East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Imperial plots: Devin Madson’s “In Shadow We Fall”

After too many weeks during which writing had felt like a lost art to me, writing a 3000-words historical article in one afternoon was a great way to clean the rust off the engines, and show I can still do it, and it’s fun. So while new projects shift and move around, I decided to celebrate my renewed energies, and bought myself an ebook.

One of the best things of the last few years is the increasing number of fantasies being published that break away from the standard European model, roughly Tolkienesque or Howardian, and choose an Eastern setting.

And I will not be the one that complains – first, because as an Orientalist Anonymous, I have always loved Eastern fantasies and have written some myself (and I hope to write more), but also, variety is always a sign of good health – and if the field is in good health, we have all reason to be happy.

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Back to the Tablelands for the holidays

This morning, after a somewhat surreal misadventure with the local bus service – about which I’ll post, maybe, another day – I went and dug out my one-volume Italian edition of Troy Denning’s Prism Pentad – the five novels set in the old AD&D setting known as Dark Sun. The thing is like a dictionary, a small-print, bullet-proof hardback that weights two kilograms, and that will make reading in bed a health hazard.

The reason I decided to go back to Dark Sun is somehow connected with a future writing project (remember what I told you? Announce you’ll write your own things, and new gigs pop up like that) , but as I am doing research and taking notes, I thought I might one day set up a game, to have a little fun with my friends.

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Oversleeping and nature books

I’m going through one of my usual rough patches of insomnia – and these days, one doesn’t know anymore if it’s plain vanilla insomnia, or if it’s pandemic-stress-related insomnia, or something else.
Anyway, the end result is that I stay up all night, and then in the morning I feel like a zombie. This morning I went to sleep at 5 am, and woke up at three pm.

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Shoreline of Infinity #19

I am pleased to announce that the next issue of the award-winning magazine Shoreline of Infinity, number 19, will feature a short story of mine (and also an awful lot of other incredible stuff).
The magazine will be out on the 30th of the month, but you can already pre-order it.

My story is a short piece called Singularity, about crocheting and higher dimensions – and I am rather proud of it.

Shoreline of Infinity is a beautiful magazine, and you can get it from their website, both as an ebook or as a gorgeous paperback.
Check it out.

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Back in the saddle: the return of the Horseclans

Back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth – i.e., the early ’80s – I was for a while a member of a science fiction and fantasy fans club. Apart from regular meetings that I was not able to attend, because they were held 500 kms from where I lived, and I was fifteen, and broke, I received a bi-monthly magazine that featured stories, art, articles and reviews.
The most interesting part for me were the reviews – especially the three or four pages devoted to a roundup of what noteworthy titles had been recently published in the USA. The plots, the titles and the covers were the stuff that dreams were made of.

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In the good old time of the Caesars

I’ve just caught a bunch of thirty-something guys (and a few gals) waxing nostalgic about the good old days of the Roman Empire, when Rome was, you know, “caput mundi” – the head of the world.

And now don’t get me wrong – I love history, and I’ve set a few stories in late Roman times, and all that, but it still makes me shiver when I see younger people clearly get all excited about the idea of walking across other people’s lives wearing nailed sandals.

You listen to these people, missing the Roman laws and the law and order a nice dose of Roman Legions would bring, and you wonder how they get their shoes tied, and what goes on in their lives.

Maybe it comes from the fact that when I was born, it was less than a quarter of a century since a poor distorted photocopy of the Empire had failed horribly, but not before involving my people in a war – on the side of the Nazis, of all things – and being a willing and enthusiastic accessory in the killing of thousands of our fellows citizens because they were considered less than human.
Maybe it’s this, yes.

And I find it curious that these staunch supporters of an Empire that’s been gone for eighteen centuries (excepting poor copies thereof), are also strongly against the European Community and the Eurozone, and will shout about dictatorship when asked to wear a surgical mask to protect their fellow citizens.
People that are in favor of the rule of law, as long as they are exempted.

But ah, the good old days of gladiatorial games and crucifying dissidents!

And so I thought I’ll go back to reading a few Bran Mak Morn stories, just because with such supporters of the Empire rutting about, I feel like going to the other side. And then I might finally go and re-read Talbot Mundy’s Tros of Samothrace. Maybe posting regularly about it here on the blog.
Let’s stick it to the (Roman) Man!

But I don’t like the vibes I am getting from the people out there – well, some of them, at least. There is darkness gathering out there, and it’s going to be a long cold winter.
Stay safe.


Heroic or not?

Turns out a debate opened, on Facebook or thereabouts, two days ago, about the fact whether Howard’s Conan stories are sword & sorcery or heroic fantasy.
Because that’s an important thing, you see.
To some.

I was not present when the thing started, but apparently a friend referring to Conan as sword & sorcery caused somebody’s knicks to get in a twist.
Which is interesting, because everything started from a discussion about Fritz Leiber (him again), and we all know – or should know – that the label of Sword & Sorcery was coined by Leiber when Moorcock asked him about a tag for “the sort of fantasy stories Robert E. Howard wrote”.
It was 1961, the venue was the fanzine Amra.

So, the point should be moot, and yet… is there a difference?

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