East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


They do not fight enough. As if I cared.

In the last six months or so I’ve heard harsh criticism leveled at a number of books…

  • Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun
  • Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast
  • Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster’s Trilogy
  • Robert Silverberg’s Lord Valentine’s Castle
  • Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar novels
  • J.B. Cabell’s Jurgen
  • John Crowley’s Little Big

Books that spend too much time in useless description, with little or no action, and characters that spend more time talking than fighting. My usual answer, “What, then?” usually receives strange looks.

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Maureen O’Hara’s Birthday

Yeah, I know, I said I’d take the weekend off and not post, but then, stuff keeps happening.
And today it’s the birthday of beautiful, spirited and talented Maureen O’Hara, Miss Technicolor herself, and one of the part-time muses of Karavansara as she is the one that coined the term Tits & Sand.

So tonight I think I’ll watch Sinbad the Sailor one more time.


Down the Nile on a steamboat

So it went like this. this morning, about one hour after posting the previous post in which I said I’m all out of time, overworked and juggling a lot of projects at the same time, I went and pitched a story to a magazine – and in half an hour I got a reply and a go ahead.
It’s not yet a sale, but it’s a new project with very good legs on which to stand.

Why did I do it if I’m so overworked?
Well, because it was a perfect opportunity to write a story I’ve been sitting on for six months now. Because I know and respect the editors. Because I live with this constant fear that the money will run out, and so I take as many paid gigs as I can get.

But let’s admit it – a five-lines pitch being approved like that is good for the ego. I am told that bragging about such things is in poor taste, but what the heck, it looks like I’m good after all.

So here now I am taking a break from my writing for a cup of tea, and meanwhile doing some lightweight research for my new project… and why not share?

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Beyond the fence with Ken Hite: The Fall of Delta Green

This year’s GenCon was a triumph for Call of Cthulhu, and in particular for Delta Green – and Kenneth Hite’s The Fall of Delta Green won the Best Setting Ennie Award.
A well deserved award, I think.

I have been a long-time fan of Delta Green – some of my material was published in some old handbooks, and one of my stories appears in a Delta Green collection, and I have met some of my best friends in the Delta Green underground at the turn of the century.
More: I have started writing fiction in English because of Delta Green – now you know who you can blame.
The Fall of Delta Green looks to me like the perfect celebration for an adventure I started twenty years ago.

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Madama Lucrezia: a very small case of synchronicity

I was writing this morning. I am currently juggling writing and translating, and today is a morning writing/afternoon translating sort of day.
So I was writing this scene for the next 4 Against Darkness novella, and the characters are starting to explore the strange place where I placed them.

I wrote

“It was the sculpture of a young woman, her simple dress flowing, her hair in a tall do. The weather had erased her features, making her face a blank. A few fingers of her outstretched hands were missing.”

Myself – WIP

Not a great description, not a sample of superb writing, but after all, it’s a first draft.

At the same moment, my friend Dal – who is a fine artist and lives in Rome – was taking a walk around the ancient city after breakfast, enjoying the quiet and the sights, and took this photo…

… and he posted it on Facebook.
This is called Madama Lucrezia, and is apparently a minor but well beloved landmark in Rome. I never knew about it, of course.

Now this is quite a coincidence – the passage above and the photo happened within a few minutes one from the other.
And I’ll take it as a sign my story is going in the right way.
(I’ll obviously revise the description to make my statue more similar to miss Lucrezia in the final draft)