East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Change the plans, reschedule the schedule


So everything was perfectly planned, OK. With calendar, timetables, outlines, the works.
The month of July was thoroughly mapped: a week to nail closed the Sherlock Holmes story I owe to my publisher, then three shorts under my various aliases, and then some spare time to finally complete the first draft of a short novel I’ve had laying here for a while.
Perfectly planned. Nice and Smooth.

Then everything went completely hiwire, on day one: July the first, 7.30 am. Bang!

It went like this – and yes, this is going to be long and convoluted, as my mental processes… you’re welcome.

Last week something happened that pissed me off completely.
You probably caught bits of it on the news, or maybe not, so, the short form: a research vessel in the Mediterranean picked up a bunch of castaways, people trying to get into Europe illegally. The captain of the ship decided upon a certain line – basically, run the blockade of the Italian ports. This is against the law (big surprise), and she will be prosecuted. The matter is in the hands of the judges.
We are not here to discuss politics or international/maritime laws, so I will not get into the politics of the thing – also because the thing that royally pissed me off has nothing to do with politics or laws, really.

Disclaimer: say “blockade runner”, and I forget about politics anyway, and roll out the Jolly Roger. I’m a simple guy.

The thing is, a lot of people criticized the captain not for her choices and decisions, but because she is, quote, “white, rich and German.”
And here I could joke and say that’s not her fault if she’s German, but this is no laughing matter to me. This is people deciding because of skin color, social status/wealth or nationality, what someone can do and what they can’t, interpreting their actions based on race and wealth: Come on, she’s rich and white (and German!), she’s got good schooling, she obviously saved those African bastards because she’s trying to catch the limelight…

I hate this kind of attitude, and I hate that people taking this stance call themselves “progressives”. This is racism masquerading as holier-than-thou moral superiority. Screw this!
It’s like, I thought, if you’re in Mediterranean and your boat starts leaking, you better hope Captain Katanga’s in the vicinities because he’s the only one that’s morally entitled to rescue you.

In case you missed him, Simon Katanga is the captain of the Bantu Wind, the cargo that tries to smuggle Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood out of Egypt. We’re talking Raiders of the Lost Ark.

So, OK, I posted an image of Captain Katanga on my Facebook profile – the sort of joke I’m the only one to get, but that’s all right.

And my friend Adam came over and noted that Captain Katanga deserved his own movie.
And I can only agree. A boatload of badass African smugglers punching Nazis all over the Seven Seas?
I’m in.

I am so in, in fact, that I started thinking it would be a great story to write. A ragtag crew, an old cargo, the Mediterranean in the 1930s…
And yes, why not, throw in some ancient artifacts, some ancient mysteries.
Marseilles, Tangiers, Alexandria, Beirut, Istanbul, Malta, Naples.
A time of turmoil, with lots of people trying to run from one place or another, with winds of war blowing, with a HUGE black economy based on contraband and other shady practices.
The Spanish Civil War.
And an extra serving of Nazis and Blackshirts as cannon fodder, and even more sinister (!!) pulp-oriented figures – crime lords, crazy (and obviously French) archaelogists, femmes fatales…

The fishing boats go out across the evening water,
Smuggling guns and arms across the Spanish border.
The wind whips up the waves so loud,
The ghost moon sails among the clouds,
And turns the rifles into silver,
On the border.

You can see where this is going, right?
I’ve tracked down a pair of maps from the time (main cruise-ship routes! Traveling times!), and I’m pooling my resources.
I physically need to write this.

Obviously I will have to change names and details because the lawyers of LucasFilms (or is it Disney now? – fear the Rat God!) scare me a lot more than any fictional masermind or creature. But apart from that… why not?
A crew of misfits and marginalized characters, putting their skills and their courage together to beat the system and make a buck. Men and women from Africa, the Middle East, the odd Italian (there is always an Italian somewhere, right?)
Play against type, subvert a few cliches…
It might be fun.
It will be fun.
It has completely disrupted my carefully planned schedule, but it will be a lot of fun.
Once again the going is uncharted.

I’ll need to find a way to sneak a dinosaur or an Egyptian mummy in there somewhere…

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.

4 thoughts on “Change the plans, reschedule the schedule

  1. It’s a great premise. Good luck with your July writing no matter which project you work on!


  2. you might put in a sort of Walt Lucas bad guy type dying in some horrible way 😀

    just don’t even think to let it out under alias or I’ll feed you to uncle Walt minions for revenge.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.