Science Fiction Mystery Novel Burnout


The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281

By Stephanie Osborn

How do you react when you discover that
the next Shuttle disaster has happened...
right on schedule?

Burnout cover

Trailer by Book Candy Studios.

Video by Darrell Osborn.


To purchase your copy of Burnout, please click one of the links below.
Libraries may acquire through Baker & Taylor. Twilight Times Books also
carries print and ebook.

Barnes-Noble Booksellers Amazon Books-A-Million Powell's Books AbeBooks Alibris Better World Books Valore Books Lookout Mountain Books, Golden, CO Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Memphis Baker & Taylor Books
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ISBN: 978-1-60619-200-9

Be sure to contact your local bookstore and ask them to stock Burnout!


    This book is respectfully and affectionately dedicated to Kalpana
    Chawla ("K.C."), and the other members of the crew of Space Shuttle
    Columbia on her final voyage; as well as to the Challenger Seven.
    They were explorers and scientists, first and foremost, and without
    them, and their gallant sacrifice, our lives would be the poorer.
    May we always remember that, sometimes, humankind’s advances take
    everything we have to give, of our best and our brightest. May
    we never take them – our best, or our advances – for granted.

    Sample Chapters

    What People Are Saying...

    Press Releases

    About Burnout

    One of novelist Stephanie Osborn's current science fiction mysteries (in
    e-book and trade paperback formats) by Twilight Times Books is Burnout,
    a techno-thriller about a Space Shuttle disaster that turns out to be no accident.
    As the true scope of the conspiracy is gradually uncovered by the principal
    investigators, "Crash" Murphy and Dr. Mike Anders, they find themselves
    running for their lives, as lovers, friends and coworkers involved in the
    investigation perish around them. What happened to the Shuttle? Who is
    responsible for the disaster and why? Why is the government calling it an
    accident? Why is someone willing to kill to keep it a secret? And how big is
    the conspiracy? An exciting action techno-thriller, Burnout will leave you on
    the edge of your seat, not wanting to put it down. Burnout has been in
    Fictionwise's SF Top 25.

    Writing Burnout

    There's a loooong story behind the writing of Burnout. For one thing, it
    took me somewhere between 10 and 15 years between the conception
    of the idea, and the book that's now in work with Twilight Times.

    Why? Simple.

    I was too close to it.

    Image copyright Darrell Osborn, 2008

    You see, I worked in the space industry, civilian and military, for over
    two decades. I constructed and modified astronaut's experiment operation
    schedules, sometimes on the fly; I trained them, I trained colleagues,
    I wrote crew procedures for those experiments. I memorized safety
    considerations and sometimes helped out in malfunction procedures.
    One hosed act on my part could have meant an injured, maybe even a
    dead, astronaut.

    And here I was, writing about a Shuttle disaster. The exact thing that
    I, as a payload flight controller, did NOT want to see.

    It messes with your head, that.

    And then, the unthinkable happened.

    Columbia went down. And I had a friend aboard her when it happened.

    By that time, I had moved out of civilian work into military work, or
    my emotional response might have been even worse. But Burnout was
    essentially done, at least in first draft - already to my mentor, in fact -
    and as it was, I had to put the manuscript away for a good six months
    or so - not even look at it. You see, I'd lost TWO friends at one go:
    KC, and Columbia; because that was the Shuttle with which I'd worked
    the most.

    I had just started working in the field when the Challenger disaster
    occurred. The program I worked at the time of the disaster was to have
    led to a Shuttle mission, and I would have been a Payload Specialist
    candidate. Shortly thereafter, the next phase of my project was
    cancelled, however, due to the grounding of the Shuttle Fleet. I found
    myself moving over into the payload flight contol area, and learned a lot.

    The seeds of Burnout began as a conversation between colleagues
    and myself concerning certain abilities of the Shuttle. It does have an
    autopilot, and a certain very VERY limited amount of remote control capability.
    We began discussing under what circumstances a Shuttle could be damaged on
    orbit and still manage a reasonably safe descent. (And yes, this did require
    considerable knowledge of the guts of a Shuttle. Betwixt us all, we did
    manage to possess the requisite knowledge, though no one person had the
    whole picture.) I don't know that we ever did come to a consensus of
    whether or not it was possible, however.

    But that was the birth of the idea. What if I wrote a story about a
    Shuttle accident, and the ensuing investigation? What sort of accident
    should it be? Should it cause merely a dangerous, or a catastrophic,

    And then the idea hit: What if it wasn't an accident?

    And that was when Burnout was born.

    "Official" STS-281 mission patch
    Image copyright Darrell Osborn, 2010
    T-shirts, polos, etc. available from Mystik Waboose Clothiers

    August 28, 2008

    Lovely new information! With any luck, one of our editors will be free
    next week, and the iteration and further polishing will begin! I'm very excited.
    I love to write, and to have my first story about to be in print is a
    real adrenaline buzz!

    For those of you who have been asking, the book will be offered in both
    e-book and trade paperback format, simultaneously. Publication date is
    tentatively set for Tax Day! April 15, 2009.

    October 26, 2008

    Editing is well underway on Burnout! I'm getting some really good feedback
    and I think it's improving the manuscript considerably. Not to mention,
    I've discovered that, while I'm generally an excellent speller, the editors
    have discovered one word I consistently canNOT spell right: bureaucrat.
    (I hope that's spelled RIGHT this time.)

    Last week my promo tour kicked off with Con*Stellation! It went great,
    and I had a blast. I got excellent responses to my Burnout reading, from
    both fans and other authors. For more details, check out my blog! Next
    weekend promos continue with CrisisCon.

    I have a MySpace page now. It was originally intended as merely an intro
    link page to this website, but after Con*Stellation, it picked up activity.
    If you want to check it out, click here.

    November 14, 2008

    The latest draft of Burnout just went back to my publisher! I have to say,
    the editor's comments made it better than ever! He caught some plot problems
    I didn't realize I had, because I was too close to it. So I fixed those,
    and I'm very happy with it. Hope editor and publisher will feel the same.

    As far as I can tell, we're on schedule for an April 15, 2009 launch!

    December 15, 2008
    Doc Taylor talks Burnout

    When we were on a panel together at Con*Stellation, my mentor, Travis "Doc"
    Taylor told the story of how he reviewed my original manuscript. I asked him
    to put it down in writing, so you could all hear what happened, and here's
    his story.

    "I remember when Steph sent me her first draft of Burnout. It was before the
    Columbia tragedy. I read through it and I recall telling her that I thought she
    had hit the nail on the head. Her description of the burn-up on reentry was
    very visual and technically sound. Then, while I was reading her manuscript,
    it happened! The Columbia burned up on reentry. And, the visual horror
    of the accident was almost identical to how Stephanie had described it in her
    book. I had extreme horrible chills run up and down my spine.

    "However, her depiction wasn't psychic. It wasn't magic at all. Instead, it
    was a brilliant analysis by someone who had "sat on console" for NASA for
    years and who had the experience to describe the horror of just such an
    accident. To top that off, her manuscript was intriguing and fun. You should
    give it a read. I read it twice."

    December 28, 2008

    Hopefully, the last edits have been sent to the publisher! The E-arc
    review copies should be produced this next week. Therefore, review copies
    should be sent out in the next two weeks! WAHOO!

    January 10, 2009

    e-ARC out! WAHOO!

    December 4, 2010

    Burnout t-shirts are available from Mystik Waboose Clothiers!

    My husband Darrell Osborn, a graphics artist who does contract work for NASA
    as well as the cover art for my books (and a few other people, like Jason
    Cordova and Travis Taylor), designed the "official STS-281 mission patch"
    which is based on real NASA mission patches and appears on the left breast
    front. A contest was held on Facebook for the quotation from the book to be
    used on the back of the shirt, and Terry Minton of Clarksville TN won, with
    the quotation: "Space is the high ground. Sun Tzu."

    Pictures of the shirts and the "mission patch" can be found on my Facebook
    pages, on the Mystik Waboose Clothiers Facebook page, and on this page (see
    above) and my homepage. To order, email Specify
    size and color according to the following:

    The Official Shirt is Royal Blue, but Red and Athletic Grey are available on
    request. You can order the shirt in unisex sizes Small to 6X and in Ladies
    Cut sizes Small to 2X.

    For an extra $5 on the back of the shirt, they will print the authorized
    quote, "Space is the high ground. - Sun Tzu"

    Ladies Ts - Small to 1X - $20; 2X - $22
    Unisex Ts - Small to 1X - $20; 2X - $22; 3X - $24; 4X - $26; 5X - $28; 6X - $30

    Spring 2011

    June 20, 2011

    It is with great pleasure that we announce that we have access to POLO SHIRTS.
    Our author series of shirts are available in 3 & 1/2 inch designs on polo shirts. The
    price for the Burnout shirts in Polo is $5 above the regular price. The Polo Shirt sizes
    are S - 4X but no XLTs are available in Polo. Email:

    More to come...

    STS-107 Re-entry
    Original image by SOR Employees, source CAIB Report, Vol. 3


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    Copyright 2008 Stephanie Osborn. All rights reserved.