East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Three Devils in Faustus

I just delivered a new 5000-words story to the editor of a forthcoming anthology.
It’s supposed to be sword & sorcery, and indeed it features a sword, and some sorcery.
The Devil itself plays a part in it – quite literally.
It will be first published in Italian (if, that is, it turns out to be good enough), and then hopefully also in English.

11936-004-4F8FBD3DThe story is called “Three Devils in Faustus” – and yes, this is a wink at Leiber’s masterful “Four Ghosts in Hamlet”.
I’ll never be as good as Leiber, but my story strives to be somewhat Leiberian in tone, as there is little violence, much talk, some drunkenness and a striking woman in a green dress.
But there is also some bit of Anderson’s “A Midsummer Tempest” – that is, it looks like it takes place in our world, but actually it does not.

The story did take indeed some curious work of bricolage. Continue reading

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Skeptic heroes

I’ve been spending the last two hours trying to find my way around the various reprints and repackagings of Michael Moorcock’s Elric series. I read the books out of order, part in English and part in Italian translation, back when I was in high school.

Now, much as I enjoyed the stories back in the ’80s, and for all of their role in shaping the sword & sorcery genre, Elric is not my favorite Moorcock character or series (I prefer Gloriana, or The Dancers at the End of Times).

But I wanted to read through some of the stories because… ok, you know why.
Because I’m writing a series about a time-displaced heroine that’s deployed through history, by unseen masters, as a mystical troubleshooter.
And that’s the Eternal Champion, of course*.
So I wanted to take a look at the original. Continue reading


Why did the chicken cross the road?

“I have the answer,” said the terrifying voice. “ ’Tis not unlike the one that Thiazi baffled Grotnir with, five hundred winters agone. See you, mortal, a chicken is the human soul, and the road is life which must be crossed, from the ditch of birth to the ditch of death. On that road are many perils, not alone the ruts of toil and the mire of sin, but wagons of war and pestilence, drawn by the oxen of destruction; while overhead wheels that hawk hight Satan, ever ready to stoop. The chicken knows not why it crosses the road, save that it sees greener fields on the far side. It crosses because it must, even as we all must.”
[from Three Hearts and Three Lions, by Poul Anderson]