East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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So you’ve got a cold.
The world – or at least a fair chunk of it – is going bonkers, and you’re going through one of your usual bouts of insomnia.
It’s three am and you’re unable to stream the new Lupin TV series.
Your house is cold as a Viking hell, and you don’t feel like writing.
What better opportunity to back-up your data and then update your operating system?

Fast forward to seven hours later.
You are trying to roll-back a failed update, while your PC refuses to connect to the web.
You start thinking that this year 2021 is going to give 2020 a run for its money.
You are cursing ancient Lovecraftian gods.

Then, thankfully, your computer programmer brother finds a way to get your LAN working again, you go online and the roll-back fails, but now you can try the update again, and it sort of works.
You have the whole afternoon to re-install the bits that are missing.

Your PC works – and it’s the perfect time to find out that all of your backed up data was lost, because the portable HD you used acted up. You have a fine collection of empty folders.

The weekend will never come too soon.

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Oversleeping and nature books

I’m going through one of my usual rough patches of insomnia – and these days, one doesn’t know anymore if it’s plain vanilla insomnia, or if it’s pandemic-stress-related insomnia, or something else.
Anyway, the end result is that I stay up all night, and then in the morning I feel like a zombie. This morning I went to sleep at 5 am, and woke up at three pm.

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Day 2 will be a night

We woke up without the announced downpour (that happened last night) and floating in thick fog – autumn is finally here. And we wasted much of the morning doing useless chores and wondering around public offices.
So, here I am, and I have not written a single word of my 5 Days Novel.
Which means I’ll start around 2 pm and I will go on long into the night because – lucky me – insomnia is back (as it usually happens when the going gets rough, to make it rougher).

And counting my small blessings, I am also lucky enough to have lost my access password to the Open University web site where, I just discovered, there is a free online course about the moons of our solar system.
The lost password means I will do that part of my research after I finish the novel.

So here we go – large pot of hot tea, one short walk break every hour, and on we go into the night.


“Normally” racist

It’s late on a Saturday night, I’m going through one of my usual bouts of insomnia, I’m nursing a hell of a headache, and I’m browsing the blogs that I follow to see what’s up and read a few posts to distract myself.
And I stumble on the post of a guy that has just found out our civilization is fascistic, because just look at the new Oscar award standards, that require a wider representation and diversity – who sets these standards?, the poor soul cries to the skies. Why are they imposing this on us?!
I think I’ve already written about this, but it’s quite surprising finding out the muddy bottom of the internet reaches into your blogroll, and the bottom feeders are actually making noises in my backyard.

And there, in one of the comments, someone gives us the baseline racist statement of the week

That’s the way things have become… just check any movie or TV series from 2000 on: there will be a person of color, and then an Asian, and then on to all the minorities… transgender too, nowadays…

I’m sleepless, I have a headache and a bug just committed suicide by diving in my tea. And now this. Even my renowned zen-like patience has a limit…

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Insomnia movies: A night with Dr Anton Phibes, part 1

I first saw The Abominable Dr Phibes, the 1971 Robert Fuest movie, back in the ’80s, on a late-nite horror retrospective hosted by RAI 3, the “intellectual” and “left wing” channel in Italy’s state TV. I am pretty sure I saw it in black and white, which of course is a crime, because part of the wonder of this old horror movie is the colors and the looks.
So I re-watched it last night, back to back with its sequel, as I was going through a bout of insomnia.

The Abominable Dr Phibes is classified as a horror-comedy (or vice-versa), and still it is pretty gruesome and it does have a melancholic streak, and a certain tragic greatness.

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Night thougths and story ideas

Last night I was going through a bout of insomnia, so I wrapped myself in a stack of blankets and I watched me something. I chose a Japanese animated series, one I liked a lot when I was a kid. A spin off of the original, 12 20-minutes episodes that came out in the mid-’90s and that I had missed at the time.

I watched and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. I liked the storytelling, the characters and their dynamics, and OK, there was a certain amount of fluff and adolescent angst but what the heck, it was a Japanese anime, it’s supposed to have those.

And while I was between episodes, a strange sensation hit me…

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Stories in the works

Fairy tales again, but not in a noir/hardboiled style – this time it is science fiction: I’ve just got a call for a collection of SF takes on classic fairy tales, and here I am trying to figure out a viable plot. The pay is good, the limit is 15.000 words but I’m aiming for 5000.

The deadline is damn close – the 15th of December – but I have good hopes: I can write a story in two evenings.

So here I am juggling options – Sleeping Beauty is sort of obvious, you just change stasis fields for sleep spells, and it’s done. But it’s so obvious that it’s not such an original idea. And yes, originality is overrated, but sometimes it’s a good thing.

Otherwise, what?
A robotic version of Nutcracker?
Transhuman Three Little Pigs?
Jack and the Beanstalk set on top of a space elevator?

Back when I was in high school I wrote a story about a team-up of Odysseus, Loki and Sun Wukong, that looked like De Camp style fantasy, but was in fact science fiction.
The story was not very good (hey, I was 15!), and it’s been lost now for almost 35 years, but it might provide me with some neat ideas.

In the meantime, I have two further stories done halfway through, and in need of a serious shakedown – a straight fantasy with a sort of Dumas-esque setting, called Goblins by Candlelight (basically, a fantasy take on the home invasion genre), and an occult detective piece set – hypothetically – in Paris during the Belle Epoque. I want to have one of the two finished in the next 36 hours.
Insomnia rules.