Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Just kids having fun

You really can’t take a moment off.
Back online, and people are bickering on facebook.
Big news, uh?
Only in this case is something that touches upon my job (for what it is), my livelihood (ditto), and something I like very much, and therefore I consider “my own”.

Now, I have mentioned in the past how Italian politics have been trying to polarize popular culture since at least the fifties – from music mags labelling prog rock as right wing and singer-songwriters as left wing, to the old classic SF is left, fantasy is right, to the opening of “Hobbit Camps” where like-minded individuals could debate the merits of J.R.R. Tolkien, Julius Evola and Mussolini.
It would be silly, and ridiculous, were it not that it creeps into the general perception, it becomes a filter, and you are labelled as a jackbooted right-winger because you listen to Jethro Tull, or a crazed communist because you read Arthur C. Clarke.
The first reaction is laughing, then you realize these people are skewing the general public’s perception of reality. That is always bad.

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Black out

As you are reading this, we are offline – they are doing some maintenance work on the next street, and the whole neighborhood will be off the electrical grid until 2 pm.

So we have a double plan, me and my brother.
If it’s a good day, we’ll go for a long walk.
If it’s foggy or rainy, then Plan B will be stay in and catch up with our reading.

I am trying to put together a Halloween story, and being in the middle of nowhere without electricity is a good source of inspiration.


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My theme is stronger than yours

The market is shifting at a heady speed hereabouts – and if not the market in itself, the way in which the authors marketed themselves. This morning I caught a colleague (an excellent writer, indeed) explaining that his fantasies always tackle strong themes under a thin patina of fantasy adventure. A thin patina that includes “hard knocks”, “big boobs” and “100% fanservice”, probably, considering that up to two days ago the same author was signalling those as the selling points of his fantasies.

This makes me feel infinitely tired, because I am really tired of this constant, desperate, aggressive hustling – writers trying to sell themselves as the answer to this week’s taste: this week is social awareness and “strong themes”, next week might be ultra-violence and mindless mayhem.
If it sells, it’s what I’m doing.
The quality of the story, and the quality of the writing, are becoming meaningless, when instead they might be sufficient to hook the reader.

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Something that should not be done

One should never write about a book before reaching at least the midpoint – how otherwise could we express our opinions in an informed, intelligent way?
But sometimes a little enthusiasm is OK, and so, while my e-reader tells me I am 4% into the book I am currently reading, I think I’ll give it a shout-out, because after forty-odd years spent reading, and reading imaginative fiction, I think I developed a certain instinct.
And this is a good book.

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One short story in one afternoon

Today I am writing a short story.
Big news, you say. Sue me.
A stand-alone one shot, that still has ties with stuff I did in the past. I’m improvising most of it, but I still have a general outline of sorts for the first half. It’s going to be in the 5000/6000 words range.
The plan is to hammer out a first draft, have dinner, and then clean it up. Then I’ll mail it off to the editor, and hope he likes it enough to buy it.
Otherwise, I’ll look for another market.

These days are particularly stressful for a number of motives, and focusing completely on a short story, to be started and finished in one afternoon, is a good way to keep my mind frpm getting caught up in useless worries. There’s problems, and big problems, but problems on which I do not have any control. So, all I can do is wait and see, and face the music.
And try to keep sane.

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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: The Land that Time Forgot

My friend Lucy is doing a Halloween-month series of posts about the Amicus anthology horrors from the ’70s, and talking about the Amicus films, I remembered a pillar of my young education – the Amicus productions of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Novels, The Land that Time Forgot and The People that Time Forgot, plus At The Earth’s Core.
All three movies were directed by Kevin Connor and featured Doug McClure.

So I went and re-watched The Time that Land Forgot, the first and certainly the best of the three movies.

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