East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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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There are two questions that usually pop up during interviews, and they are

  1. Where do you get your ideas?
  2. What authors inspired you to become a writer?

The answer to the first is, of course, Schenectady.
The answer to the second, for me, is a little more complicated – or at least lengthier – because I am convinced that if we are readers – and writers can’t not be readers – then everything we read is a source of inspiration.
This kind of answer usually is interpreted as evasive by interviewers, so I usually have a list of authors I recite like a mantra.

And I thought it might be interesting to write a list, not only of authors, but also of the books by those authors I found inspiring. The books that made me say

THIS! This is what I want to write.

Who knows, maybe you need some reading suggestions for what’s left of summer. Here we go. Continue reading

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Women’s Day and book suggestions

maudfealyHere we go.
It’s the International Woman’s Day, and I thought… why not do a post about women authors I love?
A post about those authors whose books have influenced my writing, setting a very high standard and making me go

“That’s what I want to write! That’s the way I want to write it!”

I did a post, a long time ago, about non-fiction women writers whose influence I felt and still feel.
This time, let’s go for fantasy and science fiction – a limited list, only five names, the ones that are at the top of my list, and without my disrespect for all the fine writers I’ll leave out.
Here’s my top five, in no particular order… Continue reading

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A way out of this

… but I still have a minute for the blog, despite it all.
And today, as I browsed my feeds before starting on the CV-distribution tour again, I chanced upon an interesting video posted on Black Gate.

The video features C.J. Cherryh’s speech and question session at the 2016 Nebula Conference.


Cherryh is one of my favorite authors, and has been since the mid-’80s, when I quickly went through the Morgaine Trilogy and then, hot on its heels, Downbelow Station.
She has been a consistent presence in my reading list ever since, and she’s the first author I normally suggest to friends and relations.

Upon receiving her SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master Award, C.J. Cherryh observed something that resonates strongly with me.

That’s our job… to make people face the future with confidence. With a notion that there is something they can do, and they should be doing it. Because, remember that [we’re] one generation removed from barbarism. People have to believe there’s a reason to keep on keeping on, and this is what we are. We are a romance of the machine. In the time when people declared Romance was dead, we were the despised literature that kept going, and kept inventing, and saying, ‘There’s a way out of this.’

Yes, exactly.
And if it is true that it is very hard to remain an optimist in the face of our everyday life, it is also true that thinking and optimism are the only tools we have handy to keep the darkness at bay. And find a way out of it.

You can find the complete Black Gate post – and the video – here.


Between the desert and the deep blue sea

dune-cover1I’m going through the final push on the first draft of my new novel, a science fiction work that has gone under the working title of Matter/Energy, and later under the tentative title of Nothing Exists Alone.
It’s a big, sprawling hard SF story, which touches upon politics, and environmental sciences, while telling basically a (hopefully!) thrilling adventure yarn. It connects closely with my passion for oceanography, and takes place almost entirely beneath the sea.

And during the weekend I went back to Frank Herbert’s Dune, because I needed to fine tune my writing1 – and Herbert’s novel is a prime example of what I’d like to do, in terms of economy of writing.
Even though I’ll never be as good as Frank Herbert, of course. Continue reading