East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Delta Green: Extraordinary Renditions

156628And so it is out.
Extraordinary Renditions, the latest collection of stories set in the Delta Green lovecraftian conspiracy universe, is available through RPGNow1, and various other platforms.
The volume was edited by Shane Ivey with Adam Scott Glancy, and it includes the following tales, covering the story of Delta Green through the 20th century …

“The Color of Dust” by Laurel Halbany.
“PAPERCLIP” by Kenneth Hite.
“A Spider With Barbed-Wire Legs” by Davide Mana.
“Le Pain Maudit” by Jeff C. Carter.
“Cracks in the Door” by Jason Mical.
“Ganzfeld Gate” by Cody Goodfellow.
“Utopia” by David Farnell.
“The Perplexing Demise of Stooge Wilson” by David J. Fielding.
“Dark” by Daniel Harms.
“Morning in America” by James Lowder.
“Boxes Inside Boxes” and “The Mirror Maze” by Dennis Detwiller.
“A Question of Memory” by Greg Stolze.
“Pluperfect” by Ray Winninger.
“Friendly Advice” by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan.
“Passing the Torch” by Adam Scott Glancy.
“The Lucky Ones” by John Scott Tynes.
“Syndemic” and an introduction by Shane Ivey.

Extraordinary Renditions was developed as part of a very successful Kickstarter campaign – and I’m extraordinarily proud of being part of this project.
I love the Delta Green setting, and being one of the contributing authors feels like going home.
I made my first sale in the gaming business with a contribution to Delta Green: Coutdown.
I started writing stories in English on the Delta Green Mailing List.
The line up of this collection features a group of excellent writers, some of them good old friends, and some personal icons of mine.

So, yes, I’m extremely happy – and hope you’ll be happy to read this book, too.
It’s a killer.

  1. the package includes mobi, epub, azw3 and pdf versions of the book, so everybody will be happy. 

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Strange, far places

Today is H.P. Lovecraft’s 125th birthday, and here on Karavansara HPL is sort of a patron saint.
Can we really say something new, original and interesting about the Old Gentleman?

Well, I just saw this, posted online, repeatedly.


That’s HPL’s most famous quote, probably.
And while I repeated it often, like some sort of mantra, there is another quote by the Master of Providence that really is my favorite.
The Lovecraft quote, as far as I’m concerned. Continue reading


Meet the Shanhui

According to Chinese bestiaries, such as the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas, a strange creature exists in the wild, which is called the Shanhui …

There is a beast here at Penal-Law Mountain whose form resembles a dog but with a human face. It is adept at throwing things and laughs when it sees people. It is called the Shanhui. It moves speedily like the wind, and if seen by people is an omen that great winds will blow throughout the world.

Now this passage stuck with me as I was looking for creatures for my story, The Ministry of Thunder.
What caught my attention, I think, was the idea of a dog with a human face; hybrid creatures are popular in supernatural and fantasy fiction, and the Shanhui reminded me of Brown Jenkin, from H.P. Lovecraft‘s The Dreams in the Witch House.


And so, the green* devil dog of the ancient Chinese bestiaries entered my book – first as a dire warning, then as a nightmare, then as a beast in the dark, and finally as a dangerous monster trying to… Continue reading


Writing the blues away

The post for today did not go online as planned, due to a web glitch while I uploaded it.
This is bad!
Here’s the belated post.
Sorry sorry sorry.

old-typewriterI’m going through a writing bout – partially caused that my professional life has come to a complete standstill after my PhD dissertation.

So I’m sending CVs around, and writing like there’s no tomorrow.
Because, in all fairness, there could be no tomorrow.

To me, ebooks and author-published stories are really today’s pulp racks.
Which means I suddenly understand in a very hands-on way what being a hack in the golden age of the pulps might actually feel like.
A heady mix of dread and exhilaration.
Ideas come freely, and writing them is easier than usual.
As long as this lasts, I’m on a roll. Continue reading


Finding an alias

secret-identity_designI’m not particularly hot about pen names.
I happen to like the name my father and my mother gave me – and I like to have my achievements marked with my name.

On the other hand, while the vast majority of my colleagues in academia tend to find my activity as a fiction and gaming author perfectly all right, a few sometimes make a face at the idea.

How can you reconcile your work as a scientist and the fact that you write stories about little green men?

Now, disocunting the facts that
a . finding work as a scientist is getting harder by the hour
b . I never wrote a story about little green men

Discounting this, I was saying, I normally reply that I like to think about my readers as smart enough to tell scientific papers from fantasies.
If nothing else, scientific papers tend not to have weapons and monsters in them.
But anyway, it can get hawkward.

Also, should things get really going, an author might need a number of alternate identities in order to place his or her stories on a variety of different markets at the same time – or on the same market!
Henry Kuttner used at least 21 pseudonyms, often appearing with more than one story in the same magazine, under different names.

name-tagSo, what if I wanted to find me a pen name?
Is it enough to open the phone directory at random two or three times, jotting down and mixing&matching first and last names?
Well, not exactly.

First, the author’s name on the cover influences the voice in which the reader perceives the narrative.
That’s why romance stories are usually presented as written by female authors – the female “voice” ringing in the reader’s head is considered more or less a given.

Which makes me wonder – is there a connection between the default “voice” of science fiction and fantasy and the fact that a lot of authors go by their initials?
H.P. Lovecraft. E.R. Burroughs, C.L. Moore, J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, C.J. Cherry…

Second, the name should fit the genre.
Sometimes it’s clear it’s a pen name, so why not use it to reinforce the product?
P.J. Storm does not write the same genre as Mary Walker.

And as we are at it, and we design our pen name as part of our marketing strategy – let’s check if the name’s already in use on the web.
can we use it as part of our email address, of our website URL, of our Twitter or Facebook account?
Will our alter ego be the first to pop up in a Google search?

All of this, plus the fact that we want our alias to be easy to remember, hard to get wrong (ever thought about what it means to be called J. Michael Straczynski, in terms of typos and bad searches?), and fast to sign (who knows, we may make it big with our stories, and find ourselves at conventions signing huge piles of books for the fans*.)

Finally, we should decide if our pen name will be just that – a name – or if we need to create a full alternate character, with a bio, a photo, the works.
This, again, might be part of our marketing strategy.
We are selling not just the story, but the author.

All of which means, it’s a lot of work.
But – with a little luck – I’ll be doing it soon.
If a certain story sells.


* As Blondie used to sing, dreaming is free.


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Hail to the Queen

4902075237.02.LZZZZZZZA quick one, to raise three cheers to the novel Queen of K’n-Yan, by Japan’s foremost supernatural horror author and H.P. Lovecraft scholar, Ken Asamatsu.
The novel – published in the Kathleen Taji English translation by the fine guys at Kurodahan Press –  is finally available in ebook format, and it is highly recommended – a heady mix of science fiction, ancient mysteries and Lovecraftian Mythos, set in a finely detailed Japanese setting.
One of the best Lovecraftian horrors out there, subtly disquieting and deeply suggestive.
An ancient mummy, biogenetic experimentation, old military experiments, horror, madness and a dark shadow extending over humanity’s future.
Fast, furious, and scary in a very unusual way.
Great introduction by Darrell Schweitzer.
Stunning cover.
Highly recommended indeed.