East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The Lost City of the Mayan Snake Kings

“A vast, hidden network of cities, fortifications, farms and highways has been found hidden beneath the trees of the remote Guatemalan jungle.”

You can read the whole article here.


Now, this is the sort of news that really make me feel good. I was 18 when a lecturer in my high school told me and my mates

“in the Real World anything worth discovering has been discovered already… the future is in stock trading, not in archaeology or geology.”

It was 1985.
I hope the guy is still alive, but he’s probably in some nursing home eating apple puree and watching all-afternoon reality shows and he won’t get the news about the recent discovery of (get this)

the lost jungle city of the Mayan Snake Kings

Say it out loud, let the syllables roll on your tongue…

the lost jungle city of the Mayan Snake Kings


The world is still large, and uncharted and full of surprises. We have bandits and warlords on the Silk Road, lost cities in the Amazon, strange beasts from the oceanic depths and the looming menace of runaway Artificial Intelligence.
And they are starting to market sex bots.

So here’s a toast to all those that sneered and acted superior, and rambled on about The Real World(TM). May they never wake up – the shock would kill’em.

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An Egyptian past

I was born and grew up in Turin.
I love Turin, it’s my city, I have a lifetime of memories rooted in the city. A lot of my friends and the little that remains of my close family reside in Turin.
I went to school there, I went to the movies, I dated— you get the picture.


Now, according to a rather apocryphal story, Turin was founded by the Ancient Egyptians.
I kid you not… Continue reading



The Garbo Blogathon: Queen Christina (1933)

She is certainly the most iconic movie star of all time, and this is the Greta Garbo Blogathon, hosted by IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD.
As usual, I invite you to point your browsers to the blogathon page for a complete list of the participating blogs and a lot of great articles about Garbo and her movies.


And once you’re done, come back here, because we are going the swashbuckler way again— well, sort of.
We’re gonna talk about the 1933 pre-Code classic, Queen Christina. Continue reading



Hanging Out with Apep

Selection_913When in need of an evil Egyptian god for fiction, while Set certainly has a worse reputation, most authors go for Anubis. It makes sense: the Jackal God is popular, got a super-cool look, and I can find tons of visual references.
And then, hey, he’s the God of Death, right?
I can quote a lot of resources in that sense, from Roger Zelazny to Johnny Quest by way of Young Sherlock Holmes, Bram Stoker and Valerie Leon.
Fact is, it doesn’t work that way. Anubis, aka Anpu, aka Inpu, sometimes also known as Hermanubis, is the protector of the souls of the dead. He’s not the bad guy, he’s with the good guys! Let that sink in, and then tell me again why fanatics with daggers should serve him.
And really, apart from the philological elements, Anubis as the dark god of Egypt’s been done to death. Which is, I realize, somewhat ironic.

So, when outlining AMARNA, I looked up a few other Usual (Egyptian) Suspects.
And for my money, you want a bad guy in Egyptian myth? Go for Apophis. The Stargate SG1 guys got the snake right.
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Shanghai Under Fire


The snippet above is the opening of Shanghai Under Fire: July 1937 – March 1938, a 120-pages book published by the Shanghai Evening Post and Mercury that provides a day-by-day breakdown of what came to be known as The Battle of Shanghai.


You can find relatively cheap reprints on Amazon, or a digitized copy in the Internet Archive, which is the one I am using right now. Continue reading


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The case of the stolen brainbox

And talking about using this place where I live as an inspiration for stories: two nights ago somebody stole the brain of a saint.
I’m not kidding.

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