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Author Blogs

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A Grave for the Weasels


Two weeks ago I spent a weekend binge-watching Candle in the Tomb, a Chinese web-series about the exploits of a team of grave-robbers trying to find (and loot) an ancient lost city in the Gobi Desert. Despite the sometimes rough humor and the clunky SFX, it was a great fun – and for this reason, I moved on to the follow-up series, Candle in the Tomb: The Weasel Grave. A long weekend approaches, and this is just what I need to keep my spirits up during my long sleepless nights. In the original Candle in the Tomb, we met Hu Bayi, a former soldier that once cashiered finds his only marketable skills come from a family heirloom: a book about the theory and practice of tomb raiding. Set in the 19...
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Enough Dark Elves to last you a lifetime


The fine folks at Humble Bundle are offering a huge bundle of Forgotten Realms novels, most of which seem to focus on the Underdark and its denizens, the Drow or Dark Elves. As usual part of the proceeds go for a charity. One buck will net you six titles, and if you go all in and spend 15 bucks, you’ll get 23 books. There’s a whole slew of R.A. Salvatore novels featuring Drow swordmaster Drizzt, plus a few titles from other authors and series.I admit I am not a fan of R.A. Salvatore, but admittedly I read his books a lifetime ago, and in translation. This is a good opportunity to re-evaluate the bestselling Salvatore. And other books seem promising. As I mentioned, part of what you pay will ...
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Men (and women) of learning and of steel


Back in the day, I fell desperately in love with the writings of Mary Gentle, the British writer whose Rats & Gargoyles is still in my top five of favourite fantasy novels thirty years after I first read it. I have multiple copies of it, and the only time in my life I was mugged, the guy attacked me to steal from my coat pocket the paperback of Rats & Gargoyles.A bibliophile-thief? A fantasy-loving thug? In those pre-internet days, the only way to get everything Gentle had published was perusing the catalogs from Andromeda Books, and then mail an order (you know, with envelope and stamps) all the way to the UK, and then wait and pray the postman didn’t so something stupid. One of the first M...
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  103 Hits

A memory called Empire


My insomnia keeps raging, and so I am filling my long nights with books and movies – because you can’t go on writing without a pause. A good opportunity to catch up with titles I have overlooked or left behind in the past years. And right now I am really enjoying Arkady Martine’s A memory called Empire, that is the sort of smart, fun space opera that I have always liked. The reason, really, why I read (and sometimes write) science fiction. The plot in a nutshell: Mahit Dzare is rushed to the position of her people’s ambassador to the Teixcalaanli Empire when her predecessor dies. Winging her way through the political red tape and the byzantine rules of the imperial court, she starts investig...
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  98 Hits

As if…

As if I had not enough already on my plate, compounded with a general lack of energies and a devastating lack of sleep, I’ve thought it would be good to use internet for something more than squalid self promotion and for mindless entertainment. Like, there’s people out there that are having a real bad time – much worse than mine – dealing with the lockdown and its consequences.Kids that used to meet their friends in preschool.Singles holed up in a one-room apartment somewhere in suburbia.People that have no one to talk to. What could I do?I am basically a writer and a teacher.What could I provide for the community?Any ideas?Write them in the comments. Original link
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Like a ragged samurai – L’Armata Brancaleone


Mario Monicelli (1915-2010) was a genius and a true artist. He started his career in movies at 19, writing an adaptation of Poe’s Telltale Heart, and for over seventy years he was at the cutting edge of Italian cinema, with a total of 112 scriptwriting credits, and 69 movies directed. He was one of the stalwarts of the so-called “commedia all’italiana” (Italian-style comedy), a genre that, at its best, mixed broad farce, subtle satire, and sharp social observation. And Monicelli was the best in the game. Italian-style comedy came with a bundled problem, and some friends warned Monicelli that by bringing to the screen the flaws of the Italian character in highly comedic manner, his would be p...
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  94 Hits

Italian Low Fantasy – Kickstarting Brancalonia


The page for the Brancalonia Kickstarter is live, and the project was financed in about one hour. Color me impressed – and grateful to the fans.There is still twenty days to go, and so the project might become huge.But what’s this Brancalonia thing? Brancalonia is a game setting for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, a psaeudo-historical fantasy that taps the rich catalog of stories, folklore and ideas from the Italian middle ages.Based on the same concept of the highly successful Italian fantasy anthologies Zappa & Spada (something we could translate as Spade & Sorcery), Brancalonia is a low fantasy setting, in which the players portray members of the Medieval lower classes, trying to e...
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  106 Hits

A very Italian sort of fantasy


Admittedly, the title of Roy Kinnard and Tony Crnkovich’s Italian Sword and Sandal Films, 1908–1990 is misleading. The book does not cover only sword & sandal movies (aka peplums), but a whole selection of swashbucklers, historical and Biblical flicks. And I am not complaining at all. The book, published by McFarland & Co in 2017 is really just a long check list of the most important movies in the broad category of sword & sandal as applied by the authors. Like in, say, Silver & Ward’s Noir Encyclopedia, we get details on every cast and crew member but alas not an extensive critical article for every film. This is really a pity. On the other hand, if you have spent part of your youth watchin...
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  125 Hits

Vincent Price Blogathon: The Saint


It’s the day of the Vincent Price Blogathon, when we celebrate one of the most iconic, elegant and versatile actors ever to grace the silver screen, Vincent Price. Most of us know him for his huge catalog of horror movies, but Price was also a star in film noir and in costume dramas, he had a fine comic spirit and one of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood. He worked in movies, TV and radio, and outside of his acting career, he was an art expert and an excellent cook. The blogathon is hosted by Realweegiemidget Reviews and Cinematic Catharsis, so point your browser in that direction, for a huge selection of posts about Vincent Price, his life and his art.And then come back here, because...
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  119 Hits

Jade Yeo in Bloomsbury


I was mentioning my lack of experience in the field of romance, and as luck would have it, I ended up with a romance novella on my reader.A classic case of fuzzy serendipity. Zen Cho, a young fantasy writer from Malaysia, has been on my radar for a while – ever since her Sorcerer to the Crown made quite a splash.And the other day, as I was browsing Amazon, as one does, I spotted a short work by Cho called The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. What can I say?It was short, it was cheap, I bought it. And only later I discovered that it is not a fantasy, but rather a romantic comedy set in 1920 London, following the titular Jade Yeo, straight out of East Asia and working as a reviewer for a magazine, a...
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My story “Sapiens” on the Imaginary Worlds Podcast

The latest podcast from Imaginary Worlds is all about Solarpunk, as a culture, and attitude and a genre of science fiction. And I had the surprise of learning that my short story Sapiens, that was published in the second issue of the magazine DreamForge, was selected as an example of the genre.So, if you will, listen to the podcast – it’s full of great ideas and great reading suggestions.And I am in there, too! Original link
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The Watcher in the West


I have just delivered to my Patrons in the Five Bucks Brigade a 4000-words story called The Watcher in the West, the sixth story in the Tales from the Frontier series – stories that are exclusive to my Patreon page, set in a fantasy borderland between not-exactly-Mughal-India and Tang-China-but-not-really. This story is special, because it is a reworking of a story I wrote for an open call at the start of the year, and was in the end rejected – despite being praised by the editors. I wrote The Watcher in the West chiefly because it was a challenge – I had been asked to write a genre I had never tried before: romance.Granted, the request was for a romance story with action, swashbuckling and ...
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  92 Hits

Interviewed


Today I’ve been interviewed for a podcast – a panel about history and roleplaying games, in which I spent part of the time pushing Brancalonia, the low (and I mean low) medieval fantasy RPG that will get its kickstarter in a few days, and of which I am one of the masterminds. It was quite a pleasant experience, chatting with other game designers and history buffs about what we do when we use history as the basis of our games – what we keep, what we leave out, and why.There is only one question that keeps nagging me: how come that when I sit facing a microphone my voice becomes a croak, my already limited intelligence sinks, and in the end I can’t even spell?Oh, embarrassing, very embarrassin...
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  101 Hits

Mediums of improving conversation, brilliant wit, and moral obligations


Some things never change. I get an idea for a story, I start doing a modicum of research. Three Letters from the Country (because I am going to write it!) is going to be a ghost story set in a country house and told through letters. Ergo, I research old country houses, possibly of the British persuasion, for a map and hopefully some interior shot (to make my descriptive work easier), and I do research letter-writing during the Victorian and Edwardian era (because I want my letters to be formally convincing).And I take notes, because I am also writing an article about research for writers. Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com So, letter writing in the Victorian era… now that’s a surprising ...
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  128 Hits

Three letters from the country


I am starting to suffer for the insomnia that in the last two weeks has wrecked my routine. It’s not just the fact of sleeping (badly) by day and staying up at night, but most of all it’s a matter of entangled schedules.I have things to write, but my schedule is shattered.And as it usually happens, when I have too much to writer and not enough time and energy to write it, I got an idea for a new story. An idea that is good, solid, fun, and it has a potential market.Damn. Fact: I never wrote an epistolary story.That is, a story told through letters.And now I have this idea, called tentatively Three Letters from the Country – because I don’t have the time to write it, and yet I already have a ...
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  104 Hits

The Rhythm Section: I’m reading the book, I saw the movie


In the long, too-long list of my interests, I usually put, somewhere halfway through, espionage and spycraft. I grew up in a time when the movie franchise was James Bond, not Star Wars, and the idea that one day the epitome of awesome would be movies based on comic books was laughable. And while I never became a compulsive spy story reader, I have enjoyed the genre a lot, in a very scattershot manner – I read Bond and Modesty Blaise, sure, I tried and ditched SAS, I went through the whole Len Deighton catalog between the end of high school and the start of university, I read my Graham Greene and my Le Carré. I read Trevanian, I know Three Days of the Condor by heart. A few weeks back I caugh...
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  126 Hits

All that Weird Jazz


I am pleased to announce that the anthology All That Weird Jazz, published by the fine guys at Pro Se Productions, is available in both paperback and ebook, and it’s a collection of hits, featuring nine stories by Kimberly Richardson, MA Monnin, Ernest Russell, EW Farnsworth, James Hopwood, McCallum J. Morgan, Mark Barnard, and Sharae Allen. And one by me. As a long time fan of jazz music, it was a pleasure and a privilege being part of this team, and I hope you guys will enjoy this fine selection of weird fiction. Original link
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Occult investigators


I am sure I wrote in the past about how much I would have liked to write a series about a paranormal detective or an occult investigator. The sub-genre has a long and well-established tradition, and there’s a few excellent books out there, and quite a few series worth checking out. Of all the collections out there, one of my favorite is probably Mark Valentine’s The Black Veil & Other Tales of Supernatural Sleuths, that Wordsworth Classics published in their line Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural. The stories in the volume are old – most of them are Victorian or Edwardian – and from lesser-known authors, but that’s part of the fun. A quick check on Amazon reveals that the book is no long...
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  110 Hits

Never gonna be the same


No, not the minor hit for Scottish band Danny Wilson. I was reading an article on the plight of the poor fiction writer, relentless purveyor of narratives for the entertainment and the edification of the hoi polloi. You see, not only your garden variety fiction writer is locked up in their house, with the stress and anxiety of seeing the system slowly trying to cope with a change that was expected but ignored, and often failing in the attempt. Not only the writer has to deal with insomnia, increasing alienation, the pneumatic void of most social media contents and the bills that keep piling up as the bank account dwindles. No, the fiction writer has to deal with the fact that our world and o...
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Elves and revolution


Never liked the guys myself.Elves, I mean.Certainly the responsibility rests mostly with Tolkien, but really it was playing D&D that fuelled my antipathy for the elves. Maybe it’s because we never met a poor elf, a down-on-their-luck elf, a working stiff elf. No, the guys were always clean-cut and haughty, with their magic bonuses, their blade-dancing, their artifacts of power and what else. Later, Shadowrun nailed the whole thing, by portraying elves as an elite, and other metahumans – especially orcs and trolls – as discriminated minorities. Now, I tend to take the accusation of an “inherent racism” in fantasy with a grain of salt, but there’s no doubt that when you write that there’s a wh...
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  147 Hits