East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Have you seen the stars tonight?

This post is about the intersection of ancient history, poetry and science. It is the sort of thing I love, and I decided to share – and I think this is perfectly on topic1.

Let’s start with the ancient world.
One thing we often forget, as we live in our cities, is how dramatic and impressive the night sky must have been to the ancients.
And this not because we know the stars are thermonuclear furnaces burning in the void, light-years away, and they had no idea.
No, the reason is simply that they had darkness – no electric lights, no great cities filled with neons and light.
To the ancient, the night was dark, and the stars were many, and bright and clear in the night sky2.



The ancients navigated by the stars, tried to predict the future and interpret fate by the stars, and in general looked up and wondered. Continue reading

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More Italian Style

marriage-italian-style_01Talking about Italian style in imaginative fiction, last week I was part of a debate about what makes Italian genre fiction Italian.
Me and the other authors currently published by Acheron Books were asked to propose a four points guideline, a best practices hit list.

An interesting challenge.
Being the sort of contrary guy I am, I started by pointing out that I do not believe there’s a set of Italian guidelines that differ drastically from, say,¬† Chinese guidelines, Indian guidelines or Canadian guidelines.
What the reader is ultimately interested in is a good story, and good stories do not follow provincial guidelines.

This said, where I to single out four points that, as an Italian, I strive to keep in mind when writing, well, here’s the list, somewhat expanded to explain each point as best as I can… Continue reading


Dravot & Peachy

mankingYesterday afternoon we were discussing favorite adventure movies, with some friends online, and John Huston‘s The Man Who Would be King came up.

I saw the movie in the Colosseo cinema, in Via Madama Cristina, in Turin, in 1976, with my mother and my grandmother.
I wonder if today they’d let a not-yet-ten-years-old kid in the cinema to watch a movie that features (according to the current advisory)

Sex and Nudity, Violence and Gore, Profanity, Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking, and Frightening/Intense Scenes.

Quite a package, and without mentioning British imperialism.
But those were different times, I guess1. Continue reading


Writing on a dare

CornettoEtCappuccinoOk, it went like this – I was wasting time yesterday morning, on Facebook, having a friendly chat with some author/publisher friends, here in the old C Block of the Italian Blogsphere.
We were talking original ideas, imitation as tribute and nuisance, and all those things, while each one of us was having breakfast at home (isn’t this web-thingie just great?)
Anyway, we were chatting away and sipping cappuccinos, and I really don’t know how it happened, honest, but one thing led to another, and…

So I bet the guys I can write a fantasy novelette in a weekend, and self-publish it on Amazon Kindle in less than a week.
And not only that!
Being an overconfident fool, I bet I can write a novelette that will be the first in a series, featuring a new setting and a new character.

And yes, this is stupid.
I mean, it’s the weekend, it’s summer, there’s 40+ degrees and 90% humidity, I have two deadlines approaching…
Ah! Continue reading


Finding a Title

aculeo&amunetNobody appreciates the problems of a sword & sorcery writer.

Right now, I’m putting the finishing touches on the next Aculeo & Amunet book.
Granted, two stories still need to be edited, but I see the finish line, and I’m pretty happy: after two novelettes published as stand-alone ebooks, I’m going for a collection – the next A&A outing will include four stories

  • Mirror of Amunet
  • The Witch with Green Eyes
  • Island of the Goat
  • The Crypts of Eskishaar

Three short stories and a novelette. Continue reading