Back in December, I entered a competition over at the podcast The Chronic Rift, which is devoted to discussion on the latest in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic art. They were looking for a script to turn into an audio drama, and I thought that my Hugo-nominated short story "Decisions" (Analog, January/February 2004) might work well as an audio drama.

So, relying heavily on The Complete Book of Scriptwriting by J. Michael Straczynski, I sat down with a copy of the manuscript of "Decisions" and adapted it into an audio play. An audio play has different requirements from a short story to work properly. It may seem obvious, but to write an audio play, you have to imagine how the listeners are going to paint a picture of the action in their minds using nothing but sound. In his book, Straczynski gives an example of a television scene in which George shoots Frank, and points out that if you closed your eyes and listened to the scene the way it was presented, you could come away with the impression that Frank shot George.

I felt "Decisions" lent itself to the audio treatment for a few reasons. First of all, there were only four main characters, so it wouldn't be hard for the listener to keep track of them all. Secondly, there weren't that many different locales in the story, so once again I wouldn't have to set up too much for the listener. And finally, I felt that it was a tight little story with a lot of tension between characters that lent itself well to the audio treatment.

I had a lot of fun imagining "Decisions" as an audio play, and now here's your chance to decide for yourself if I succeeded. It's been produced by John S. Drew of The Chronic Rift, with an all-star cast, including Keith R.A. DeCandido, Andrea K. Lipinski, Orenthal V. Hawkins, Judith Furnari, and Jay Smith.

If you click on The Chronic Rift: Spotlight – Michael A. Burstein's Decisions you can listen to the episode. (ETA: Old link was here; no longer works.)

And then you can add a comment at The Chronic Rift: Spotlight – Michael A. Burstein's Decisions Forum Discussion and you can rate the episode here.

Enjoy. Let me know what you think.
mabfan: (book-cover)
The 2008 Roundtable Awards have been announced, and I am very pleased to note that the nominees in the Best Short Story category include both "Empty Spaces" and "I Remember the Future."

What this means is that I Remember the Future has now truly earned its subtitle, "The Award-Nominated Stories of Michael A. Burstein." Because the two new stories have now been nominated for an award, every story in the book is now an award nominee, with the exception of "Absent Friends." ("Absent Friends" is included because it bridges the other three stories in the "Broken Symmetry" series.)

I'm also amused to note that "The release of I Remember the Future" was nominated in their Best Thing of 2008 category. Certainly, it was probably the best thing of 2008 for me personally....

I would like to thank the voters in the Roundtable Awards, which is sponsored by the podcast The Chronic Rift, for their nominations. I'm honored to be up against stories by my friends Terri Osborne and Ian Randal Strock.

To see a list of all nominees in all categories, check out The 2008 Roundtable Award Nominees and listen to the podcast.

(ETA: I forgot to note that the book also got nominated in their "Best Anthology of Short Stories" category. So that's a total of four nominations for the book.)
I mentioned before that over the weekend, Nomi and I had a house guest.

Our house guest was Troy Rutter, a friend whom I've known for almost fifteen years now.

Troy Rutter Troy Rutter
Photo copyright ©2007 by Nomi S. Burstein.

Troy was one of my earliest Internet friends, someone I met first online before we ever met in person. We've actually only been in each other's company twice; we met briefly in person in 1996, and that was it until this past weekend. We met through early Babylon 5 fandom, which in his case led to a job at Warner Bros. Online producing the Official Babylon 5 Web Site. (And to Troy owning a really cool jacket.)

Troy Rutter's Babylon 5 Jacket Troy Rutter's Babylon 5 Jacket
Photo copyright ©2007 by Nomi S. Burstein.

Since then, he's had an eclectic career. He's been a programmer, a writer, and an actor (a member of SAG with full privileges). He's published a book, "Kids in the Biz," with lots of advice and guidance for families with children working in Hollywood. Troy is, as the kids say, teh awesome.

Troy was in town for PodCamp Boston 2 (in fact, he was one of sponsors of the event). When I first heard Troy bemoaning the high cost of hotel rooms in Boston for that weekend, I asked Nomi if we could offer him crash space on our sofa. She agreed, which is how we ended up hosting him. Although because he was busy all weekend, we really didn't see much of him. He showed up Friday night and was gone Saturday morning before we even woke up. Saturday night we saw him again, but once more when the morning rolled around he had vanished into the podcasting ether.

Why was he at a podcasting convention? Glad you asked. Troy hosts the Rutter's Ramblings podcast, and a more interesting podcast you're unlikely to find. Troy is a fascinating person to me, because he is the Other, and by definition the Other is exotic. He grew up in Ames, Iowa, one of those places that I would guess is about as different from New York City as you can get. He's opinionated, but he's intelligent, and he's always willing to listen to other opinions and engage in friendly, constructive debate. If you're looking for something to listen to on your mp3 player, I highly recommend trying out Troy.

Troy, let's not let another 11 years pass before we see each other again...

Michael A. Burstein, Troy Rutter Michael A. Burstein, Troy Rutter
Photo copyright ©2007 by Nomi S. Burstein.

For those of you unfortunate enough to miss Jasper Fforde's appearances, here's an opportunity to get a little flavor of what it's like being in his audience. The Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast episode for August 3 features an interview with Jasper Fforde. You can find the podcast at the following link:

Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast Episode 36: Ffan-Ffording-Tastic!"

As I mentioned recently, I was just interviewed for a podcast.

Paul Levinson, who does the Light On Light Through podcast among others, decided to devote Episode 17, released on Saturday 1/13/07, to the status of Pluto. Paul asked me if I would be willing to come on in my capacity as the president of the Society for the Preservation of Pluto as a Planet to discuss what the International Astronomical Union did to Pluto and what might happen next.

Even if you've read some of what I've written before on the subject, you might want to download the podcast, since Paul does a good job of asking the questions that are on everyone's mind. You can click on the link above, or you can go directly to Light On Light Through: What on Earth Are They Doing to Poor Pluto?. Both SF Signal and Locus picked up the news for their "SF Tidbits" and "Blinks" sections respectively, so I guess it has some significance.

Also, on the podcast, I make the first public announcement regarding the lineup we have for "The Great Pluto Debate!" taking place at the Clay Center Observatory in Brookline, Massachusetts on the afternoon of February 4. I'll be posting more about this soon, but if you download the podcast, you'll get the news sooner.
As those of you who read [ profile] gnomi's journal might recall, recently I had a medical procedure that laid me up for a day or two.

Because I wasn't going to be in the mood to read during those days, Nomi and I decided it was time to join the iPod generation. We had resisted buying iPods for these past five years, primarily because we didn't see any need to own them. (I define "need" here in the way that we discovered we "needed" cell phones. They went from being a luxury item that didn't seem necessary to something that we now rely on daily. Lots of technology is like that; before you acquire it, you have no idea why you would want it; afterwards, you wonder how you lived without it. But I digress.)

So now that I have an iPod, I decided to explore a world that heretofore I had mostly ignored: podcasting.

I have discovered the joy of podcasts. Forget music; I'm loading my iPod with podcasts, and whiling away the empty minutes with content. (It's amazing how much more productive I'm becoming at work when I have something for my ears to do.)

Here's a list of the podcasts I have started subscribing to:

60-Second Science
A Way With Words
Adventures in SciFi Publishing
Ask Lev
Comic News Insider
Escape Pod
Futurismic Audio
Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Levinson news clips
Light On Light Through
New Scientist Podcast
NPR: On Words with John Ciardi
NPR: Sunday Puzzle
NPR: Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Science Friday -- Making Science Radioactive
Science Talk: The Podcast of Scientific American
Slice of Scifi -- Science Fiction TV & Movie News, Interviews, & more
The 9th -- A Heroes Podcast
The Babylon Podcast
The Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy

I considered making each of those titles a link to the podcast, but then realized that would take me too long. So if you're interested in tracking down any of those podcasts, I'd suggest searching on Google or in the iTunes store. Chances are you'll find them.

You may have noticed that the podcasts I started with lean heavily towards some of my usual interests -- science fiction, writing, words, puzzles, and comic books. What I did find interesting is that three of the podcasts listed -- Ask Lev, Levinson news clips, and Light On Light Through -- are all recorded by my old friend Paul Levinson. Paul's a professor of communications at Fordham University, a science fiction writer, and a former president of SFWA, and he always has interesting things to share. I got in touch with him to tell him that I've started listening to his podcasts, and he asked if he could interview me for a future episode of Light on Light Through. So I'll be speaking to him tonight, and making my own haphazard way into the podosphere. (If "podosphere" is even a word.)

Now, even though I'm subscribing to a lot of podcasts, and am unlikely to ever have time to listen to them all, my iPod is still hungry for content. So if anyone out there has a favorite podcast or twelve that you'd like to recommend, do let me know.

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