East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Kaiju and race cars

Sometimes we chance on a book we wish we had been smart enough to write ourselves. It’s the case of this weekend’s fun read, Gary Gibson’s Devil’s Road, a fast and entertaining science fiction novella that’s well worth the 3 bucks price tag. A class act from the cover on, Gibson’s story was just what I needed to take my brain off the recent worries.

In a plot that we could describe as a crossover between Fast & Furious and Pacific Rim, we Follow Dutch McGuire, a tough, no-nonsense race driver that’s freed from the Russian prison in which she’s serving time, to drive in a Death Race-like tournament. Years ago, a rift opened on an island in the South China Sea (Taiwan with the number plates changed) and a horde of kaijus descended on the land. Now the place is cordoned off by warships and is the seat of a yearly race, the prize five million dollars for the winner, plus all the revenue they can make from filming what they encountered along the track.

But Dutch, whose family were refugees from the island, is not here to win the race – the people that freed her from prison, are using the race as a way to get on the island, and retrieve a mysterious mcguffin.

The writing is crisp, the dialogue crackles with energy, and the setting is intriguing.
Dutch is a great character, and the action harks back to the sort of anime I used to watch as a kid – and I mean this as a compliment.
All in all, a highly recommended little book.

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Another War of the Worlds: Revolt (2017)

As part of my plan to milk the Amazon Prime Video subscription for all it’s worth, and as a way to take a break from the rowers’ bench to which I’ll be chained for the next twenty days, I dug into the science fiction offer of Prime and came up with the very generically titled Revolt, from 2017.

And what the heck, this is a nice little SF movie, that looks and plays a lot better than the official budget of 4 million dollars might lead us to expect.

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My very own canon

There’s been a lot of talking about “the canon”, after the recent meltdown at the Hugo Ceremony. You know, this idea that there is a big fat backlong of science fiction and fantasy books you just have to read to “get into” the genre. Books that act as gateway, and form the backbone of our genre of election.

The problem with all canons is that they tend to fossilize, and also can exert a sort of gravitational pull. There’s “canons” for everything, from jazz and rock’n’roll to movies to recipes and comic books.

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Covers (that sell the books)

Today it was a good day, and it started good yesterday night, when over an excellent (and crazy expensive!) pizza with a friend and a colleague writer, we outlined a shared universe and decided we’ll have a go at it in the next few months.
Then today I did a lot of writing and translating, got a fer bills settled, and got good news for a few projects.

So I decided I deserved a small award, and went browsing on Amazon for something to read. Not that I lack books to read at the moment, but what the heck, ebooks do not have an expiration date, right?

And because I feel like reading science fiction (like a do, normally, in the summer) and because I am, after all, one of those guys that choose their reading matter because of the covers, I saw these, checked out a few reviews, and got them without any further hesitation.
Because sometimes the cover sells you the book, right?

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Growing up with Yoko Tsuno

Today my heart broke for the second time for something that happened a long time ago – sometimes in the mid ’90s, my collection of Yoko Tsuno comics, the first ten volumes, was lost – my mom, god bless her, decided it was time to clear some space, and gave the books away, as a gift to the son of a friend of hers.
I was serving in the Air Farce at the time, and when I found out, it was too late.
Heart broken.
And today, a friend reminded me of Yoko, and my heart cracked again.

For the uninitiated, Yoko Tsuno was the main character in a series of comics created by Belgian artist Roger Leloup in 1970 – a series of science fiction thrillers featuring a young Japanese woman, an electronic engineer, as the main character. The series had a run of 29 volumes, the last being published in 2010. Leloup also wrote a novel about the character (and that I still have – hooray!)
The first adventure was The Curious Trio – in which we were introduced to the heroine, her team-mates and the blue-skinned aliens that would become a fixture of the series.

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Any way the wind blows

I like the work of Seanan McGuire, and tonight after dinner, when I finally decided, what the heck, I was going to read me something, I picked one of her short stories.
It’s called Any Way the Wind Blows and it is a small fun gem, filled with airships and New York and parallel universes…
I particularly like the way in which the author manages to pack so much into such a small, limited space.
You learn to watch for such feats of writing agility, when you make at least part of your living by selling short fiction. Short fiction requires agility.

I have Any Way the Wind Blows on Kindle, but you can read it online on the Tor.com website.
It’s a short story, and it will take just about half an hour.
But it’s great.

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Ocean of Storms

It’s been fifty years, give or take a few days, since we first set foot on the Moon. One of man’s greatest achievements, one we should be all proud of.
I was there, sitting on the floor in front of the telly. I was two years old and I only have very confused memories of the screen and the excitement around me – and probably they are second-hand, false memories.

The doorstep of the universe, and we had finally placed a foot on it.
Then things went differently than what we dreamed.
We had to think about “real important stuff”, I guess, like building bigger cars.

But moon dreams are what pays my bills, so I wrote a story.
A short hard SF number, about the Moon, and the future, and us.
It’s called Ocean of Storms, and I’ve just delivered it in various formats to my Patrons.

Because it’s good to be my patron, or so they say.