East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

It’s not the fall that kills you…


It’s a Chinese proverb – I think – that says you should beware what you wish for, because your wishes might come true.

Well, it’s right.
And I’ll talk about my personal matters for a while, if you don’t mind.

Ever since I was ten or thereabouts, I wanted to be a scientist and a writer.
Both things – I never saw a contradiction in being a scientist, a geologist, a paleontologist, and at the same time being a writer of fiction.
Some did, like the colleague in Turin University that asked me, in a rather chilly tone, how could I hope to be taken seriously as a scientist if I also wrote fantasy stories1.


And talking about writers, it’s a well documented fact that I have a passion for those old hacks of the pulp era – Walter B. Gibson, Norvell Page, Lester Dent.
Howard, Lovecraft and Smith.
Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett.
Edgar Rice Burroughs.
This is not an exclusive, of course – there’s a lot of earlier and later authors that I love, but the pulpsters always had a special spot in my heart (wherever that happens to be).
The idea of a lone writer, sitting at his desk, hammering out stories at breakneck pace to pay the bills while outside of his window the Great Depression rages on always fascinated me.

And indeed, it sounds exciting, when it’s happening to others.

Right now, I’m in the same condition.
Having spent two years “out of the loop” to take care of my father, I am currently without a job.
My father’s illness and subsequent death left me with a lot of bills to pay, a mortgaged house, and no money in the bank.
This last month I’ve been looking for a new job – any kind of job, this being an emergency – and in the meanwhile I kept writing and translating.
Writing and translating is paying my bills.
And keeps me chained to the keyboard, while outside my window the countryside is sun-baked and dreary, and the Depression rages – no jobs to be found, no assistance, no services, no state. Only taxes2.


But I wrote and I translated, and the trickle of cash kept me afloat.
And, like that guy that jumped from the tenth floor kept repeating while the floors zinged by, so far so good… so far so good… so far so good…
They say it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop.

Here I am trying to keep going.
As long as I can, I’m not giving in.

And now, back to our regular – if highly erratic – schedule…

Oh, and if you know someone that needs a translator, tell’em to call me.
I’m cheap.


  1. my reply was, of course, that I trust the smarts of my readers helping them tell the difference between a sword & sorcery story featuring undead Egyptian wizards and a paper in a peer-reviewed journal on dead plankton. 
  2. and to be fair, I was surprised, and moved, by the number of wonderful people I have met in this month, and that helped without asking. It was absolutely incredible, and the sort of thing that saves one’s soul.
    Did I meet a fair number of scumbags? Granted. But those are not worth remembering. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “It’s not the fall that kills you…

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