East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Space Patrol, in German

I was always pretty wary of nostalgia, and I’ve become even more so in the last few years, after seeing nostalgia weaponized and used to sell cartloads of rubbish to people that, basically, were reacting to a manufactured nostalgia for something they had not, in fact, experienced first hand.
And yet.

Yesterday I read in Variety a Bavarian production company is set to launch a new series of Raumpatroille – that’s Space Patrol in German – a 1966 series that was probably the first proper SF show I ever saw on television, in the early ’70s, when I was in primary school.
Boy, we loved that show – all seven episodes of it.
The complete title was quite a mothful, in original: Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion.

The plot: in a future in which humanity has become a single people as is exploring space, major Clif Allister McLane and the crew of the starship Orion face menaces both natural and not, including the expansionist plans of an alien race known as the Frogs.

The series was shot in black and white, and REALLY on the cheap – and yet it turned out to be too expensive for the production company, that had to pull the plug after barely seven 1-hour episodes because they had ran out of money.

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Not a country for writers

Last night my fried Hell (yes, they really call him like tat) got royally pissed off at Lavie Tidhar, the multi-award winning author of Central Station and many other great books.
Hell is an excellent writer and an equally excellent editor – indeed, he served as co-editor on a few of my projects. He’s got a fun series of SF novels set in the fictional desert town of Perfection, in a future world in which everything’s slowly unwinding, and humans co-exist with sexy robots and mutant desert foxes. He’s self-publishing his work in Italian.
Hell’s work’s been often compared to Tidhar’s in terms of complexity, irony and energy, and the two authors were born one month apart from each other.
Only, you all know who Lavie Tidhar is, and none of you ever heard about Germano Hell Greco. How come?

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School of hard knocks: Monster Hunter (2020)

I did not have great expectations when I started watching Monster Hunter, the 2020 movie based on a popular videogame property by Capcom. I never played the videogames, and I had a very sketchy idea of the setup. All I knew was there is Milla Jovovich in it – and I quite like her – and that it was written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, a man that should be hanged and quartered for what he did to the Three Musketeers.
So, you get an idea of what I was expecting.

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Windy day

The weather is breaking. It’s not so cold anymore, and the days are windy and the sun bright. The grey cat is back, and he wants food, when he’s not laying in the sun, an eye out for intruders. And as it usually happens when there’s a wind, my bones ache and my muscles are cramped.
After the deep winter lethargy, I am moving on to spring crankiness.
Then it will be summer heat fatigue, and crankiness again with autumn.
The only way to feel all right is probably move to a tropical island, but that’s not going to happen any time soon.

In the first 60 days of 2021, I submitted a total of 24 stories, articles and pitches – and managed to sell six against four rejections so far. A great start, if a lot of hard work.
And this morning I signed a contract for a ghostwriting gig – which means an advance is coming, and if it’s true I’ll have to spend six weeks working hard, it also means we’ll be able to get our bills covered to the summer.
So, yes, things are going the right way.

And really, if there is a problem right now – apart from the aching bones due to the windy weather – is the fact that I need to write faster, or decide what projects will have to wait for a better time.
And there’s just too many great opportunities right now on my plate.
A nice change – while we are back in the Orange Zone, and we cannot leave our village.
But this is also a positive thing – the overwork does not give me time to feel the stress of the general seesaw of small-scale lockdowns, quarantine and continued precautions.

So yes – if you don’t see me around too often, it’s basically because I am writing.

But there’s other stuff coming, for the blog too.
Like that guy said, running is after all just keeping falling forward.
I’m getting good at it.


It’s not the years, baby, it’s the mileage

Today was the first proper sunny day in months, and we met with our friend Fabrizio for a chat and some social interaction of the kind that’s not done in online meetings. So we took a jaunt to Costigliole, where Fabrizio has his house and his writing shack. And because he’s a much more active and fit person than I’ll ever be, he took us on a long walk among the hills.

And boy am I out of shape.
The exercise completely floored me, making it clear that I better start doing something about my (lack of) activity, or I’ll end up like one of those old men that roll on the floor instead of walking.

On the other hand, the fatigue brought inspiration – and I am about to pitch a new story to a publisher that might (only might) be interested in a story of mine.
An active life also improves mental agility.
But what the heck, wasn’t it a meatgrinder of a walk…

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In the last year, keeping my Patreon up to date has been hard – in part because of the general sense of fatigue that weighed me down, in part because of the need to try and sell everything I was writing, in order to cover the bills and buy food.
So yes, I have been a very bad Patreon Creator – and I have lost a few Patrons because of this, and I am really sorry, because these are people I have let down.

But now things are, if not looking up, at least no longer looking sideways, and I’ve just started a new series of Patrons-only posts, in which I will pick the opening of a novel or short story, and analyze it, to see what the author did, what work the first lines do in the economy of the book.

These are short posts, that I will upload both in English and Italian, and are a fun way to look at writing technique and, maybe, discover new and old books.
Being short, I can manage to put up two per week, for as long as I have novels to examine. Half the posts about the openings will be uploaded in the weekends, and go to all my Patrons, and the other half will be available only to the stalwarts of the Five Bucks Brigade. These I will post during the week.

For starters, I have posted the opening of C.S. Forester’s classic adventure novel, The African Queen, for all my supporters, and the opening of Daniel Kehlmann’s Thirty Years War fantasy Tyll for my Five Bucks Patrons only.