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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
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20th-Jan-2018 02:18 pm - [sticky post] "Semiosis" has its own site

If you’re here because I wrote the novel Semiosis, welcome!

You might also enjoy the website devoted entirely to the novel with scenes and information that didn’t make it into the book, associated fiction and essays, the full Constitution, and a blog.

You can find it here:


Chris Urie of Clarkesworld Magazine asked me about what inspired the novel Semiosis, the biology of some of the aliens in the story, and my favorite Spanish saying.

You can read it here, at Clarkesworld.

— Sue Burke
15th-Jan-2018 09:56 am - A sneak peek at “Semiosis”
Will you like my novel Semiosis? Here’s one way to decide.

Tor has posted Chapter 1 as a sneak peek. You can read it here:


— Sue Burke
10th-Jan-2018 09:29 am - 2017 publications
Here is my fiction published last year, in case you want to read or nominate anything. They’re both online:

“Who Won the Battle of Arsia Mons?”
Novelette. Robots fight it out on Mars.
Clarkesworld Magazine, November 2017.

“With Wings of Intent”
Flash fiction. A steer rebels against his fate as beef.
Every Day Fiction, June 16, 2017.

I also translated these stories, available for purchase and nomination.

“The Story of Your Heart,” by Josué Ramos
People can get transplants to fix or to improve themselves, or they can be donors, by force or by choice.
Steampunk Writers Around the World, Volume I
Luna Press Publishing, August 2017. This story has already been nominated for the British Science Fiction Association Awards.

“Francine (draft for the September lecture),” by Maria Antónia Marti Escayol
Renée Descartes’s daughter dies, and he and his fellow scientists try to bring her back to life, in accordance with 17th-century science.
“Wake Up and Dream, by Josué Ramos
An old man, revived from cryosleep, tries to grow accustomed to a now-distopic Madrid, although something has gone strangely wrong.
“Tis a Pity She Was a Whore,” by Juan Manuel Santiago
The music of David Bowie during cancer chemotherapy results in a divergent reality.
All three are in Supersonic Magazine, Issue 9, December 2017. Buy it at Amazon for only $2.99, and at Lektu.

In addition, I translated this poem, available online:

“Duffel” by Fernando Cuartas
The street that tells the story of a city.
Surreal Poetics, August 2017.

With a partner, Christian Law, I translated these poems. The issue is available for purchase and contains a delightful variety of works:

“Twilight in Poley,” “Books,” “Hymn I,” and “Hymn III, by Vicente Núñez
Núñez was one of the most daring and important poets of Andalusia, Spain, in the second half of the 20th century.
The Northwest Review of Books Issue 1: Literature in Translation, July 2017.

I’ve been working on the translation of Amadis of Gaul for years as a blog, and I finally finished in May. The texts are being compiled for purchase in paperback and ebook:

Amadis of Gaul, by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo
This novel, a masterpiece of medieval fantasy, drove Don Quixote mad. What will it do to you?
Online here.

Finally, here are a couple of articles that offer what I hope is helpful advice, gleaned from experience:

Minimalist plotting
Are you a plotter or pantser? An architect or gardener? Do you plan and outline your writing projects, or do you just start writing and see what grows? Perhaps you can do both.
Red Sofa Literary Agency blog 2017 NaNoWriMo series.

Crowdfunding for literary translations
Crowdfunding isn’t easy money, but a successful campaign brings you more than funds.
Intralingo blog, January 31, 2017.

— Sue Burke
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the WorldThe Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Journalist Michael Pollan brings a gardener’s eye to four plants to reveal our human relationship to the vegetable kingdom, and how these plants fulfill our desires – or not.

These days the apple appeals to our sweet tooth, but Johnny Appleseed spread orchards for cider, specifically hard cider. The tulip shows how foolish we are with money, and how plants might fail to cooperate with our greed. Marijuana, on the other hand, seems quite willing to help us get high. Finally, the potato shows how far we’re willing to go to try to control farming, and this is the most disturbing chapter. Our efforts at control are bound to fail, perhaps catastrophically, as they have in the past.

Pollan takes a very personal look at these plants, tracing the route of Johnny Appleseed with an evangelistic guide. He muses on the tulips growing in his own garden and on his personal encounters with marijuana. As an experiment, he grows genetically engineered potatoes in his back yard.

His fondness for plants shines through his words, even as he sometimes meanders around the subject. Still, if you’re interested in the interrelationship between humans and plants, you’ll learn something.

View all my reviews
1st-Jan-2018 10:35 am - Supersonic magazine #9: now on sale
Keep Calm
Here’s your chance to read seven short stories by some of the most talented Spanish and Spanish-American authors, plus two interviews and two articles about some of the latest news and trends in Spain's SF, fantasy and horror literature landscape.

I translated three of the stories:

“Francine (draft for the September lecture),” by Maria Antònia Marti Escayol
Renée Descartes’s daughter dies, and he and his fellow scientists attempt to bring her back to life in accordance with 17th-century science. This is steampunk of an exhilarating sort.

“Wake Up and Dream," by Josué Ramos
In this deeply humanistic story, an old man, revived from cryosleep, tries to grow accustomed to a now-distopic Madrid, although something has gone strangely wrong.

“Tis a Pity She Was a Whore,” by Juan Manuel Santiago
The music of David Bowie during cancer chemotherapy results in a divergent reality. The story, not entirely fiction, was originally written for a special David Bowie anthology Whitestar, a fundraiser for the Spanish Association in the Fight Against Cancer.

Get a glimpse of what’s going on outside of the English language in genre writing.

Available at Amazon for only $2.99, and at Lektu.

— Sue Burke
Keep Calm
The English language has its share of words of 2017:

youthquake according to the Oxford Dictionaries, due to the voting patterns in the UK’s June general election;
complicit, according to Dictionary.com, due to three spikes of interest in the word related to US politics; and
feminism, according to Merriam-Webster, again due to spikes of interest related to US politics, as well as to the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale and the movie Wonder Woman, and to the #MeToo revelations of widespread sexual harassment in the workplace, which have come as a shock to absolutely everyone except women and girls.

In Spain, the Fundéu BBVA provides recommendations for grammar and usage for “urgent Spanish,” that is, words and expressions related to the news. Its 2017 word of the year is aporofobia, a newly coined word for fear, rejection, and aversion to poor people.

The word was introduced by Adela Cortina, a philosopher in Valencia, Spain, in several articles in the press calling attention to the idea that the apparent rejection of people due to their race or status as immigrants or refugees, is really due to their poverty. “It’s necessary to give a name to a phenomena that exists and is corrosive,” she said.

“Sadly,” said the director of the Fundéu BBVA, Joaquín Muller, “aporofobia has been in the news throughout 2017 due to the drama of immigration in different parts of the world, the impoverishment of large parts of society in many countries … and the attitude of some leaders and citizens. These attitudes clearly show rejection and aversion to poor people and to poverty.”

Fundéu BBVA’s runners-up for 2017 are: aprendibilidad (learnability), bitcóin (bitcoin), destripe (spoiler, as in a movie review), machoexplicación (mansplaining), noticias falsas (fake news), odiador (hater), soñadores (dreamers), superbacteria (superbacteria), trans (trans, as in “transgender”), turismofobia (fear of tourism: Spain gets a lot of tourists, perhaps too many), and uberización (Uberization).

Last year, the word of the year for Fundéu was populismo (populism), and in 2015, refugiado (refugee). Some issues capture world-wide attention and some are local, and they all mark our languages as they develop and change. This year’s words have had a decidedly political focus.

— Sue Burke
27th-Dec-2017 09:10 am - Goodreads giveaway of “Semiosis”
Let me see..
If you’re on Goodreads, you can enter a giveaway for a copy of my novel, Semiosis.

Fine print: Enter by January 8. Good only in US and Canada.

The novel will be released on February 6, 2018.

Good luck!

— Sue Burke
20th-Dec-2017 09:39 am - Your father’s first Christmas
I wrote this piece as a Christmas present for my nephew in 2004.

This is your first Christmas, Sean, and since you're only eight months old, I know this story might not impress you much, but it seems like the right time to tell it.

Your father was not quite three months old on his first Christmas, and I was ten years old. I knew enough about babies to know they don't really do much at first, but eventually they grow into real people. That was the exciting puzzle. What was this new baby brother going to be like? We didn't have many clues, but we watched for them all the time. Who was Louis Peter Burke?

Your Grandmother Burke died well before you were born, so you don't know much about her. Here is her Christmas tree decorating theory: More is better. In architectural terms, it was rococo baroque.

During Christmas Eve day, we decorated the tree. First the lights went on — big lights, small lights, steady lights, twinkle lights, colored lights, white lights, all the lights we had, and there were plenty. Second, we hung every single ornament we had on the tree, and, again, there were plenty. If one was ugly or beat up, it went way on the inside where it could add color or sparkle without really being visible. The only rule was smaller stuff on top, bigger stuff on the bottom. Finally, we added tinsel and garlands of various types and colors to be sure there was maximum sparkle.

Then we waited for nightfall, since only a darkened house could do justice to the masterpiece that we had created.

Meanwhile, we dressed your father in a red-and-white-striped elf-costume pajama set that an aunt had given him, complete with a pointy cap. He didn't care for the cap but we made him wear it anyway, at least long enough for a photo, which may still be around somewhere. He looked more silly than elfish. He certainly had no idea about what was going on. He was too little to understand much of anything.

The moment to light the tree arrived. We turned out all the lamps and closed the front curtains to block the streetlight. With a flip of a switch, and the tree flashed on, providing enough sparkling light to read by.

Your father's eyes got big and he couldn't take them off the tree. He liked it! He liked it a lot! Even when we turned the regular room lights back on, he continued to stare at the tree, fascinated.

It was a clue, the first clue I remember, about your father's personality. He liked colorful, beautiful things — at least, we thought the tree was beautiful, and in a rococo way, it certainly was. We lit the tree for him throughout the holidays for the sheer fun of watching him enjoy it.

I don't remember much else about that Christmas, like what I got as presents, what anyone else got, whether there was snow, or what we had for Christmas dinner. All I remember is the intense look of surprise and delight on your father's little face, and how merry a Christmas he made it for all of us because we could make him happy, and because we had learned a little bit about him.

Finding out who someone is takes a long time. I'm still learning things about my brother Louis. Fatherhood, for example, has revealed new aspects of his personality and interests. In the same delighted way that I first saw so many years ago, he could not be more curious and excited to learn about you. Who is Sean Patrick Burke?

This is your father's first Christmas with you. I hope it is merry.

Copyright © 2004 by Sue Burke, all rights assigned to Sean Patrick Burke.
13th-Dec-2017 09:11 am - Windycon 44 review
Let me see..
I attended Windycon 44 in November, 2017, and wrote a review for Alexiad fanzine. You can read it at my professional writing website, sueburke.site.

— Sue Burke
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