East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Do you get emails from Amazon?
I do.
About once a week, I find in m y mailbox a mail that says, more or less…

Greetings, Consumer!
based on your previous purchases, we think you might also like…

And what follows is a list of books I have already purchased from Amazon, plus maybe one or two of my own books. On special days, the algorithm also throws in an esoteric kitchen tool and maybe some instant noodles.

But the latest “you might also like” mail was special, because the Amazon algorithm decided I might be interested in this…

Yes, it’s a book of mine (available in Italian only, sorry rest of the world!)
You know, ancient Rome, Aegyptian curses, conspiracies, legionaries… the usual.

And yes, it’s out today.

And no, I did not know anything about it.

I was not informed the book had been published – and indeed already sold during the Lucca Comics & Games fair this past Halloween.
I did not see the galleys.
I did not get a complimentary copy.
Or an ebook.

Google reveals that the book was also presented during a live streaming panel, in November – but I was not informed, or invited to participate, and when the panel was announced on Facebook nobody tagged me, and therefore another algorithm decided not to show me any notification.
And no, there was nothing in my spam folder, either.

And yes, the cover is great, and carries my name and the IP house name, so that it looks like I wrote this with someone else.

And finally yes, this is deeply humiliating, because the book I spent the whole summer of 2022 writing has been out there three months now, and I only learned about it because the Amazon suggestions algorithm sucks.

I will not put a commercial link here, because as I said the book is only available in Italian.
It’s likely to be my last novel to be.

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Curse of the Pharaoh

cover89385-mediumI must admit I was rather skeptical when I started reading I.L. Cohen’s Tuthankamun’s Curse Solved, the first volume in a series called Research in Egyptology.
The legend of the ancient pharaoh’s curse has been done to death ever since the 1970s, and as a kid of the ’70s I was exposed to a number of pseudo-scientific books that were great fun and excellent fodder for my Cal of Cthulhu games, but were sometimes a little jiggly when it came to science.

I.L. Cohen’s research, if nothing else, is presented in a well-documented, believable way, and if some of the researcher’s conclusions are still pretty wild1, some of the arguments that this book raises are worth be explored further.

Based on modern analysis of both the reports of the mysterious deaths of many of the Carter/Carnarvon expedition, and a lot of other sources about the deaths of many aegyptologists, and some of their finds, Cohen comes to the conclusion that radiation could be the cause.
The Egyptian archaeological record could be filled, according to the author, with evidence for massive, widespread radioactive pollution and consequent deaths.
He also proposes – and here is where I get a bit skeptical again – the existence of an elite in Egyptian society that knew about radiations and their effects, and that basically handled nuclear emergencies in ancient times.
From here on, things get wilder, but in a scientific, well-documented, somewhat believable way.

The book is very good, well written and filled with informations, quotes and extracts from classical studies, and it is both entertaining and thought-provoking2.

  1. in my opinion, of course, and I am just an armchair archaeologist. 
  2. the sort of I-must-write-a-story-about-this tought-provoking, which is just fine.