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… and I find the illustration for my story just beautiful. Original link
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God bless Mr Bradshaw


I spent a good part of my Saturday night trying to find a train from London to Manchester in March 1903. Because that’s when (and where) my Holmesian pastiche is set, and that’s what I need – a train from London to Manchester, possibly a night train, for Doctor Watson to board in a hurry. Easy, right? Now while on one tab in my browser I was researching the old timetables and taking notes, in another I was chatting with a friend that was telling me how he spent his Friday night researching early 20th century Serbian infantry artillery. Which led us to ask ourselves – why bother? There’s tonnes of drivel out there, poorly researched rubbish in which Scotland Yard is closed after 5 pm and on w...
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Odds and Ends #19


On the latest issue of Odds and Ends, we’ve got Italian and international music, an old classic and its eldritch re-incarnation, enough Steven Spielberg to last you a week, and all you need to stay as fit as it was 1959. Plus, a nice serving of gyudon. Because it’s good to be my Patrons. Original link
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Red as blood, white as bone


I did not feel like working this afternoon, so I did a bit of writing for a project I’d like to see take off in the next days (due date the last of May), and then I brew me a cup of tea and dug out one of the (virtual) stack of Tor.com novellas I have here. Short, high quality fantasy fiction – what’s better on a rainy Saturday afternoon? Red as blood, white as bone is a fairy-tale story by Theodora Goss, a wonderful writer with a great catalog of excellent books. It is a deceptively simple story about stories, and their importance and value. It starts like a re-telling of Cinderella, then swerves in Angela Carter territory (but better, in many respects, than Carter’s Blood Chamber stories),...
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Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, vol 1


And so it’s here, in all its glory, the first volume of the definitive edition, in English by Vertical, of the manga version of the old Mobile Suit Gundam. A gift for my fifty-second birthday. And I have already discussed how, at the tender age of fifty-two, it feels weird to be so excited by a comic based on a cartoon I watched when I was fourteen. But like in that old song, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Or I’ll enjoy Gundam. A quick recap, in case you missed the thing. In the near future, Earth has colonized the near space using O’Neill cylinder colonies in the Lagrange points of the Earth-Moon system. The farthest colony secedes, the leader of the secession dies (heart attack? ...
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‘La Mesnée d’Hellequin’


I’m reading two books, as one does. One is a mystery set here in the place where I live, and I’ll talk about that another time. The other is Claude Lecouteux’ Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghostly Processions of the Undead, a very thorough coverage of the legends and folklore connected with the Wild Hunt, a medieval European legend with its roots in a much deeper past and with echoes that reach us today. And apparently the Mesnée d’Hellequin, as it was called in Old French has acquired some recent popularity due to a bestselling series of fantasy novels and an equally popular video-game franchise – but I don’t care. I’m doing some research for a story (or five) and I wan...
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Introducing the Nemo Dynasty


Domenico Attianese is a writer, journalist and screenwriter based in Italy, and a good friend. I am therefore quite happy to point you in the direction of Point Nemo , the first boon in the Nemo Dynasty series. You can consider it, if you like, a pilot episode in a TV series. The idea is simple – for generations the descendants of Captain Nemo have fought against the coming of the Great Old Ones, but now H.P. Lovecraft is about to unleash on our planet the scariest of these ancient horrors. So, OK, maybe simple is not the right word… Like the unholy child of Alan Moore and Jules Verne, with more than a hint of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Domenico’s story is fast, furious and fun, and mixes pulp ...
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Researching the Cimmerian


It is always good when a new job provides the opportunity to go back to a character we love. Right now, I am struggling with doctor John Watson’s voice as I try and finish my first Sherlock Holmes pastiche (the editor’s waiting), but in the meantime, I’ve had to dug out a few books about my old friend Conan the Cimmerian. Of the various books, none is as thorough as GURPS Conan, but certainly none is as gorgeous as Roy Thomas’ huge Conan – The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Savage Barbarian (classy title, uh?), that has been sitting here on my shelf for ages, waiting for the right moment to be something more than a private pleasure, and turn into a research item. The volume is a beauty t...
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The dark side of the writer’s lifestyle


There’s a lot of people that wants the lifestyle and not the job of writing. Not the long hours at the keyboard, the rejection slips and the plots that ramble and get nowhere, but rather the interviews, the presentations and the signing sessions, the mingling with the beautiful people in exotic locales, the fast cars and the gourmet food. Some of these would probably envy how I spent the night of last Saturday, sitting around a table in a pizza place with a bunch of writers, talking (among other things) about deranged Russian aristos, weird Portuguese exchange students and the cover art of romance novels. These are great opportunities, for fun and education, and good food. So, yes, envy me. ...
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Coming soon: DreamForge #2


The second issue of DreamForge Magazine will be available on the first of July 2019. The theme of the issue is Tales of Indomitable Spirit. In the words of the editors… We have 18 Amazing stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy, including contributing authors from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., South Africa, Italy, and Denmark. Art by Hugo Award Winner Elizabeth Leggett, Illustrator of the Future Winner Cassandre Bolan, renowned national book cover artist John Blumen, and master illustrator, writer, and educator Mark Zingarelli. Featuring a reprint of David Weber’s exciting Legion of Space Adventure “A Certain Talent.” The magazine includes a short story of mine, called Sapiens. I hope you’ll li...
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Peggy Lipton, 1946-2019


When I was a kid I loved The Mod Squad. Original link
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Book Fair and New Projects


Yesterday I spent the morning playing tourist in Asti, and the afternoon at the Turin Book Fair, where I occupied a chair in the Acheron Books booth. With my brother we had decided to treat the day as a vacation, and it was like that. Granted, today I am voiceless and we had to take a quick jaunt to the triage unit of the local hospital, but that’s nothing serious, and we’ll survive and grow stronger. The morning in Asti was fun and relaxing – it being market day the place was busy and yet relaxed. We got there at 8 am, and we enjoyed the center of town while most people was still sleeping. The Book Fair has been great. It’s good to spend a day interacting with readers and colleagues, and I ...
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Mid-life crisis with giant robot


I have often written in the past about the impact that the first series of Mobile Suit Gundam had on my generation and on me in particular. I think the best evidence of how much it impacted me is the fact that I am still watching the cartoons – no longer as a start-struck teenager, not as an otaku (I never was that), but with an eye to narrative structure, themes, character arcs, patterns. It was a story with a large cast, that mixed action and politics, high tech and melodrama, and that maybe for the first time (certainly for the first time for me) portrayed war as something traumatic instead of romantic. And a few minutes ago I was discussing with my brother how much I’d like to be able to...
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Author photos

I was thinking of doing a post like this, but LitHub did it first, and better: Author Photos: A Taxonomy Original link
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Pay What You Want and other urban legends


There’s a discussion going, on a friend’s Facebook profile, about how Pay What You Want (PWYW) offers don’t work in Italy. The punters will simply get the stuff for free, because that is what everybody wants to pay. Someone comments that PWYW never worked anyway, and brings the example of that Stephen King novel that was released in 2000, and was a total failure. I am not a Stephen King fan, but I remembered the thing from 2000, the ill-fated serial novel The Plant, so I went and checked a few numbers – and indeed, Stephen King’s PWYW experiment made him a meager 470.000 dollars. Total failure, right? The novel was never completed, and that is indeed a failure for a novelist (the rule is “th...
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Books about writing


I collect books about writing. I have at this point over 120 different titles on the subject, many in digital form, many in hard copy. Some of them are more useful than others, some of them are more entertaining than others, some of them I like better than others, each and everyone contains at least a little nugget of something that (I hope) helped me get better at the craft. I don’t think you can learn everything from a handbook, but maybe from a few dozens of them you’ll get enough tools to put together your own toolbox. This morning I learned about the Humble Book Bundle “Write like a Writer” , and I happily shelled out 80 eurocents for the basic tier of the offer. The basic level include...
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Original Ideas


I usually say originality is overestimated. I even write a series of articles in an Italian webzine that use that bit as a catchphrase. Being original is important, but you can’t copyright ideas – in the end what counts is not what ideas you rub together to spark a story, but how you use those sparks. What you do with the ideas, where you go with them, where you drag the reader and how. That’s what’s got to be original – the execution. I just posted an article – in the Nuts & Bolts series – on my Patreon about ideas and themes – where to find them, how to use them. I’ll have to expand that piece, but it’s a start. And what happens when you don’t have original ideas? You use what’s at hand. Y...
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Writer

“Call me a science fiction writer, I’ll come to your house and I’ll nail your pet’s head to a coffee table. I’ll hit you so hard your ancestors will die. I’ll punch you so hard your grandmother will bleed. I’m a writer. There’s no adjective in front of it. I’m just a writer.” Harlan Ellison Original link
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Fighting as narrative (or vice-versa)


I have just watched Seven Strike as One, the final episode of the third and last season of Into the Badlands, to me still the best fantasy series on the telly these last few years, and one I will miss a lot now that’s gone. The finale was fast but highly satisfactory, and ended with two colossal hooks for a possible sequel that, alas, seems unlikely. Sherman Augustus as Moon, Eugenia Yuan as Kannin, Nick Frost as Bajie, Daniel Wu as Sunny, Emily Beecham as The Widow, Lewis Tan as Gaius, Ally Ioannides as Tilda – Into the Badlands _ Season 3, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC I admit I am a fan of the series – I love the characters, the setting, the fighting choreography, the smal...
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Latro


Notoriously, I am in the habit of re-reading one of two books, in alternating years. Usually in the spring, I either re-read Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy, or I re-read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun. This year, following the death of Wolfe, I decided to change my pattern, and re-read something different (while I am also reading some of Wolfe’s stuff I had missed so far). My only doubt was – what should I re-read? In the end, I had two candidates: the massive The Wizard Knight, and the three books in the Soldier series. Both are great books, both I have read too many years ago, both are here on my special shelf, and both are books (or book series) from which I could learn something ne...
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