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Radio Karavansara – why not?


I’ve been listening a lot to Martin Newell’s ODDCASTE, an irregular podcast in which the British musician and poet plays DJ, offering a selection of obscure and often fascinating pop tunes. I often thought that’s the sort of thing I’d love to do… but of course the ODDCASTE already exists, and there’s no need for more of the same. On the other hand, I am having a lot of fun with the current work on Paura & Delirio, the podcast on horror and fantastic movies I host with my friend Lucy. Wouldn’t it be good to do something else, podcast-wise?Of course it would! Then last night the thought struck me.Time to bring back Radio Karavansara. Last night I was outlining my next long project, a hard boil...
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  93 Hits

Mysterious Magic Music

A little Chinese music from Radio Karavansara and the Guqin artists, for your entertainment in this rainy day.Enjoy! Original link
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Dark Agnes


It’s the 11th of June, Robert E. Howard’s anniversary, and just 36 hours a go I did a post on my Italian blog about sword & sorcery, and mentioned Dark Agnes de Chastillon. And then yesterday, as we were recording our podcast, my friend Lucy and I talked briefly about Robert E. Howard’s women – because he did write a few very interesting women, and Dark Agnes was one of them. I first met Dark Agnes de Chastillon, also known as Agnes de la Fere (a name that might ring a bell with those that have read Dumas) in the mid-80s. Having broken into the habit of reading in English, a whole world opened up for me, and I raided the shelves of the cheap paperbacks in the Sevagram bookstore. Some books I...
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Two evenings with the Queen of Zamba


I have always loved Lyon Sprague De Camp’s books – both alone and in tandem with his pal Fletcher Pratt, both as a writer of fiction and non-fiction. De Camp & Pratt’s Castle of Iron was the very first fantasy I read, and then I tried to track down and read any book that had Lyon Sprague De Camp’s name on the cover. This hunt for books was not helped by the fact that Italian SF/fantasy editors did not share my enthusiasm for Lyon Sprague De Camp’s work, or for him as a person – one of them actually celebrated De Camp’s death, and later would say that he “spat on the man’s grave”.Because, you know, Lyon Sprague De Camp desecrated the purity of Robert E. Howard’s Conan. Or something.Wankers. (...
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Write what you know


Back in the days of yore (meaning, for all practical purposes, the summer of 1993), with my brother we got this strange idea of joining the Friends of the Egyptian Museum in Turin. It made perfect sense: we were both interested in archaeology, and my brother was taking a university course in Egyptology. We spent a lot of time in the museum, that at the time was still in its old, “classic” configuration. So we went looking for the Friends of the Museum office, and were quite surprised when we discovered it was only open one morning per weekit was not open even then But being young and persistent, and this being summer and we on vacation, we basically staked out the place, going there every mo...
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Hard-Boiled


A few days back, talking about James Garner’s Marlowe, I talked about how I grew up on (among many other things) The Rockford Files. And I said I share the belief hard-boiled fiction can help a lot, when you are a kid in your early teens,and need role models – especially a certain kind of hard-boiled. Hammett rather than Spillane, for instance. So, in my lunch breaks, I’ve been re-watching the first season of The Rockford Files, because I wanted to see whether the series was really as good and fun and all that, and in general my memories were validated.Yes, there’s a car chase in every episode (what was this obsession with cars in 1970s America?), but the mysteries are fun, there’s an incred...
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Small pleasures


A number of years ago, I wrote a scenario for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, that was published in a collection by Chaosium, called Strange Aeons II. The scenario was called Cursed be the City (a title I pilfered from Henry Kuttner), and pitted a bunch of Neanderthal player characters against an ancient curse. And Tsatthogua.Because everything’s better with Tsatthogua. Two days ago I was informed my old adventure was discussed briefly on Reddit. One sometimes wonders, what of all my work after I’m gone?Well, something will be remembered. Original link
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A new short story for my Patrons


They say it’s good to be my Patrons, but really, it’s good to have my Patrons – and this is the reason why I give them exclusive contents: like a short story I just posted to them, both in Italian and English. I also added a little piece about how I wrote it, why, and using what building blocks, one of which is the following photograph. Yeah, it’s good to be my Patrons. Original link
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You must be a f#cking moron or, how I liked the Sword of Shannara


In my long and somewhat undistinguished life so far, only three times I have been called “a f#cking moron” because of my tastes (or lack thereof) in matters of music and literature. And before you ask, yes, I have a very long memory for certain things. The first time was when I candidly admitted that I’d rather listen to J.S. Bach than to W.A. Mozart.The second time was when I expressed my preference for Jefferson Airplane over Pink Floyd.The third time was when I said I had actually liked The Sword of Shannara. And this being Karavansara, you will guess what I am going to talk about next. What I think should be clear from the start is, I read Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara about one ye...
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  99 Hits

Return to Joiry


They say we need to turn our negative experiences into opportunities for good – and I have found that it’s an excellent advice.So, having just wasted eight minutes of my short life watching one of the most asinine “video essays” I ever saw, what can I take away from it and turn into an opportunity? Well, the tragically inadequate “nerd expert” that wasted eight minutes of my life explaining to me what sword & sorcery is, said sword & sorcery deals with rough, uncouth, muscular barbarian heroes wielding big swords And I thought of Jirel of Joiry.And thinking of Jirel and C.L. Moore is always a good thing. I think Jirel was the second sword & sorcery character I met, after Bob Howard’s Conan. ...
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A piece of the action


I am very happy to announce that the new issue of Aurealis magazine, one of Australia’s premiere SF/Fantasy magazines, is out now, and in it you will find my science fiction story A piece of the action. Aurealis #131 can be purchased via Smashwords, in a number of different formats to suit all your ebook reading preferences. Check it out. Original link
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Paris by Night


Sometimes we get the hint.Like, as a belated – but much appreciated and welcome – gift for my birthday, I just received a bundle of sourcebooks for All for One: Regine Diabolique, the roleplaying game of musketeers fighting the Gothic horrors that haunt a not-exactly-historical 1636 Paris.And yes, I got it. I mentioned the Ubiquity-powered All for One in a previous post (I am sure WordPress will put a link to it down below). I like the Ubiquity system, and I like the setting, with its swashbuckling heroes facing unspeakable horrors to defend the honor of the King. What I just got will allow me to set up a proper game, one of these nights, for the delight and amusement (hopefully) of my playe...
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Sherlock Holmes & the Occult Detectives


I am happy to report that the massive two-volume collection published by Belanger Books and presenting a wide selection of mysteries and adventures featuring Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives is available both in paperback and ebook through Amazon. In these stories, Holmes must work with some colleagues of his that are better versed in the ins and outs of the occult and the supernatural, while not relinquishing his powers of observation and deduction. The first volume includes my story The Case of the Manchester Mummies, the first outing of the delectable miss Valerie Trelawney. More adventures of miss Trelawney will hopefully see the light in the future. But it all starts here. I ho...
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  91 Hits

Trouble during lockdown


In the early spring of 2020, Italy went in total lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the situation was dramatic in the cities, and the body-count skyrocketed, the countryside had it relatively light. It’s just a matter of waiting for the curve to flatten. Holed up in his battered trailer in the old junkyard outside of Nizza Monferrato, Buscafusco is set to weather the pandemic with a big stash of old paperbacks, a selection of jazz records, and some prime provisions for his lonely dinners. Quiet and relax at last, at least for a while.But trouble, just like rust, never sleeps.And now everybody’s wearing a mask. BUSCAFUSCO: Health & Safety A global pandemic is not enough to keep a go...
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Fugue a deux

This morning I woke up and I wrote a story, in 35 minutes flat. Not a long story, of course – 1200 words. I spent about an hour straightening it afterwards – moving words around, and doing all the little checks and tweaks one does before submitting. Then I formatted the five pages in the Shunn format took a deep breath, and mailed the story to the editor.Now the wait begins. I submitted the story to a very quirky, high-profile anthology – and should it be accepted, it would mean being published together with authors I respect a lot.The story is called Fugue a deux, and it’s a short piece about make believe, the purpose of fantasy and love – or at least that’s how I described it in the cover ...
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One story per week

Today I have mailed off to the editors two more stories – a 1700-words piece and a 4600-words one – bringing the total count of this year’s submissions to 20. Which makes 4 stories per month. One story per week on average.Of these, five have been sold so far – which is a nice 25% sales rate.Good, but I can do better.Now I have two 8/10.000-words stories to write – having been contracted to write them – in the coming month. If I want to keep my average of one story per week, I’ll have to mail away two more. Thankfully, the opportunities abound, and there’s no shortage of ideas – but right now I am rather low on energy, and somewhat overworked. A job I should have closed in April is likely to ...
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Birthday book haul


And so the day of my 53rd birthday is coming to an end. I’ve celebrated with a quick jaunt to the last pizza place open in the area, and I’ve had dinner with my brother and a friend. The rest of the day, I spent reading – because it was my birthday, and I received a lot of books as gifts. And I might as well share, so, here’s a list of all the wonders my friends gave me. In no particular order… Justin Humprey’s The Dr Phibes Companion – a learned essay on the ins and outs of the fabled Vincent Price movies.Mark Norman’s Telling the Bees and other customs – a compendium of folklore, traditions and superstitions connected with classic rural activities. Great as a source of ideas for future sto...
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Better Than Literature


This morning I saw a snippet, posted online by a contact of mine, off a school anthology book. Now, school anthologies are often the first impact with literature for a lot of kids. They know fiction through movies, and comics, and cartoons, but especially these days, the written word, the textual storytelling, may come late in a kids life. And this snippet made it clear that (i quote from memory) one must distinguish between serious literature and the simple fiction whose only purpose is to amuse and entertain … and from there it went on to explain to the out-of-luck kid that might chance to read this sort of crap, that basically… if you like it because it’s fun then it’s gotta be rubbishif ...
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The best thing to come out of this pandemic


The best thing to come out of this pandemic, for me, has been the opportunity to launch a podcast with my friend Lucy – we decided to do it because we were (and actually still are) in lockdown, with our respective jobs fizzing out, and too much time on our hands.Why not try something new? Just imagine, spending about two hours a week chatting with one of your best friends about your favorite – or least favorite – movies.A lot of those are horror movies – but we have a very broad definition of “horror”.Basically we do online what we’d normally do going out for a pizza, with one significant difference – I am sitting in the hills of Astigianistan, while my friend Lucy is in Rome, 600 kms away. ...
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Project Gutenberg can’t be reached from Italy


The big news of the moment is, the Italian authorities have sealed all accesses to Project Gutenberg, the famous open library of classical texts – if you are in Italy, what you get when you hit gutenberg.org is a warning sign from the Guardia di Finanza, that the website you are trying to reach violated copyright laws. What’s up?, you might ask.Well, it turns out our authorities have cracked down on those websites where you can illegally download ebooks, and in particular those that allow the downloading of magazines and daily papers. Now, how to find these websites?Apparently the investigators made a list of all the URLs that were traded on certain Telegram channels.Project Gutenberg was me...
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