Where to hear me online: Gumbo Fiction Salon and open mic Thursday evening, May 13; and Tiny Bookcase podcast, available now

I’ll be reading a short story live at the Gumbo Fiction Salon on Thursday, May 13, which begins at 6:30 p.m. CDT. My story is about a princess who rescues dragons and battles the ultimate evil.

The show will start at 7 p.m., but it opens a half hour early for socializing and open mic sign-up. You can sign up for a 10-minute reading slot. More information is at the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/924025898432787/

It will take place on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83277758999, Meeting ID: 832 7775 8999, Passcode: MayGumbo

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Meanwhile, at the Tiny Bookcase, you can hear me read a flash fiction story. The Tiny Bookcase is a short story writing and interview podcast. In each episode, the hosts, Nico and Ben, and the guest write a story using a shared prompt, then read it. The prompt in this episode was “rebooting” and the stories were intense and fun. Mine is about a woman who cursed the sea, so the sea cursed her.

Listen to it here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1129067/8485183

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If you prefer to do your own reading, here’s some text related to my most recent novel, Immunity Index:

• At Uncanny Magazine, my guest blog post details “Five Reasons Not to Bring Back Woolly Mammoths.”

• Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together interviews me about Immunity Index.

Book launches for “Immunity Index” May 4 and 5

My next novel, Immunity Index, goes on sale May 4. It will have two virtual book launches.

Tuesday, May 4th, 7 to 9 p.m., @ Volumes Bookcafe. With Seanan McGuire!

Yes, award-winning author Seanan McGuire and I will talk about the novel, answer questions, and we’ll all have a lot of fun.

Tickets for this online event are free, but you can purchase a signed copy of Immunity Index as a ticket add-on. Sign up here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sue-burke-with-seanan-mcguire-tickets-151551290991

Volumes Bookcafe is a Chicago neighborhood independent bookstore café founded by two sisters who aimed to create a warm and inviting community space for book lovers of all ages.

Wednesday, May 5, @ A Room of One’s Own, 6 to 7 p.m.

Special guest will be Kit Rocha, the writing duo of Donna Harren and Bree Bridges, authors of the Mercenary Librarians series. A Room of One’s Own is a local, independent, feminist bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin, where much of Immunity Index takes place. Register here:

https://www.roomofonesown.com/event/virtual-conversation-sue-burke-author-immunity-index-and-kit-rocha

Room offers a wide selection of current and classic fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, local interest titles, gifts, toys, and greeting cards. It also has strong children’s and young adult, women’s studies, and LGBTQ fiction and nonfiction sections.

My story at Daily Science Fiction: “Magic Rules Zero Through Four”

My flash fiction story, “Magic Rules Zero Through Four” was just published by Daily Science Fiction! Only 475 words. Read it here:

https://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/magic-and-wizardry/sue-burke/magic-rules-zero-through-four

In the author story comments, I talk about what led to this story:

“My favorite words are but and what if. One day I thought about the way that the laws of thermodynamics begin with zero. What if magic had rules that started with zero, too? Our understanding of thermodynamics gives us great powers, but what powers would the rules of magic give us? This story offers one answer, but what if there are better answers?”

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My next novel, Immunity Index, goes on sale May 4.

“Myself and my circumstance”

José Ortega y Gasset. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

My novel, Immunity Index, available next month, opens with a quote from the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset: “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia y si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo.” I am myself and my circumstance, and if I do not save it, I do not save myself.

It appeared in a essay in the book Meditaciones del Quijote (Meditations on Quixote) published in 1914 when he lived in Madrid, Spain. In the essay, he posits that there can be no “I” without the external world, and he contrasts freedom and fate.

I’ve translated a portion of that essay here:

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We must look for our circumstance, such as it is, precisely in what it holds as limitation, as particularity, as the apt place in the immense perspective of the world — not to remain in constant rapture of its solemn ethos but to conquer the appropriate site for our individual life there. To be brief: the reabsorption of circumstance is humanity’s specific destiny.

My natural outlet toward the universe opens through the passes of the Guadarrama Mountains [northwest of Madrid] or the fields of Ontígola [to the southeast]. This sector of circumstantial reality forms the other half of my persona: only through it can I be integrated and be fully myself. Biological science now studies the living organism as a unit composed of the body and its particular medium: thus the vital process consists not only in the adaptation of the body to its medium but also in the adaptation of the medium to the body. The hand endeavors to shape a material object by grasping it tightly; but at the same time, each material object hides a previous affinity with a specific hand.

I am myself and my circumstance, and if I do not save it, I do not save myself. Benefac loco illi quo natus est [Bless the place where you are born], we read in the Bible. And in the Platonic school, as the enterprise of all culture, we are given this: “to save the appearances” or the phenomena. That is, looking for the meaning of what surrounds us.

With our eyes schooled by a map of the world, we ought to return to the Guadarrama Mountains. Perhaps we will find nothing profound there. But we may be sure that the shortcoming and sterility result from our gaze. There is a logos as well in the Manzanares River: this most humble rivulet, this liquid irony that moistens the groundworks of our city, beyond a doubt carries among its few drops of water a drop of spirituality.

For there is nothing in the world without a thread of divine sinew: the difficulty rests in reaching it and making it contract. Heraclitus shouted to his friends who hesitated to enter the kitchen where he was: “Come in! Come in! There are gods here too.” […]

Nothing impedes heroism — which is the activity of the spirit — as much as considering it attached to certain specific substances of life. Wherever heroism might subsist below ground, every person needs to hope that if they vigorously strike the ground beneath their feet, a spring will gush forth. For Moses, the hero, every rock was a source of water.

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Immunity Index goes on sale May 4. You can order an autographed copy through Volumes Bookcafé.

My Goodreads review of “Middlegame” by Seanan McGuire

Middlegame (Middlegame, #1)Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beware of alchemists, if alchemy is real in your universe. It can permit access to unlimited power, and while power might not corrupt, it can reveal deeply corrupt personalities.

This long but never slow novel centers around two people, not corrupt, who were created as a very corrupt alchemist’s experiment to manipulate the universe. What could go wrong? In Seanan McGuire’s capable hands, a lot. Human beings, even artificial ones, resist control. They will resist before they know what they are, and they will resist even harder after they find out what they can do.

From the first page, the story is told with urgent, evocative prose. “Timeline: five minutes too late, thirty seconds from the end of the world. There is so much blood.” Exactly what too late means becomes more clear as the story develops and adds successive layers of complications and depth.

This novel won major awards and nominations for a reason. It might break your heart — and it might make your heart full. Spoiler: it is not the end of the world. This time.

View all my reviews