balanced and despite the future setting, the depth of the characters grounded the story in the here and now.

Thornyrose also writes: “It’s all too easy to look at technology as the solution to all social ills, but Mr. Burnstein rightly points out that economics and human nature will prevent an even distribution of such technologies.”

Answer: Which is something the author goes on to discuss in the afterword, making reference to someone who predicted that everyone would have a computer by the years 2001 (I believe it was). Well, not quite. While the technology is there, the means to acquire said technology remains problematic for many.

Thornyrose also 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?”

Answer: I assumed that, in time, as humanity shed their corporeal forms, they gave up on what they considered physical affectations – like spaceships. Kel collected the abandoned ships, amassing them into a personal collection.

Thornyrose also writes: “While I found it a bit suprising that the Church would rule aliens as soulless, and thus ineligable to become members, the device works well enough here.”

Answer: That was curious – but not altogether surprising. By the way, if you’re looking for a terrific novel that explores the issues of faith and alien visitation, I strongly urge you to pick up Michael Flynn’s Eifelheim. From Booklist: “In the fourteenth century, the Black Death ravaged Europe. Most towns decimated by it were eventually resettled, except for Eifelheim, despite its ideal location. Mathematical historian Tom discovers this anomaly and an unexpected connection to his domestic partner Sharon’s research in theoretical physics, which seems to be leading to a method of interdimensional travel. In fact, as Eifelheim’s priest back then, Father Dietrich, relates, before the plague’s arrival, an interstellar ship crashed nearby. The encounters between its passengers and the people of Oberhochwald, as Eifelheim was first called, reflect the panoply of attitudes of the time, from fear of the foreign to love and charity for one’s neighbors to the ideas of nascent natural philosophy (science), and the aliens’ reactions are equally fascinating.”

Thornyrose also writes: “ Decisions was a story that had me waiting for Rod Serling’s voice to speak out of the ether.”

Answer: It had a definite The Outer Limits feel for me.

Thornyrose also writes: “As soon as Reverend Haas mentioned a steamboat excursion, I recognised that the tale was centered on the tragedy of the General Slocum. […]. But the “instant romance” of Schmidt and Adele just didn’t ring true.”

Answer: Agreed. This was the one element in the story that felt awkward and forced. I could see Adele being smitten with Schmidt, but to have the two of them suddenly profess their love for one another, in spite of the circumstances, seemed all to quick.

Thornyrose also writes: “Of all the stories, Absent Friends is definitely my least least favorite. Levinson’s obsession over his dead friend goes beyond any sane level of grief. There is something more than a little creepy about his insistance at seeking out his friend’s alternate self.”

Answer: This is something I agree with as well. It seemed a single-minded obsession one would reserve for the love of one’s life rather than a friend, no matter how close.

Sparrow_hawk writes: “ Many of the stories just felt flat to me. When I tried to analyze what was missing (for me) in the stories I realized that although the premises of many of the stories were interesting, the settings were weak or non-existent. I’m a very visual person, and just couldn’t “see” where the story was taking place.”

Answer: Are you saying that you would have benefited from a more descriptive narrative?

Mailbag:

Morticae writes: “You know, there was an episode of SG-1 with a guy that used toothpicks and whatnot to booby trap his doors. Something like that!”

Answer: I know. Paul and I wrote it. Point of No Return.

DasNdanger writes: “1. We know that the Iratus bug that attacked Sheppard was in a sort of web, and in The Defiant One the Wraith webbed up his victim, suggesting that – perhaps – he produced the web/silk from his own body. So, in your mind (or had it ever been discussed), do Wraith have the ability to produce ’silk’ from their bodies, and if so…from where?

2. Since a Wraith – by definition – is a doppelganger, has this ever been taken into consideration in how Sheppard and Todd deal with each other? Todd, the ‘harbinger of bad luck’, ‘haunting’ his double – Sheppard – always present, reminding John of his darker side? Or am I just thinking too hard about this…lol.”

Answers: 1. In my mind, the webbing/cocoon is a byproduct of the ship, itself an organic construct.

2. While the wraith warrior class are clones, queens and the other males are not. They are unique.

O6untouchable writes: “1. In “Misbegotten”, Weir and Woolsey travelled to Atlantis on an Asgard ship, and got there nearly two weeks faster. That’s in roughly the same ballpark as the Daedalus’ 4-day trip from “The Siege”. Since the Asgard designed the Daedalus’ hyperdrive anyway, are their ships faster only because they’ve got a better power source?

2. If it is an issue of the power source, do the Daedalus, Apollo, et al now have better generators (to power the Asgard beam weapons and what-not)? Are they capable of making the trip to Atlantis faster?

3. After “The Return”, the ZPMs that the Asurans put in Atlantis were split up; one of them went to the Drone Chair. When the chair was moved to Area 51, was it still powered by that ZPM, or by some Asgard Core-inspired alternative? If the former, what happened to that ZPM?

4. The other ZPM from “The Return” went to the Odyssey. Between the Asgard Core and the fact that the Ori aren’t a threat anymore, did the ZPM get removed at some point? Was it depleted during “The Ark of Truth”, or is it still alive and kicking somewhere?”

Answers: 1. That’s a safe assumption to make.

2. No. Again, it comes down to the power source not the engine design.

3. Yes, the ZPM went with the chair.

4. More on exactly what is up with the Odyssey upcoming.

Scifan writes: “When it comes to guest actors, do you know who you want for the roles while your doing the script or do they have to ask? I remember someone told me that Goran Visnjic aka Dr. Luca Kovac from E.R. is a big fan of SGA. Do you look for those types of actors?”

Answer: We generally write the script and then look to cast. There have been occasions when we have sought out actors who have turned out to be fans of the show – Isaac Hayes for one, Wayne Brady for another. Goran Visnjic was a big fan of SG-1 and actually visited the set while in town working on Elektra. He and the cast really hit it off. We even offered him a guest spot but, unfortunately, he was unable to make it work schedule-wise.

Jim from WVa writes: “Will Stargate Universe employ shaky camera techniques like the movie Cloverfield?”

Answer: The camera work will certainly be more dynamic, but not to a jumpy, nausea-inducing extent.

T’loc writes: “I have a question, I am watching the Shrine from this past season, what would happen if the team had flown to that planet instead of walking could they have dialed a space-gate to escape? Would the water flown out into space? Would love to know the answer.”

Answer: The planet was only accessible via the planet gate. However, had they traveled their through a space gate, then escape would have been much easier – yes, them along with an enormous amount of water.

SebiMeyer writes: “what software is this? I either use Final Draft or Celtx for scripts, but this is new to me.”

Answer: Movie Magic Screenwriter.

O6untouchable also writes: “On a Movie-related note… you’ve already hinted that an Earth Battlecruiser might crop up in Universe somewhere, but what about the Atlantis and SG-1 movies? Are we going to find out what happened to the Sun Tzu, or see the Apollo and/or Daedalus again? (My girlfriend is particularly eager for more Caldwell!) And what about the Odyssey – will we ever find out what that secret mission was, or was that just an excuse to write her out so that she didn’t kick Hive Ship ass before Atlantis got there?”

Answer: Several of these ships will be making future appearances in the, uh, Stargate franchise.

Major D. Davis writes: “1. Would you like to edit my 5 page script (a script for the FBI files part 2?

2. Can I please send you a link to my best video I made(the script I was telling you about is part two of the FBI files. The link I want to send you is part for part 1)?

3. So there are a few stargate suprises for MGM’s 85th b-day. So what day is MGM’s 85th?

4. How is time going? Almost done?

5. Do you guys have a email address I can email(Instead of physically mailing something)?

6. How is the music and visual effects coming for Air?”

Answers: 1. Thanks but no.

2. Sure.

3. Not sure. Carl knows as he’s ordered the cake.

4. Stage 1 is looking awesome ahead of production. The episode is still in prep.

5. Trust me, you’re better off posting a comment here.

6. Great. Brad and Rob had a spotting session with Joel late last week.

Dovil writes: “I’m bitterly disappointed that Stargate Altantis: Glitter Ponies of Hope didn’t jump the last hurdle to be selected, though a two hour movie on SGA-1’s attempts to save the Spotted Owl from the brink of extinction does somewhat make up for it.”

Answer: Glitter Ponies of Hope was our first choice, but it was already taken for the SG-1 movie.

Georgia writes: “I came across ostrich eggs ($29.99 ea) and Vosges bacon chocolate. Ever try either?”

Answer: Haven’t tried ostrich eggs but have tried the Vosges applewood smoked bacon truffles (which, in my opinion, are better than the bars).

Chevron7 writes: “Joe, can you please give us a hint whether you’ve finished judging the Fans Choice bluray DVD cover contest?”

Answer: Sorry, I don’t even know what that is.

Davidd writes: “So, now that you have joined the Twitter masses, do you think you will ever get a Facebook account again?”

Answer: Correction. My dogs joined the twitter masses. They have no plans to get on Facebook however.

David Blue writes: “You know, in my defense:

I ran into Rob at work and told him about the party. He said he couldn’t go because he was having you over for dinner. So I decided not to tempt you to stand him up because you were so interested in coming to my tiny, small apartment instead.”

Answer: Well I feel doubly bad because I returned your apartment-warming gift on Sunday = a home theater system complete with reclining chairs and big screen. And before you complain that it wouldn’t have fit in your small apartment, you should know that it was the second part of your gift. The first part was an all-expenses paid rental of a mansion in Shaugnessy for the show’s entire run. Oh well.

Ytimyona writes: “Wow, Rob Cooper is truly a man of many talents… writer, director, cook! Is there anything RC can’t do?”

Answer: Brain surgery. At least not yet. We’ll find out for sure tomorrow when he removes Lawren’s basal ganglia.

Quade1 writes: “I heard that SGU Pilot was to air during summer followed by the rest of the season in the fall. Is this still the plan?”

Answer: Sorry, no. That was never the plan.

 

Recycled Funk writes: “I found this very enlightening blog post by Neil Gaiman, writer of the brilliant Sandman comics, where he discusses the relationship of blogging writers and their fans and the entitlement issues that sometimes develop (http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html). I’m not sure if you had come across it as well but I was wondering what your thoughts were on the subject. Since you are so visible on the web, do you think that sometimes fans can feel a little too entitled to your time and the next project, especially when it’s Stargate related?”Answer: I don’t think any fan is going to be pestering me for a release date on that short story – or any non Stargate-related project – anytime soon. Realistically, most of my blog regulars come for the Stargate, but stay for the snark, dog pics, and videos of me sampling strange food products. That said, I certainly do notice a sense of entitlement from certain fans who feel that online interaction should translate into some sort of working relationship. They bitterly complain when their hopes or desires regarding character or story aren’t realized, or adopt the attitude of a petulant child (Hello, Gate world’s Falcon Horus and G.O.D.) sulkily hating on anything and everything because they feel they’ve been personally sleighted by some creative decision made. Maintaining an internet presence has its rewards (as evidenced by the many, many wonderful people who frequent this blog) but it also makes you a convenient target for those terminal grumps seeking an outlet for their pent up aggression. And what better place than the arena of anonymity offered by the worldwide web.

 

Rachael writes: “ With the changes in the writer’s room in the past few months, I was wondering a) which writers were in the room for spinning the story for the movie, and b) if there were writers there at the time who are no longer on the SG writing team, would their departure affect the storyline at all (eg can’t use their ideas any more)?”

Answer: Back in November, Paul and I spun a general idea of what we wanted the SGA movie to be with Brad and Robert. Then, Paul and I went off and worked on the outline, pitching it back and forth between us until we had a pretty solid template. Paul wrote the first sixty pages and I wrote the last forty, although we did tweak one another’s passes.

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I Remember the Future

Since winning the John W. Campbell for Best New Writer in 1997, Michael A. Burstein has received multiple nominations for some of SF’s most prestigious awards, but has yet to take home either a Hugo or Nebula. Sure, on the surface this may seem like an “always the bridesmaid never the bride” situation but, truth be told, the fact that he has amassed so many nominations is an achievement in itself. And, while it’s unlikely that bridesmaid will show up at her friend’s wedding and end up getting married herself, it’s more than likely that, given Michael’s track record, he will, in time, score those elusive Hugos and Nebulas. He’s a “big idea” guy with a solid Physics background to draw from and a writing style reminiscent of SF’s Golden Age (specifically, Asimov comes to mind). I Remember the Future collects his award-nominated stories in one handy volume.

When it comes to anthologies, you always want to start strong, and we do just that with “Kaddish for the Last Survivor”. As the last Holocaust survivor faces his final hours, media outlets and Holocaust deniers descend on his home to mark the event. The dying man’s grand-daughter, Sarah, visits him for the last time and, following a heart-rending farewell, takes it upon herself to keep the memories of her people’s struggles alive. A wonderful story made all the more intriguing by the afterword in which the author offers up his original ending. In this early version, rather than choose to have the 110290 tattooed on her forearm, the number “slowly appeared on her arm, in the exact same position as it had been on her grandfather’s”. The decision was made to go with the alternate ending because it was argued that the original made the protagonist too passive. Initially, I agreed, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked that original ending for just that – the suggestion that Sarah innately bears the memories and history of her predecessors. Above all else, she is a part of her people and her people are a part of her.

In the second story, TeleAbsence, a boy from the inner city discovers hope and happiness in a virtual school environment after stealing the identity of one of the students. Although, stylistically, it reads like YA, it posits some very tough questions about our educational system, the ever-present line between the haves and the have-nots, and whether advancements in the field of education may only further the divide. Memorable characters in our eager protagonist Tony and his well-intentioned teacher Miss Ellis in a well-told and touching tale.

The third story, TelePresence, picks up many years later when Tony, now an adult, must solve a murder that has taken place in the virtual reality school setting. Again, some difficult questions are posited about the role of education in our society but, after the emotional strengths of the story preceding it, this one actually felt comparatively lightweight despite the murder mystery elements.

The next four stories – “Broken Symmetry”, “Absent Friends”, “Reality Check”, and “Empty Spaces” – form a series about the creation of a breach between parallel worlds and the effects it has on several individuals. This is a great example of the “big ideas” I referred to earlier as the author roots the story’s strange happenings firmly in the world of theoretical physics. Fascinating stuff although, like TelePresence, this series lacks the emotional resonance that typified the first two stories. Even though we’re told that Jack has been impacted by the loss of his friend and takes steps to recapture echoes of that friendship by risking all to travel to the alternate Earth, I was never wholly convinced. I think the big bump for me came in the second story, “Absent Friends”, when Jack (visitor to this alternate reality) meets Paula, almost passes out, quickly glosses over the incident, and then is asked out for dinner. The two meat at a restaurant and only then do we learn that she is suspicious of him. My initial reaction was: If you’re suspicious of this guy (and I certainly would be), why go to dinner with him? I had a tough time accepting her motivation and, as a result, never really got onboard.

Next up was “Spaceships” and this was one of my favorites. In a future where humanity has evolved past physical form, an entity known as Kel lives an isolated existence among his collection of spaceships – until he’s paid a visit by Ria, a mysterious being with a hidden agenda. More than any other, this entry had the feel of those SF classics I used to read. Great stuff.

“Decisions” was another solid entry, focusing on the cautious response of an advanced alien civilization to humanity’s burgeoning galactic presence. Another story pleasantly reminiscent of the grandmasters.

Clearly, Michael Burstein is a big fan of time-travel as evidenced by the next story, “Times Ablaze”, which focuses on one man’s journey back to turn of the century New York to make a record of a tragedy in which 1 021 victims perished aboard the steamship General Slocum. Of course, as is often the case when you dabble in time travel, the rules of non-interference become mere suggestions – especially when love comes into play. A solemn tale made all the more sobering by the fact that our protagonist journeys back in time to keep alive the memories of the victims of a tragedy all but forgotten today.

In “Seventy-five Year”, census information holds a surprising secret about one man’s past. Really. It turns out to be a subtle but effective critique of corporate copyright.

“Sanctuary” is a heavy-hitter, a story that tackles some huge contemporary hot-button issues by transplanting them to a near-future setting. In the story, an alien seeks sanctuary at a church to avoid giving up her unborn child. The priest caught in the center of a cultural dispute soon realizes that all is not as it seems and that he may well be a pawn in a much greater moral conflict.

In “I Remember the Future”, a dying writer discovers that there is an afterlife, one engendered by his own imagination, when characters from his fictions breach the wall between alternate realities to rescue him. Love the idea of creations brought to life, especially because, in the back of my mind, I’ve often imagined a similar scenario playing out (except instead of death it’s an extra-long notes session that Baron Destructo and the League of Aliens and Mutants for Evil are rescuing me from). Great story.

A return to theme of time travel in “Cosmic Corkscrew”, a tale in which our protagonist travels back to 1938 to meet his boyhood idol Isaac Asimov. Again, a wonderful premise, but the story hit a major bump for me halfway through and never really righted itself. Given everything our protagonist knows about the inherent dangers of time travel, he is incredibly sloppy in his conversation with the young Asimov, blundering into a critique of the Golden Age author’s theory of time travel that forces him to come clean about who he really is. This linchpin moment felt a little too narratively convenient and, thus, tough to dismiss.

Finally, the collection concludes with one of its strongest stories “Paying It Forward” in which a dying writer happens across the webpage of a deceased author and, on a lark, clicks on the email link and leaves a message. The next morning, he receives a response – seemingly from beyond the grave. Like “I Remember the Future”, this one resonated with me on a personal level, reminding me of the day I came across the webpage of Thomas M. Disch only days after his passing.

Overall, a solid collection with Michael A. Burstein’s story-telling skills and creativity on full display. That Nebula and/or Hugo is just around the corner.

So what did everyone else think? If you have questions or comments, I know that author Michael A. Burstein – who not only happens to be a big Stargate fan but a frequent visitor to this blog – would love to see them.  So start posting!

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