MABFAN NEWSLETTER # 1 (December 1996)

The newsletter for fans and friends of Michael A. Burstein


Welcome to the first ever issue of the MABFAN NEWSLETTER, dedicated to letting you know when stories of mine are about to published and any other news happening in my so-called writing career. I know that this sort of thing might be construed as egotistical, but I am pleased to see that more than eighty of you signed up to receive these electronic newsletters, realizing what they really are -- a chance for me to let people who might actually care about my stories know when they are available, so you can find them in your local bookstore or newsstand. (After all, the shelf life of short fiction tends to be ephemeral at best.) It took me a while to decide if I wanted to do this as a simple announcement or a newsletter, but I decided on a newsletter format for two reasons:

1. They're more fun to write, and

B. They should be less frequent, thus keeping your mailbox more uncluttered.

Anyway, before we get started with announcements, I've decided to thank all of you charter subscribers by announcing the first MABFAN NEWSLETTER contest. You see, I like the name MABFAN but feel it's a little inaccurate, as I'd like to think that a lot of you out there are more friends than fans, since I doubt I have much of a following yet. It seems to me that MABFAN makes a good acronym, but I'm not sure for what. "Michael A. Burstein Friends And N_____ Newsletter?" Or maybe "Michael A. Burstein Friends A______ Newsletter?" Anyway, that's the contest. Come up with a good phrase for the acronym MABFAN, that works as a newsletter title. Send it to me at I'll pick my favorite, and the winner will receive free an autographed copy of the February 1997 ANALOG with "Broken Symmetry" in it.

And speaking of "Broken Symmetry," it's probably time to get to the heart of the newsletter.


"Broken Symmetry," my first novelette, is my tribute to all the physicists who worked on the Superconducting Supercollider project, or SSC, and had hoped to make it a reality before the Congress killed it. At some point in the near future, the abandoned underground ring starts hiccupping with explosions, which causes the local authorities to call in the director of the abandoned project, Roy Schwitters. What's going on with the old experiment? Ah, that's the key... Look for this story in the February 1997 ANALOG, which should be available starting around the middle of December (although the official publication date is December 31). You should be able to find it at your local independent SF bookstore (preferred, of course), or any of the large chain bookstores. The issue also features a Biolog of me, written by Jay Kay Klein.

(By the way, some of you may recognize that Roy Schwitters is the name of the real director of the SSC project, before it lost its funding. Dr. Schwitters did me the great honor of allowing me to use him as a character in my story.)

Then, in the March 1997 issue of ANALOG, read my humorous short-short "Heisenberg's Magazine," and find out just what happens when a science fiction writer visits his editor on the day the magazine's staff has moved to new offices. Everything's hectic, of course, and things are disappearing right and left, including the restaurant where the editor wishes to take the writer out to lunch. The implications for the career of this writer, at least, are staggering...

Those of you who actually know me are aware that I would probably consider myself more of a hard science fiction writer than anything else, since that's the type of fiction I like most. And yet, my next two stories to be published, believe it or not, will be horror. That's right, horror.

The first, "The Spider in the Hairdo," will appear in the Baen Books anthology BENEATH THE NIGHT, edited by Josepha Sherman and Keith DeCandido, and to be published in early 1997. This is a collection of dark fanatsy stories based on urban legends, and if you're unfamiliar with the urban legend I've adapted, trust me, it's pretty disgusting. In an odd way, though, the story is also SF, as the spider of my title is actually an alien...

The other, "Hunger," is my only contribution to a collection of really short pieces called 365 SCARY STORIES (or maybe A HORROR STORY A DAY) and scheduled to be published directly to the Barnes & Noble bargain tables in August 1997. I still can't get away from my SF roots, though, even with this story, which answers the following question: what happens to a vampire that has himself cryogenically frozen for one thousand years? As Rodolfo the vampire finds out in 750 words, the future is no picnic. (Subtle pun intended.)

Finally, I have two more pieces appearing soon, but both pieces are nonfiction. Still, in case anyone's interested, I thought I'd mention them here.

The first article, "Worldcon, the Hugo, and Me," is about my experiences being a Hugo and Campbell nominee at my first Worldcon, L.A.con III, which took place over Labor Day weekend in 1996. The article appears in the fanzine MIMOSA, and as opposed to other magazines, fanzines usually can't be found in your local bookstore but have to be ordered directly from the editor. MIMOSA is a very good fanzine, a Hugo winner a few years back, so if you decide to get a copy you'll be able to read a bunch of other excellent articles on fannish history and customs. To order, send a check for $4 to Dick & Nicki Lynch, P.O. Box 1350, Germantown, MD 20875, and ask for the latest issue, #19, with my article in it. Tell them I sent you.

The other article, "Science Fiction That Sells," was a commissioned piece that appeared in the October 1996 issue of THE WRITER, in which I analyzed my first published story, "TeleAbsence," to figure out what made it work. The reason I list it here is because they have decided to reprint the article in THE WRITER'S HANDBOOK 1997, edited by Sylvia Burack, and to be published in January. The handbooks come out every year and are usually thick hardcovers chock full of good articles on how to write, in all sorts of genres and fields, as well as a market report. If you're an aspiring writer and want to see how I managed to earn a Hugo nomination with my first published story, you can find the book in your bookstore's Writing Reference section.


As if anyone out there actually cares about where I'll show up, but...

Nomi and I plan to make to a whole bunch of science fiction conventions in 1997. Our itinerary should include:

Arisia '97 (Boston, MA; January 10-12, 1997)

Boskone 34 (Framingham, MA; February 14-16, 1997)

Lunacon '97 (Rye Brook, NY; March 7-9, 1997)

Balticon 31 (Baltimore, MD; March 28-30, 1997)

Readercon 9 (Westborough, MA; July 11-13, 1997)

and hopefully some more after that. I usually do panels and try to arrange to do readings as well, and I plan to give away one signed copy of the story I read from at each reading to one of the attendees, as a bonus to anyone who actually shows up.


As a lot of you probably already know, my first story, "TeleAbsence," was voted the winner of the 1995 Analytical Laboratory Award for Best Short Story, voted upon by the readers of ANALOG. It was also nominated for the Hugo Award, losing by only ten votes, and it got me nominated for the John Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Those two awards are both voted upon each year by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention, which anyone can join.

In addition, I am pleased to note that the readers of the on-line webzine SCIENCE FICTION WEEKLY voted me the 1996 Best New Writer in their Reader Appreciation Awards, a poll which they based on the Hugo ballot. (Perhaps putting "TeleAbsence" on my webpage helped, as I only lost in their Short Story category by one vote.) Furthermore, when I got back to my job teaching at the Cambridge School of Weston, a bunch of students, sorry I had lost the Hugo, presented their own award to me in front of the entire school at assmebly. I am extremely pleased to announce that "TeleAbsence" won the 1996 CSW Bug-Eyed Critter Award, which is an adorable Alien in Spaceship puppet. Beats a Hugo rocket any day.


This section is devoted to the fact that I am, after all, a fan of science fiction as well as a writer, and that there are always other books and things I'd like to recommend to others. I almost thought of justifying this section with a phrase like, "If you like my stuff, you'll probably like this too," but I haven't written enough stuff to make such a broad generalization. So let's begin.

First of all, I am very pleased to note that my wife is about to have her first piece of fanzine writing published in PROPER BOSKONIAN, the fanzine published by the New England Science Fiction Association, of which we are both members. I've actually had two articles published in PB myself, and this was going to be my third, but I found I didn't have the time and Nomi realized that she could do a far better job than I could. The article about the literary influences in the television show BABYLON 5, and if you'd like to get a copy of the fanzine with the article, just send a check for $3 to NESFA, P.O. Box 809, Framingham, MA 01701-0203, with attention to NESFA Sales, and ask for issue #38, the December 1996 issue. Tell them I sent you.

Speaking of BABYLON 5, that's another thing I'd like to plug. This is one of the best shows on television today, with incredible storylines and a wonderful mythic structure, as Nomi's article (mentioned above) makes clear. We make sure to catch it each week, and if you like good science fiction, this is not to be missed.

I would be remiss if I didn't push something literary on you, and this issue's author of choice is Robert Sawyer. In the past few years, Sawyer has become _the_ hot new hard SF novelist. His novel THE TERMINAL EXPERIMENT (HarperPrism, 1995), about a scientist who discovers proof of the human soul, won the Nebula Award, and his latest, STARPLEX (Ace, 1996), is one of the most mind-bending, galaxy-spanning stories I have ever read. Go out right now and buy these two books at your local bookstore if you haven't read them yet. I'm so sure you'll enjoy them that I will literally buy them off of you if you decide you didn't like them.

Finally, a recommendation to those of you who aspire to write SF as well as read it. One of the most helpful magazines I've been reading from the beginning is SPECULATIONS, edited and published by Kent Brewster. This bimonthly magazine is chock full of excellent articles and timely market reports which they even send out on the months the magazine isn't published, as interim issues. If you think you might want to try it out, drop a note to Kent Brewster at 1111 West El Camino Real, Suite 109- 400, Sunnyvale, CA 94087-1057, asking to see a free interim issue. Or send him $4 for a sample real issue, with articles and everything. Subscriptions in the U.S. are only $25 for a year, and if you do decide to check it out, again, tell him I sent you.


The mabfan list is a moderated list which exists solely to send out copies of this newsletter. Should you wish to unsubscribe from this list, simply send e-mail to with the words

unsubscribe mabfan

in the body of the message and the software should automatically unsubscribe you. (If it doesn't work, I'll do it myself, no hard feelings.)

Contrariwise, if you wish to subscribe, send me e-mail at and I'll add you in by hand.

For more frequent news, or to read some of the stuff I've written, check out my webpage at

-- Michael A. Burstein

Click here to return to my webpage.