East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Chasing Lost Voices

lost voicesSunday morning I woke up early and I watched a movie, a Japanese anime from 2011.
As it often happens with Japanese animation products, the film goes under a number of different titles.
The original Hoshi o Ou Kodomo literally means Children who chase stars, but the film is best known as Children who chase lost voices or as Travel to Agartha.
And now you can probably see the reason for my interest – Agartha being one of the great legends that haunt the Silk Road and Central Asia.

The film was written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, a young director with a number of short animations in his name. The feature is very Miyazaki-like in tone and setting, and this is quite fine with me. Continue reading

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A yacht cruise in 1964

I like to read a good travel book once in a while, and in the summer is a good way to travel without moving.
My interest in travel literature started more or less when I was doing my the first year of university, and it goes well with my passion for fantasy and adventure stories: all these different narratives hinge on travel and exploration, one way or another, they all talk about other places, other times, other people.
Travel books – just like memoirs and biographies – are also a great way to do research, of course.
And what’s better than a travel memoir, then? Continue reading

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An earthier kind of fantasy

Swords_and_Sorcery-anthologyI’ve been involved in a lot of talk, in the past weeks, about Sword & Sorcery and the definition thereof, and what makes S&S different from Heroic Fantasy and blah blah blah.
The subject is dear to my heart as I like S&S, and I both read and write it.
And as luck would have it, hot on the heels of that discussion I got a contract for a number of S&S shorts (yeah!!)1 – so it turns into a matter close to my bread-winning activities, too.

But do we really have to undersign a standard definition?

I still love the definition provided by Glen Cook (an author I love) in an old piece on the SFSignal Blog:

I see Sword & Sorcery as a species of proletarian fiction. The heroes are working class guys, within the context of the story and mores of the time when it was written. They are guys who get stuff done but you would not want them in the drawing room for high tea because they smell bad, break things, and leave bloody messes all over. Despite their class, or lack thereof, they are not much into progressive politics, seeing that sort as easy meat.

This one works fine with me, and while I am not much for definitions it was one of the bits I had in mind when I started writing Aculeo & Amunet. Continue reading


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