East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The Return of Asteria

sun-kingDuring the coming weekend I will write a 12.000 words story, give or take 2000.
It will not be hard, at least the first draft – the story’s been outlined for two years, but I never got around to actually write it.
It’s called Asteria in the Court of the Sun King, and it’s the third in the series I started in 2014 about Asteria, a formerly dead amazon that is a pawn of forces beyond her comprehension.

It all started in 2014, with a discussion with a friend of mine, Italian indie author Alex Girola, about the old peplums, the sword & sandal movies that were the staple of Italian fantasy cinema in the 1950s and 1960s, and that gave us a lot of fun and even a few good movies.
What both Alex and I found fascinating – and promising from a writing point of view – was the mix of spurious Mythology, mismatched genre tropes and time periods the movies displayed. Continue reading

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Neo-mythology: Translating the peplums

The true problem, of course, is that I get mortally bored when I translate something I wrote. I think it is because I already know how the story is going, and so there’s no fun in translating it. But we’ll talk about this later. Maybe.

Because you see, considering that right now about 90% of my Amazon income comes from English-language sales, I’ve been thinking about translating some of the things I published in Italian, to see how they would work on the international market.
Right now I’d like to give it a try with my Asteria series of sword & sandal novelettes, but here I crash against two problems.
The first, as mentioned above, is the fact that I find translating myself mindbogglingly boring.
The second is the matter of the titles.
Which brings us to Maciste – or Samson,or The Son of Hercules, as it was sold in the US of A. Continue reading


The Silent Cinema Blogathon: Cabiria (1914)

indexIt’s the Silent Cinema Blogathon, hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood – follow the link to get the full list of blogs participating and movies being reviewed.
Join the fun.

Now, here at Karavansara, we go for pulp adventure, historical fiction and other less-than-sophisticated forms of entertainment, and it is therefore fitting that we take a look at a movie that was the mother of all sword & sandal flicks, of all the historical movie fantasies and Greco-Roman “peplums”.
A movie that almost exactly one century ago, was the first movie to be shown in the White House.

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Other People’s Pulps – Revenge of the Peplums

cabiria101They never wrote novels about Maciste.
But someone’s writing them now.

Back in the ’50s and ’60s, Italy had its own brand of fantasy movies – they were called peplums, from the standard garment worn by the female characters, the classic attire of ancient Greece, or more generically “film mitologico” – myth-based movies.
And we’re talking classical myths – Hercules, Jason and the Argonauts, Ulysses… and Maciste.

Maciste first surfaced in 1914, in the silent era colossal Cabiria, portrayed by Bartolomeo Pagano, a former docks worker turned actor.
The success of the character was such that the following year Maciste was back on screen, starring in his own spin-off – the straightforwardly titled Maciste. Continue reading