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John Carter in Cinemascope


As Blondie used to sing, dreaming is free…Original link
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Faster than the speed of night


… is, in fact, a song by Jim Steinman that was recorded by Bonnie Tyler in 1983, and it also gave the title to her most popular album, that I dutifully have on vinyl because I was young and reckless once, or something. But that’s not what I want to talk about.The thing started with a movie featuring Michael Caine – an actor I like very much – and called Pulp. You can imagine I was interested in catching it (and I think I reviewed it in the past – I’m sure WordPress will put a link in the footer of this post if I did).While the movie is not very good, it has a beautiful BlueRay case illustration, and it’s always good watching Caine playing a suave anti-hero. In the movie, Caine plays a writer...
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Roman soldiers in Egypt


And so I said, what the heck, it’s Saturday afternoon, I’ve worked all the morning, I’ll take a break, eat some ice cream and forget about the rest for 36 hours.But then the usual fear comes – what if I waste my time and miss my deadlines…I forced myself to take it easy – it won’t be a day that will make that much of a difference, and I can use this downtime to do some minor research.So, while I was enjoying a bowl of excellent chocolate and cream ice cream I researched the vocal commands to dictate in Italian in Google Docs. Turns out that “Full stop, new line” is not “Punto e a capo” as per Italian usage, but it is “Punto, nuova riga” – a literal translation of the English.Exciting, uh?The...
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This writing thing is getting out of hand


I spent the whole day writing, clocking about 8000 words. It was not even that hard – the one true problem was the heat (we are again over 30°C with swimming-pool grade humidity and not a breath of air).I also found the time to take a little walk after sunset, and I submitted two stories. One already came back with a list of required changes.But yesterday night it was fun – we went out and met a writer friend, and spent the evening sitting out of a bar, drinking cool lemonade and talking shop.The Doobie Brothers were wrong. It’s not hiding your heart. It’s these breaks, when you spend an evening rambling about everything with an intelligent person, staying away from the PC, internet and your...
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Throwing tanks at Nazi supermen: Godlike RPG


This is a sort of “request post” – I have been asked a short review of Godlike, the superhero game designed by Dennis Detwiller and Greg Stolze, currently published by Arc Dream Publishing. I like the game very much, and so it is no great sacrifice writing a review.I still own and play the first edition of the handbook – the second is gorgeous, but I only have the PDF, and I prefer to have a hardcopy book at my table.So, it’s the 1930s, clouds of war are gathering on the horizon, and as a surprise move, the Nazi have developed a superman – a guy with a swastika on the chest, that actually flies. He opens Berlin’s Olimpics with a fly-by, and everything changes.Only it doesn’t.The strong point...
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A video essay about professionalism

With a tip of the hat to my friend Flavio that pointed this out to me.I do not agree 100% with the videomaker, but we are clearly on the same page.Original link
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4 Against Darkness: Island of (something or other)


And the second novella in the 4 Against Darkness series is done, all 18.000 words of it. Now I’ll let it rest briefly, prune it of the useless bits, and then after dinner I’ll send it along to Ganesha Games for revision, editing, and the addition of art and a meaty gaming appendix.The only thing still missing is the title.Originally I pitched it as Rock Island (like the Jethro Tull song, in keeping with my habit of naming my gaming books from songs I like). But Rock Island for this baby is lame.Then I thought about Island of Thieves, which is not bad, does not give away any detail about what actually happens in the book, but it’s intriguing, and it’s actually a thing that’s said in the story...
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Beloved


In Honor of Toni MorrisonNobel Prize winner in Literature Toni MorrisonTo Celebrate the life of the esteemed author Toni Morrison, I’m reposting my review of Beloved. This book ranks as one of my all time favorite reads.Beloved by Toni MorrisonMy rating: 5 of 5 starsWhen I enrolled into my contemporary literature class, I couldn’t fathom what kinds of novels my instructor planed to toss at us. I remember staring at the reading list with more than a little trepidation, and when my eyes glanced over Toni Morrison’s Beloved, I groaned. The red background with the flowing gold script screamed romance to me. When it came time to read the book, I settled in with an open mind, but still trembled fr...
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Down the Nile on a steamboat

So it went like this. this morning, about one hour after posting the previous post in which I said I’m all out of time, overworked and juggling a lot of projects at the same time, I went and pitched a story to a magazine – and in half an hour I got a reply and a go ahead.It’s not yet a sale, but it’s a new project with very good legs on which to stand.Why did I do it if I’m so overworked?Well, because it was a perfect opportunity to write a story I’ve been sitting on for six months now. Because I know and respect the editors. Because I live with this constant fear that the money will run out, and so I take as many paid gigs as I can get.But let’s admit it – a five-lines pitch being approved ...
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Running out of time


Both literally and metaphorically, that is.And both globally and personally, in more than one way: I have a ton of things to do, time is running out on a number of deadlines, and one of these is for a 4000-words story about… time running out, for all of us.Looks like my writing life’s become terribly meta, and all that.And it gets better (well, sort of)I have one week to write a short story about the death of our planet (or any planet, really, but I think I’ll focus on this one, for sentimental reasons).As luck would have it, at the same time a review came out about the book about apocalypse cinema that features my piece about ecological catastrophes in the movies. A very nice review, and it...
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The best way to travel from Shanghai


Original link
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Some late night thoughts about invisibility


This post might be (and probably will be) rambling and jump all over the place. Please bear with me – it’s very late at night.I’ve been thinking about invisibility a lot, in the last few months. Now this is a good thing, one might say, for a fantasy writer: invisibility is a classic gimmick, and one that can be used to tell an exciting story while at the same time touching on a number of different themes, and thus talk about reality and truth. A good subject, invisibility, easily recognized and versatile.Indeed it can be argued that my story The Smell of Empty Places (that was published in Italian in Acheron Books’ Dark Italy, and might one of these days be published in English, too) is a st...
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Writing, reading, making plans


In this month of August 2019 I will have to churn out something like 75.000 words, between stories I am already contracted to write, and translations. That’s a load of work, but the hope is I’ll be paid (I usually am, but not always) and therefore I’ll have a certain security for the last months of the year. It would be good to be in the green for a while.So don’t get fooled by the photo (it’s there to keep ME in a good mood): I am devoting eight hours a day to writing, and at least two to reading – because I need distractions and fodder for thought. It’s not that heavy a schedule, because in these three years I have learned to pace myself – more or less.I will still do my best to post here ...
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Beyond the fence with Ken Hite: The Fall of Delta Green


This year’s GenCon was a triumph for Call of Cthulhu, and in particular for Delta Green – and Kenneth Hite’s The Fall of Delta Green won the Best Setting Ennie Award.A well deserved award, I think. I have been a long-time fan of Delta Green – some of my material was published in some old handbooks, and one of my stories appears in a Delta Green collection, and I have met some of my best friends in the Delta Green underground at the turn of the century. More: I have started writing fiction in English because of Delta Green – now you know who you can blame.The Fall of Delta Green looks to me like the perfect celebration for an adventure I started twenty years ago. For the uninitiated, Delta Gr...
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Practicing the True Secret of Writing (or at least trying)


I think I already told you part of this, so bear with me if I repeat myself.I started dabbling with Zen in high school: our teacher was convinced the Ministry-approved curriculum for History and Philosophy was limited and incomplete, and so he assigned us to write essays on subjects that were not part of the program. I already had a passion for the east, and so I chose to do a paper on Zen philosophy.My teacher provided a few titles, and then I discovered Thomas Hoover’s Zen Culture, and I was thoroughly fascinated. Incidentally, Hoover’s book can be downloaded for free – together with many of his other fine fiction and non-fiction books – from the author’s web page.My essay got top marks, m...
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Madama Lucrezia: a very small case of synchronicity


I was writing this morning. I am currently juggling writing and translating, and today is a morning writing/afternoon translating sort of day.So I was writing this scene for the next 4 Against Darkness novella, and the characters are starting to explore the strange place where I placed them.I wrote“It was the sculpture of a young woman, her simple dress flowing, her hair in a tall do. The weather had erased her features, making her face a blank. A few fingers of her outstretched hands were missing.”Myself – WIPNot a great description, not a sample of superb writing, but after all, it’s a first draft.At the same moment, my friend Dal – who is a fine artist and lives in Rome – was taking a wal...
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A morning among the rude mechanicals


I took the morning off. My brother was to see the doctor, and I went along, basically to enjoy the air conditioning in the doc’s waiting room. I brought my Kindle along (about which, more later) and settled in one of the wonderfully uncomfortable chairs.The air conditioning was on to Alaskan Winter levels – I guess the doctor is trying to increase his workload by causing his patients pneumonia or, who knows, maybe decrease his workload by offing the weakest.And I had the opportunity of spending two hours surrounded by the nice villagers.Villagers that are firmly convinced we were better off when we were not part of the European Union. Never mind that we co-founded the European Union and that...
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Steve Loves Linda, a short story of the Old Timers


The Old Timers were a loose bunch of aged superheroes that I contributed to my friend’s Alex Girola’s shared universe 2 Minutes to Midnight. In a setting in which superheroes were members of government-sponsored teams or worked as part of corporations, the Old Timers were masked avengers hailing from an older, pulpier era. They remained in the sidelines and stepped in only when it was time to set the more traditional and modern superheroes straight.I watched the Amazon Prime series The Boys, this last weekend, and then I got to talk with Alex and a few others of our old accomplices in the 2MM series. The original comic of The Boys had been one of the inspirations of our shared universe, toge...
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Getting at least the basics straight


A few months back, I was the witness of a surreal discussion among (male) writers about how to write (female) characters.It was one of those things that REALLY make me feel like a rude mechanical that gatecrashed a party of fine intellectuals, because the guys brought up literary theory, polling the feedback of female beta readers and conducting interviews with control groups to be sure of “getting it right”, and then of course Jung’s theory of the Animus and Anima, yin and yang, Freud’s letter to his chiropractor and what else.Real heavy stuff.Now, I usually think about the women I have known in my life – friends and lovers, relations and acquaintances, teachers, co-workers, neighbors, stra...
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Cherish the small pleasures


… because sometimes the big pleasures are out of your league.And having spent a whole day writing, today’s small pleasure will be to take a walk under the stars and enjoy and ice-cool lemonade (that’s called “gazzosa” hereabout – like the French “gazeuse”).There’s a company that does special edition bottles with nose-art style ’40s pinups.Sometimes that’s enough to feel better.Original link
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