Sue Burke

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Sue Burke

Goodreads Author

in Milwaukee, The United States



Member Since
February 2012


I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, lived briefly in Austin, Texas, y'all, and moved with my husband to Madrid, Spain, in December 1999. Then back to the US, specifically Chicago, in July 2016.

I've worked for forty years as a journalist, both as a reporter and editor, and I translate from Spanish to English.

I also write poetry, essays, and fiction, especially science fiction.

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Popular Answered Questions

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Sue Burke Hi Ben,
Yes, I see now I missed the chance for a good plot twist.
The Glassmakers left because they were failing to thrive and hoped that returning to…more
Hi Ben,
Yes, I see now I missed the chance for a good plot twist.
The Glassmakers left because they were failing to thrive and hoped that returning to their nomadic lifestyle would solve the problem. If they had hung on a little longer, Stevland would have figured out how to help them, but they didn't know that, and they didn't understand him well enough even to say goodbye. Besides that, nomadic life didn't solve the problem.
But now that you mention it, I could have made it more dramatic....

Sue Burke My sister-in-law invented the fippokat in grade school, and she gave the imaginary animal its name. She no longer recalls why she gave it that name --…moreMy sister-in-law invented the fippokat in grade school, and she gave the imaginary animal its name. She no longer recalls why she gave it that name -- it's one of those things lost to childhood. I first learned about it one Christmas when she made a cookie in the shape of a fippokat, sprinkled with green sugar, and she graciously gave me permission to use and abuse the animal in my story.

So I'm sorry there's no reason for the name besides childhood whimsy.(less)
Average rating: 3.89 · 2,284 ratings · 457 reviews · 29 distinct works

3.90 avg rating — 1,916 ratings — published 2018 — 12 editions
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Normalized Death

3.33 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2008
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Year's Best SF 14

3.74 avg rating — 214 ratings — published 2009 — 10 editions
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3.83 avg rating — 35 ratings — published 1994 — 4 editions
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SuperSonic #5

3.92 avg rating — 26 ratings — published 2016
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Asimov's Science Fiction, D...

3.65 avg rating — 20 ratings — published 2014
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Clarkesworld Magazine, Issu...

3.58 avg rating — 19 ratings — published 2017 — 3 editions
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Broad Spectrum: The 2012 Br...

4.31 avg rating — 13 ratings — published 2012 — 2 editions
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The Darkest Thirst: A Vampi...

3.40 avg rating — 15 ratings — published 1998
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Whispered from the Grave: A...

4.25 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 1999
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More books by Sue Burke…
The Meaning of the First World WarThe Meaning of the First World War by René Albrecht-Carrié

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since this brief book was originally written for the 50th anniversary of World War I, it is in itself a historical artifact. But more than that makes it worthwhile.

Albrecht-Carrié does not try to place blame for the start of the war. Instead, “the little Eurasian peninsula that was Europe, which had conquered the... Read more of this blog post »
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Published on November 12, 2018 13:36 • 7 views

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Sue’s Recent Updates

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
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La noche del inocente by Angélica Gorodischer
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Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
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Murderbot becomes more comfortable in its human disguise. It sits on human furniture (something forbidden to SecUnits), looks people in the eye, and even gives a hug! It also realizes that it’s learned a lot about a wide variety of things, and it put ...more
Sue Burke rated a book it was amazing
The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer
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Can war be avoided? The whole book tries to answer that question. And if war must come because the will to battle is too deeply decided, then who will fight whom and why?

This is a philosophic third act, at times a bit tough going as everyone gets the
Sue Burke is now following Guillaume Boisset and Allie Riley
Semiosis by Sue Burke
"Idealists fed up with humanity’s violence and decadence flee Earth, end up on planet Pax many light years away, and start colonizing. Life is rough and the humans quickly end up forming symbiotic alliances with supremely intelligent and powerful s..." Read more of this review »
" I could tell that Mycroft was an unreliable narrator, but the size of his lies, revealed about halfway through the book, changed everything -- or that ...more "
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Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
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More of Sue's books…
“You must control bugs,” I say. “Bugs no eat fruit,” it answers. In other words, how can you control an animal except with fruit? “Change sap for bugs. Like this.” I show a chemical. “Sap will control animals.” “Bugs no eat fruit.” “Bugs drink sap.” “Yes,” it says. “Bugs no eat fruit.” “Change sap for bugs because bugs drink sap, no eat fruit.” “Bugs no eat fruit.” I realize that we are related plants, both bamboos, in fact, and our shared physiology is the only reason I can have a conversation of any complexity. The hedge along the river is too small to have many sentient roots. The presence of other snow vines triggers an aggressive growth, but this hedge has lived alone and is content to lead a manicured little life parasitizing its aspens and putting down more guard roots than it needs, thus serving the humans without realizing it. It has no need for intelligence, none at all. “Change sap for bugs,” I repeat, hoping that repetition will of itself prove persuasive. “Big animals eat bugs.” “Bugs no eat fruit.” “Big animals eat bugs.” “Big animals eat bugs,” the snow vine repeats. I have made progress. “Yes,” I say. “Change sap for bugs.” “Big animals eat bugs.” “Yes. Change sap for bugs. Like this.” “Bugs eat sap,” it says. “Bugs are pests.” “Bugs are good. Big animals eat bugs like fruit.” The snow vine stammers some meaningless chemical compounds and finally says, “Bugs are like fruit.” This is very significant progress. “Bugs are like fruit,” I agree. “Bugs eat sap. Change sap. Sap will control two animals.” “Sap will control bugs. Big animals eat bugs.” “Yes. You must change sap for bugs and animals.” “I will change sap for bugs and animals.” At last! “Yes. Change sap like this.” I deliver some prototype chemicals.”
Sue Burke, Semiosis

“I am the biggest and most powerful creature on Pax, and the most dangerous, and I have made mistakes I cannot rectify. But I meant well. I meant greater happiness for all. I meant to create a new and different and better life. I thought I would not repeat the past. I failed.”
Sue Burke, Semiosis


June Science Fiction -- The following poll decides which two books will go to the final round of polls for June 2018's Science Fiction BOTM.

  12 votes, 17.4%

  10 votes, 14.5%

  9 votes, 13.0%

  9 votes, 13.0%

  9 votes, 13.0%

  5 votes, 7.2%

  4 votes, 5.8%

  4 votes, 5.8%

  4 votes, 5.8%

  3 votes, 4.3%


Topics Mentioning This Author

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Play Book Tag: Announcing the April tag 123 211 Apr 30, 2018 08:33AM  
Beyond Reality: Welcome to May 2018! 1 17 May 01, 2018 10:08AM  
Beyond Reality: Nominations for June 2018 21 63 May 28, 2018 04:46PM  
The Seasonal Read...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Completed Tasks: PLEASE DO NOT DELETE ANY POST IN THIS THREAD 2282 322 May 31, 2018 09:01PM  
Beyond Reality: Welcome to June 2018! 1 18 Jun 01, 2018 05:21AM  
Beyond Reality: Semiosis -- -- Roll Call and First Impressions **NO SPOILERS!** 12 24 Jun 16, 2018 07:55AM  
“Stories only happen to those who are able to tell them.”
Paul Auster

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness. ”
Michel de Montaigne

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Sue Burke Win a free copy of 140 And Counting, a book of Tweet-length poetry, including work by me:

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