East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Too old for Young Indiana Jones, too young to die

Yesterday I mentioned that there are things in the past that should be let to rest – case in point, the pseudo-science/UFOs/ancient mysteries books of the seventies, that I loved as a kid and now find insufferable.

Another case in point – The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, the spin-off series telling us the early exploits of Henry Jones Jr., before he went looking for the Lost Ark… and even before a number of the tie-innovels.

I re-watched the a few episodea yesterday night.
Goodness was it boring! Continue reading




1699714I was reflecting today that a lot of non-fantasy fiction authors I love, I met before in articles and essays than in stories.
Case in point: Max Allan Collins.
I first met this extremely prolific writer in a collection of essays called The Fine Art of Murder – which I bought massively discounted in 1994 in a bookstore that no longer exists, in Turin. The only library I was thrown out of – but that’s another story.

The Fine Art of Murder is an excellent book, by the way.
Just as excellent as much of what I read by Collins.
And I am a fan of his Quarry series. Continue reading

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Ill-begotten prizes

I just received a great gift from my friend Silvia, that I am assisting as researcher and gopher on a series of blog posts about “Ugly but Cool Guys” – sort of a complete reversal of the “Hunk of the Week” sort of thing many bloggers of the female persuasion seem to like.

Anyway, this is not a job, it’s having fun with a friend, so I was none too happy of being paid for it.
But Silvia insisted, and so, why not ask her to keep me into reading matter for the duration?

And today, the postman delivered the first of my ill-begotten, undeserved prize – a copy of the 2014/2015 issue of Blood’n’Thunder, Ed Hulce’s wonderful magazine about the pulps, old time serials and related matters.
And boy is it a beauty!


As you can see from the cover, the 260 large-format book includes a ton of quite interesting stuff – not only on the history of the pulps, but from the history of the pulps.
I am particularly interested in the 1929 H. Bedford-Jones piece about the life as a pulp writer, and “Cap” Shaw’s article on writing dialogue from the pages of Black Mask.

So yes, I’m as happy as a kid on Christmas morning.
And I wanted you guys to know.


Sax Rohmer’s Sumuru in Space

Yesterday, taking a pause from my writing to enjoy a serving of chocolate cake, I watched one of the worst movies I ever saw.
And I saw plenty of bad movies.

The thing is called Sax Rohmer’s Sumuru, it was shot in 2003 and it goes more or lesslike this…

If you are perplexed, so was I.
And if you are not, let me bring you up to speed… Continue reading


Humphrey and Lauren’s First Time: To Have and Have Not (1944)

I spent about two hours in the company of Bogart and Bacall.
To have and Have Not in Italian was called Acque del Sud (Southern Waters), and it was one of those movies that once were a staple of afternoon programming, before TV stations discovered the joys of reality and talent shows.

Of course, To have and Have Not is Faulkner adapting Hemingway (that’s TWO Nobel-prize winners for the price of one), and Howard Hawks directing.
You can’t get any better than that.The plot is thin – and there’s not much of the original stories by Hemingway in it – but there are a number of elements that make this one of my favorite movies. Continue reading


Other people’s pulps: Adèle Blanc-Sec

I knew about Adèle well before I saw the movie.
The Jacques Tardi series of comics called The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec had been one of the many I had discovered when, in my early years as a university student, I used to spend a lot of time in the bookstores scattered in the center of town.
With its rough, sometimes unpleasant style and its alternating light and dark plots, the series about an early 20th century adventure fiction writer and adventuress featured dinosaurs, Egyptian mysteries, strange conspiracies and retro-technology.
It was great fun, winking and gently mocking a lot of classics, from Verne to Conan Doyle to Leblanc.


And yet, when finally the Adèle Blanc-Sec movie was released in 2010, the first of a proposed trilogy, I caught it on the big screen, and I did not like it.
Or, better, I liked it, but not as much as I had anticipated.

Re-watching the film in the silence and heat of the Astigianistan hills, I finally saw what peeved me all those years ago, and I was sort of reconciled with the movie. Continue reading


Alfonso Azpiri, 1947-2017

Spanish comic artist and illustrator Alfonso Azpiri passed away a few hours ago.
Azpiri was one of the many graphic artists whose works I cherished.
Wikipedia classifies him in the “adult oriented” field, but his stories, that ranged from science fiction to horror, while often incredibly racy, were also a fun mix of caricature and satire, and his pneumatic, big-haired trademark female characters were both sexy and absurd, sultry and silly.


With the character of Lorna, he created a silly, naughty mix of Star Wars and Barbarella.

Here is a small gallery of his works, in memoriam.
And yes, depending on where you are, some of this might be considered NSFW. Continue reading