Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Trigger, by Courtney Alameda

Having happily completed BUSCAFUSCO:  Fun & Games, and while I let it rest for a few hours before I hand it over to the Amazon oompa loompas, I decided to award myself a little diversion. And as far as A Job Well Done treats go, the Tor.com ebooks are absolutely perfect.

In case you missed them, these are stories – in the novelette/novella range – published as ebooks for cheap by the digital branch of Tor Books, purveyors of fine imaginative fiction.
They offer a wide selection of authors and genres within the science fiction/fantasy field, both well established and up-and-coming, and they are both a great, quick, affordable read and an excellent way to remain current with the latest authors and trends in the field.  

So I splurged 83 eurocents and got me a copy of Courtney Alameda’s Trigger, a tough and yet finely nuanced horror tale set in a San Francisco infested by a number of strange creatures.
The Helsing family is charged with commanding the special units of Harkers that hunt down and kill the monsters.
The story mixes horror and action, features a number of easter eggs for horror fans, and delivers a promising worldbuilding. The ebook promises a folow-up to this short piece, in the form of a novel, and I’ll be there to read it as soon as it’s out. 
In the meantime, Trigger is quite fun, and a perfect way to finish a long night of writing and insomnia.   


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Typewriters

The reason I like typewriters is, exactly like bicycles, they are a sort of hands-on technology. You can actually get to work on them using a screwdriver and a wrench, get your hands dirty, set them straight if they break. Works for PCs and old cars, too – but not for smartphones and recent automobiles. And let’s not get started on the issue of software.

There is actually a spreading grassroots movement that demands manufacturers to allow access to the tech of their products, so that they can be repaired and updated instead of thrown away and replaced. It’s an interesting approach, and it has my full support. My grandfather was a tinkerer, and he taught me it’s OK to get your hands dirty while fine tuning a piece of machinery.

I think this approach also applies at the way I write, but let’s save that for another time. Let’s talk typewriters.

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A good day for my stories

Yesterday was a good day for my stories, and for my writing in general, for a series of quite unusual reasons.

First I got an excellent review – really, really flattering – for my story The Smell of Empty Places, the cover story in the collection Dark Italy by Acheron Books.
This is particularly pleasant because, first, the praise comes from a well respected colleague, and it is always good to be praised by people in our own tribe; and second, the English version of the story is currently being considered for a reprint in a Canadian anthology – and receiving such a brilliant review makes me hope for the best. 

Next, I was mentioned in a list of Italian sword & sorcery authors, thanks to my Asteria Chronicles, and that led to a few sales for some pretty old titles. Let’s hope it fosters a return of interest in Asteria by the Italian readers, as two more stories are about to hit the Italian-language market. 
The fun bit is, the list originally did not include me (apparently I am not good enough), but it was reprinted by a blog, and the blogger decided to add my name and my work to the list (because apparently, I am good enough).
It was extremely kind on his part.
Incidentally, the fourth Asteria story went on the back-burner for a while, but I’ll make sure it gets published by Christmas, or by New Year’s Eve at the latest.

Then – and here things get pretty weird – someone sent a paperback copy of my collection of historical sketches, La Storia Fatta coi Cialtroni, to an unsuspecting recipient.
Yes, basically, this lady I do not know received a copy of a book of mine from an anonymous, and she posted about it on Facebook. The good news is, she is actually liking the book very much.
Now I can only hope the mysterious book-bomber keeps up the good work and keeps pushing my books on the unsuspecting public.
A little extreme, as a publicity stunt, but you’ll have to admit it’s pretty original. 

And finally, I got commissioned a few more articles by a high class magazine, and am now doing a bit of historical research. 

All in all, quite a good day.


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Night sky

There’s a comet in the sky, and it will be at its brightest next week, which is fitting, considering Christmas is approaching and all that. A good opportunity to carry outside my telescope and some hot chocolate, and spend a few hours watching. The comet is called 46P/Wirtanen, and it is not visible in the naked eye except in really clear sky/no lights areas; but otherwise can actually be spotted with a good pair of binoculars.

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Spring & BUSCAFUSCO

I am currently about 5000 words into the new BUSCAFUSCO novella, called Fun & Games. The ideas for the new cases had been laying in the back of my mind for months, and I needed a vacation. I plan to have the story finished soon-ish, other engagements permitting.

Writing to calls from publishers is fun and it’s – hopefully – profitable, but sometimes the constraints are too tight. It’s good to open a file and just let the ideas and dialogues pour out, let well-established characters do their thing, take life and run away with the story. And BUSCAFUSCO’s is one of my favorite in this sense. There is a simple formula, there is a cast of characters I am familiar with and I like to write about, there is the Belbo Valley as a venue, an inexhaustible source of strange ideas and weird crimes.

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