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Author Blogs

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Coming soon: DreamForge #2


The second issue of DreamForge Magazine will be available on the first of July 2019. The theme of the issue is Tales of Indomitable Spirit. In the words of the editors… We have 18 Amazing stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy, including contributing authors from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., South Africa, Italy, and Denmark. Art by Hugo Award Winner Elizabeth Leggett, Illustrator of the Future Winner Cassandre Bolan, renowned national book cover artist John Blumen, and master illustrator, writer, and educator Mark Zingarelli. Featuring a reprint of David Weber’s exciting Legion of Space Adventure “A Certain Talent.” The magazine includes a short story of mine, called Sapiens. I hope you’ll li...
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Peggy Lipton, 1946-2019


When I was a kid I loved The Mod Squad. Original link
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Book Fair and New Projects


Yesterday I spent the morning playing tourist in Asti, and the afternoon at the Turin Book Fair, where I occupied a chair in the Acheron Books booth. With my brother we had decided to treat the day as a vacation, and it was like that. Granted, today I am voiceless and we had to take a quick jaunt to the triage unit of the local hospital, but that’s nothing serious, and we’ll survive and grow stronger. The morning in Asti was fun and relaxing – it being market day the place was busy and yet relaxed. We got there at 8 am, and we enjoyed the center of town while most people was still sleeping. The Book Fair has been great. It’s good to spend a day interacting with readers and colleagues, and I ...
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Mid-life crisis with giant robot


I have often written in the past about the impact that the first series of Mobile Suit Gundam had on my generation and on me in particular. I think the best evidence of how much it impacted me is the fact that I am still watching the cartoons – no longer as a start-struck teenager, not as an otaku (I never was that), but with an eye to narrative structure, themes, character arcs, patterns. It was a story with a large cast, that mixed action and politics, high tech and melodrama, and that maybe for the first time (certainly for the first time for me) portrayed war as something traumatic instead of romantic. And a few minutes ago I was discussing with my brother how much I’d like to be able to...
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Author photos

I was thinking of doing a post like this, but LitHub did it first, and better: Author Photos: A Taxonomy Original link
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Pay What You Want and other urban legends


There’s a discussion going, on a friend’s Facebook profile, about how Pay What You Want (PWYW) offers don’t work in Italy. The punters will simply get the stuff for free, because that is what everybody wants to pay. Someone comments that PWYW never worked anyway, and brings the example of that Stephen King novel that was released in 2000, and was a total failure. I am not a Stephen King fan, but I remembered the thing from 2000, the ill-fated serial novel The Plant, so I went and checked a few numbers – and indeed, Stephen King’s PWYW experiment made him a meager 470.000 dollars. Total failure, right? The novel was never completed, and that is indeed a failure for a novelist (the rule is “th...
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Books about writing


I collect books about writing. I have at this point over 120 different titles on the subject, many in digital form, many in hard copy. Some of them are more useful than others, some of them are more entertaining than others, some of them I like better than others, each and everyone contains at least a little nugget of something that (I hope) helped me get better at the craft. I don’t think you can learn everything from a handbook, but maybe from a few dozens of them you’ll get enough tools to put together your own toolbox. This morning I learned about the Humble Book Bundle “Write like a Writer” , and I happily shelled out 80 eurocents for the basic tier of the offer. The basic level include...
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Original Ideas


I usually say originality is overestimated. I even write a series of articles in an Italian webzine that use that bit as a catchphrase. Being original is important, but you can’t copyright ideas – in the end what counts is not what ideas you rub together to spark a story, but how you use those sparks. What you do with the ideas, where you go with them, where you drag the reader and how. That’s what’s got to be original – the execution. I just posted an article – in the Nuts & Bolts series – on my Patreon about ideas and themes – where to find them, how to use them. I’ll have to expand that piece, but it’s a start. And what happens when you don’t have original ideas? You use what’s at hand. Y...
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Writer

“Call me a science fiction writer, I’ll come to your house and I’ll nail your pet’s head to a coffee table. I’ll hit you so hard your ancestors will die. I’ll punch you so hard your grandmother will bleed. I’m a writer. There’s no adjective in front of it. I’m just a writer.” Harlan Ellison Original link
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Fighting as narrative (or vice-versa)


I have just watched Seven Strike as One, the final episode of the third and last season of Into the Badlands, to me still the best fantasy series on the telly these last few years, and one I will miss a lot now that’s gone. The finale was fast but highly satisfactory, and ended with two colossal hooks for a possible sequel that, alas, seems unlikely. Sherman Augustus as Moon, Eugenia Yuan as Kannin, Nick Frost as Bajie, Daniel Wu as Sunny, Emily Beecham as The Widow, Lewis Tan as Gaius, Ally Ioannides as Tilda – Into the Badlands _ Season 3, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC I admit I am a fan of the series – I love the characters, the setting, the fighting choreography, the smal...
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Latro


Notoriously, I am in the habit of re-reading one of two books, in alternating years. Usually in the spring, I either re-read Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy, or I re-read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun. This year, following the death of Wolfe, I decided to change my pattern, and re-read something different (while I am also reading some of Wolfe’s stuff I had missed so far). My only doubt was – what should I re-read? In the end, I had two candidates: the massive The Wizard Knight, and the three books in the Soldier series. Both are great books, both I have read too many years ago, both are here on my special shelf, and both are books (or book series) from which I could learn something ne...
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Like crickets

“Then I could not help wondering what the watching gods thought of us, with our clever masks and our jokes. What we think of crickets, perhaps, whose singing we hear with pleasure, though some of us smash them with our heels when they venture into sight.” Gene Wolfe, Latro in the Mist Original link
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Genie in a bottle

Well, not exactly. The main character in my fantasy story Bottled Up is an imp, not a genie. Taxonomy is important – I am a paleontologist, you see. But the story sold anyway, to a Canadian anthology. So this makes two short stories sold in one day. And for this one I have already signed the contract. I am incredibly happy. I might get used to this sort of thing, I think. Original link
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Weird, and Western

… or the other way around. I always said I would have liked to write a weird western. Well, I did it. And I sold it to an anthology. The story is called Hank’s Ghosts. I will not say more until the contract is signed, but looks like the editor liked it. And to celebrate, tonight I’ll write another short story: I just realized that the Japanese expression “henna gaijin” means “strange foreign guy” but also, by extension, might be translated sometimes as“weird western guy”. I’m sure there’s a plot in here somewhere… Original link
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Uncharted


Uncharted is both the title of a series of digital games I would have loved to play but never did due to hardware shortcomings and the title of a song I like a lot. This post has nothing to do with either of them (but the song is actually playing in the background as I write this). In three days it will be the 8th of May, and the third anniversary of my father’s death. The date also marks the moment I became a full-time writer, after a few years spent as a geologist that wrote stories in his spare time. The reason for the shift: no money in the bank, no work, writing to pay the bills turned out to be the only way to keep going. These three years have been for me a journey through an uncharte...
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Odds and Ends #17


In Odds and Ends #17 my Patrons will find Roger Zelazny, a lot of crime novels and graphic novels, a handbook for game designers, a bunch of hot librarians and a steampunk version of F1 racing. Because it’s good to be My Patrons. Probably. Original link
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Going wild


While with my brother we were on the hunt for the field mice that have taken residence in the darker corners of our house, and while we were trying to ascertain if it is a hedgehog or something larger that has been raiding our trash bin, the local news informed us that the number of sheep and fallow deer attacked by wolves in our area is increasing. The countryside is going wild. And it is not a rewilding plan, the conscious effort on the part of humans to bring back the natural environment to try and co-exist. It’s a strange, harsher and more random phenomenon. It feels like a side-effect of the financial depression that is strangling the rural areas – fields go unattended, farms are abando...
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Here be monsters: Brian Keene’s The Lost Level


Brian Keene’s novel The Lost Level was published in 2015, and a few friends told me wonders about it, but only this week I was able to finally crack my copy open and read it, fully aware of the fact that in the meantime The Lost Level has turned into a series. In a nutshell: occult dabbler Aaron Pace finds a way to travel the multiverse through occult means, but then stumbles into the Lost Level, an inter-dimensional Sargasso Sea, a cul-de-sac from which there is no way out, where the dregs of infinite worlds and timelines get dumped for all eternity. Faced with telepathic snake-men, dinosaurs, giant robots and other horrors, and in the company of a beautiful woman and a two-fisted cat-man, ...
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A mix-tape of the ’70s: Normandy Gold


I went through one of my usual bouts of insomnia, last night, compounded by my pollen allergy giving me the first troubles of the season, and so I did a bit of reading. The first book I picked from the Hard Case Crime Humble Bundle I mentioned yesterday is the graphic novel Normandy Gold, written by Alison Gaylin and Megan Abbott, with art by Steve Scott. The reason for my choice, I liked the cover. So sue me. The plot (without spoilers): after a very hard start, runaway girl Normandy Girl (she was to be called Victory, then her dad died in the D-Day) has pulled herself together and is working as a sheriff in Oregon. When her half-sister dies in Washington DC, Normandy starts her own persona...
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A criminal birthday


This year my birthday came twenty-eight days earlier than expected, thanks to the generosity of my brother and an unexpected Humble Book Bundle . As I mentioned in the past, the Humble Bundle is a great way to keep reading quality books while being broke – usually with as little as 80 eurocents you can get a handful of books in a variety of subjects (both a blessing and a curse if you are an omnivorous reader or just plain curious about a lot of different things), and at the same time help a charity. And today I was notified the start of the bright new Pulp Fiction Humble Bundle , in collaboration with Titan Books and Hard Case Crime, and even before I checked the contents I knew I was in fo...
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