East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Fear of the Unknown

Yes, I know, this is not an overly original title, and we all have heard or read that classic H.P. Lovecraft quote, from his Supernatural Horror in Literature. They even made a documentary film with that title.
And in case you missed it, the quote is…

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”

H.P. Lovecraft

But I have another quote for you, and it’s as follow…

“I don’t see why I should read this book you mention. I read [Asimov/Heinlein/Tolkien/Howard/King/Lovecraft] back in 19**, and I don’t need to read anything else in the genre, because nothing’s better than that.”

A lot of SF/Fantasy/Horror fans I know

This came up today when I was talking with an old friend, and we wondered why people that should be all for the future, and discovery, adventure and running risks, turns out to be so averse to trying something new.

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Why do you read thrilling adventures and wild stories?

It started with my friend Claire’s latest post – which you can find here.
Go read it.


Contrary to what Claire seems to think, science fiction and fantasy writers get asked quite often why they write what they do.
It’s even worse for horror writers.
Adventure writers tend to get a lot of blank stares.
In general, should you ever reveal to your friends and acquaintances that you are a writer1 and write imaginative fiction, you’ll get asked, basically


The answer, of course, is usually that we write what we like to read. Continue reading


Celebrating the Shadows, 2013

Fact is, reality always takes you by surprise... that's why we need fantasy. To be prepared.

Fact is, reality always takes you by surprise… that’s why we need fantasy.
To be prepared.

(no, not the band that did Apache)

As I mentioned a while back, in this weekend – which marks the birthday of Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price – the idea is to do something to stress and underscore the relevance and dignity of imaginative fction.
Being chiefly a writer, I’ll write.

I call it Imaginative Fiction (using the old catch-all tag coined by Lyon Sprague de Camp).
You can call it horror, fantasy, weird, science fiction, pulp adventure…
You can call it faery tale, myth, folklore…

It is not kid’s stuff.
Oh, granted, kids love it – because kids are curious, and normally don’t give a damn about being perceived as serious, mature or respectable.
They want ideas – they hunger for ideas.
And if you are looking for ideas, fantasy fiction, imaginative tales, are the best spot in which to dig…

With this I do not mean to diss “serious fiction” – as usual my problem is not with mainstream or serious fiction, is with the fools that use it as a token of tribal belonging.

I read <put the author’s name in here>, therefore I’m acceptable.

That’s how “serious books” get sold but never read.

Now, good imaginative fiction is not normally read to fit in.
In school you are mocked and overlooked.
They call you a geek.
Desirable members of the opposite sex won’t date you.
Teachers appreciate the fact that you’re a reader but might point out to your parents that “the kid has too much imagination.”
As if it were a problem – real, serious, dangerous troublemakers are those without imagination, because they normally can think of just one solution to any problem.

And even if you, being a geek, finally find a suitable community – comic book readers, fantasy fans, roleplayers – that’s supposed to be a phase you’ll leave behind when you”grow up” and start thinking about “important things”.
Important thins seem to involve being unhappy because you want them, and then being unhappy because once you get them they are not so hot after all.

But for a fact, imaginative fiction makes us better.

In its deviations from reality, imaginative fiction questions concepts like those “important things”.
Truly, we read these stories, watch these movies, not to escape reality, but to look at it closer from a new, fresh perspective.
We need these narratives not to escape reality, but to fight the need to escape reality.

So, during this weekend I’ll celebrate watching an old movie with dinosaurs in it, and then I’ll read some weird book full of monsters.
Not because it’s cheap escapism – but because there’s a point in surrealism, there’s a strong moral drive in adventure stories, because contemplating the strange it’s easier to understand the mundane, later.

IMMAGINE-1_g4x88jsmSo let’s raise a glass to our three patron saints – men of culture and intellect, that never despided imaginative fiction, and contributed making it popular, and acceptable.
Go read a book.
Go watch some movie.
Dust off the old comics collection.
And teach the younger generations that’s where ideas come from.