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Author Blogs

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Four Against Darkness: Heart of the Lizard


And so it’s out, and I can finally post the cover – that I had shown you a while back, I think – and a link to buy my novella Heart of the Lizard , the fist (hopefully) story in a series set in the world of Andrea Sfiligoi’s game Four Against Darkness. The book is published by Ganesha Games, and includes a novella and a big appendix with all the gaming material you need to use in your games the magic, creatures, monsters and treasures you read about. Andrea wrote the appendix, and also illustrated the book. The book is currently available as a pdf, with the paperback coming soon. Four Against Darkness is a solo roleplaying game of dungeon delving and monster bashing. Think classic Old School...
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Conan Doyle’s Birthday


It’s the 160th birthday of Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who gave us Sherlock Holmes, then took him away from us, and then gave him back to us. And as a way to celebrate this day, I think I’ll spend the rest of the evening to work on my Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Who knows, maybe ACD’s ghost will come around and inspire me. But I doubt it. Original link
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A drop in the ocean


This is a good moment for me. I’ve got work to do, lots of it – 12 hours per day until September if I’m lucky, to cover all the contracts I signed. My stories are selling reasonably well. I even got an invitation to participate in an SF anthology with a number of other Italian writers, all of them much more popular than I am. I’m thinking about it. My Patreon is growing, slowly but steadily (thank you guys!) And there’s money in the bank. Not a fortune, but enough to give me some breathing space, say two months without panic attacks and bill anxieties. And in exactly one week I’ll be 52. Well beyond the halfway point, sailing uncharted waters, but reasonably happy. For this reason when the F...
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Ghosts, Crimes and Philosophy: a review of Joyland


My friend Flavia says she re-reads Stephen King’s Joyland every year, usually in June, because she likes how it makes her feel. And I know a lot of people that did not like the book – and it’s because of both Flavia’s opinion and of those people’s opinion that I went and read it. I said I’d write a review when I finished it. Guess what… I finished it. I’ll start by saying that Joyland plays a dangerous game, because it’s both a crime thriller and a ghost story, and if mixing genres is always dangerous, it is also true that ghost stories often deal with the revelation of some dark secret, the avenging of some old crime. So, it’s a classic mix, and it works fine. Many also point out that Joyla...
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Elves


Can you write sword & sorcery with elves in it? It’s not an idle question – to me, elves are usually a mark of high fantasy, and all in all, only the old Eberron setting for D&D came close to show me it is not strictly so. Well, OK, Eberron and Shadowrun. But, what can I say, I’m about to hit the shelves with a novella – hopefully the first of a series, should the readers like it – that is sword & sorcery (because that’s what I do and that’s what the client requested), but also features an elf. There’s always a first time, right? The work was done to fit an existing universe, so there was no choice – elves it was. And also a very straightforward game-style structure. I like the challenge, I ...
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Beware what you wish for…


As the saying goes… because your wishes might come true. And no more that six weeks ago I was saying to myself what a damn chore – not to mention the expense – would be trying and putting together a decent collection of The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire. A decent collection, mind you, not a complete one. And now I found out Rebellion Publishing will issue the first 340 pages volume of the Trigan Empire in 2020. Finding the stuff is no longer a problem – but expenses might become critical. The series, written by Mike Butterworth and drawn by Dan Lawrence, ran between 1965 and 1982, and this means a lot of pages. Sort of a sword-and-planet/space opera story, The Rise and Fall of the Triga...
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Stevie’s second Hard Case: Joyland


Having spent most of the day writing, I decided to take a break at 4 pm and dug out another Hard Case ebook from the big supply I have now on my reader. My friend Flavia posted about starting to re-read once again Stephen King’s Joyland, and I thought, why not? I always liked the cover of this one, time to see if the story is up to it. Apart from the cover, another reason I wanted to get a copy of Joyland was, I heard a lot of King cultists say very bad things about it – and this was to me a certain guarantee of quality. I don’t like King cultists very much (and I am sure the feeling is mutual). So, I am now past the first quarter mark (the novel is quite fast) and I must say I am pleased. T...
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Coming Soon


… 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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