Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The WorldCon Paradox

Back in 2007 I was supposed to attend the WorldCon – the annual World Science Fiction Convention – in Japan. I was all set, I had saved my money and I was planning on meeting old and new friends and have a wonderful time. Then my mother died, and everything changed.
In recent years, the Convention was hosted in Europe – last year in Ireland – but my finances were not up to the challenge.
And this year?
The 2020 WorldCon will take place in New Zealand – exactly on the other side of the world to where I live – and to the roughly 250 euro of membership fee, I should add about 2000 euro of air fare and food & lodging. Unthinkable.

But then the Coronavirus happened, and now the organizers of the New Zealand convention have announced they’ll move everything online – the 2020 WorldCon will take place in cyberspace.
Which means no travel ticket, no food & lodging, and a reduced membership fee. And so here’s the paradox: I might attend my first WorldCon in the year when it happens on the other side of the world.

I am waiting for the announcement of the new rates and details – but I’ve said jokingly with some friends that we should pitch a few panels and give a few presentations. And I am joking only up to a point. It would be fun to be able and do it.

Meanwhile, I’ve set up yet another piggy bank, to pay for this strange cyberspace adventure.
Let’s see what happens.


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Back to the Hollow Earth

I mentioned how this whole lockdown thing has not impacted dramatically my lifestyle – I can be worried about my income as projects are fizzing out and it looks like we’ll have a long dry summer and a cold winter, but my day-to-day routine and my general activities are the same as they have been since 2013.

Case in point: roleplaying games.
I have been playing with a regular team since the early ’90s, and when I moved to the countryside, 80 miles from our gaming table, I moved my games online. At the time I was still accessing the web via my coal-powered, copper-cable system, and the games where a chore. Paradoxically, when I finally landed a good, stable, high-volume connection, my old team fizzed out, and I remained player-less.

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The first 25.000

Today I delivered the first half of a book I was supposed to have finished and published in time for the Turin Book Fair in May. Niche-but-intriguing historical essay by an up-and-coming publisher, with my name smack on the cover, possibly with a live presentation, Q&A, signing session, the works.

But the Fair was cancelled – or postponed to a date yet to be established, and today I delivered the first 25.000 words.
I was supposed to deliver the whole shebang, but I decided to take the weekend off to try and recharge my batteries.

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Quarantine reads: Cherryh and Hodgell, and Block

I decided I will devote some time in this quarantine period to read three series that have been on my radar for ages, now, and I have always kept for later – one of them, indeed, comes from one of my emergency boxes, the stashes of paperbacks I sometimes buy (especially when I find a good special offer) and save for the hard times.
Well, the hard times are here, so here we go.

I normally don’t like series anymore – as I grow old, I found out I prefer standalone novels, novellas, or series of short stories. But these cases are different. These are three series of which I have already read the first volume, and they are the work of three authors I greatly admire – so, no risk there, right?

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Rationing

The news is that various areas in Italy are reaching the peak diffusion of the virus, and therefore the lockdown will be further restricted. Yesterday a wild story was circulated about army checkpoints and anti-contamination kits being distributed, one per family, and a lot of other rubbish. Easy to debunk, but a lot easier to spread, given the current psychological state of the citizens.
People fabricating such stories should be sent to clean the bedpans of the sick in the hospitals.

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Dreams

No, not the Fleetwood Mac song.
Ever since I was a kid, during highly stressful times I either get insomnia, or I have the strangest, most distracting dreams. As I think I have mentioned in the past, a lot of these dreams take place in the same locale, a white city that is sometimes completely deserted.
Two nights ago it was not.

And yes, I also hate those people that go and tell you about their dreams, so I think it OK should you decide to stop reading here.

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