Hope & Glory: Number the Brave is now available

The second novellette in a wonderful setting, Hope & Glory is getting more and more interesting!


I told you there would not be long to wait: Number the Brave, the second novelette in the Hope & Glory series is out and about on DriveThroughRPG, where you’ll get the epub, the mobi and the gorgeous pdf version in a single neat bundle.

If Glass Houses, the first Hope & Glory story, was an espionage thriller set in a steampunkish Indian Raj, Number the Brave is a war story set in that same universe, but in Northern Africa1.
It owes a debt both to old Foreign Legion pulp stories, and to Zulu, one of my favorite war movies, but it turns the premise on its head: what if the besieged defenders are African warriors, surrounded by an overwhelming force of ruthless, savage Europeans?

All the stories in the Hope & Glory series are self-contained and stand-alone, and can be read (and, hopefully, enjoyed)…

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Planning a Silk Road adventure with (and without) Google Maps

You may be cool, but you will never be cool as an adventurer who travels in a FIAT Panda.


I chanced on one of those things that happen on Facebook, a guy asking his followers

If you cold go on a big adventure, what would it be?

Or something to that effect.
Now I don’t have to think a lot about it – granted, it’s a big world and there’s adventures everywhere, but my first, instinctive response is the usual

From Paris to Shanghai by car, following the Silk Road

If you’re here, you know I love the Silk Road, its history, its stories – going along the old road, driving leisurely in my car, would be a dream come true. Stop to look at the landscape, take a few photos, eat a bite…

Fiat_panda_1_v_sstAnd when I say car, I’d mean my old reliable Panda – a tin can on wheels if ever there was one, so basic and stripped down it did not even come with a radio…

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On a country hike with Alfred Watkins

Try a different way to look at the landscape, it will be worth your time.


watkinsToday is Easter monday, and traditionally it is the day dedicated to field trips and picnics.
With my brother, we are planning a short hike across the hills here where we live – a matter of a few miles, following dirt paths through the vineyards.
We’ll take a few photos, taking our time and enjoying the quiet, and make it to a place where we will find ice cream.
Because that’s our goal – ice cream!
Once our ice cream raid is done, we’ll walk back.
And I’ll be carrying in my small rucksack, my copy of Alfred Watkin’s The Ley Hunter’s Manual from 1927.
That is a bogus sort of pamphlet, and scandalised my old colleagues back in the days of fieldwork for the university, but it’s a fun thing anyway, and perfect for such a hike.

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The folk horror of Piedmontese Neogothic


Folk Horror.
Apparently the tag was coined by Mark Gatiss in 2010, and used to describe a certain genre of very British horror movies that focused on the countryside, its people and its folklore, its legends and superstitions.

sands1008The three movies that form the core of the genre are Michael Reeves’ historically accurate nightmare Witchfinder General (1968), Piers Haggard’s delicately-titled The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) and Robin Hardy’s classic The Wicker Man (1973). A lot of stuff follows, including some of the things that creeped me out the most when I was a kid, to wit Children of the Stones, a rather scary 1977 occult serial from ITV. It was supposed to be kid’s entertainment, but boy was it the stuff of nightmares.
But hey, even The Persuaders had a folk horror episode!

Now I am usually wary of labels when it comes to fiction – they make…

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Under a new sky – chapter 6

Note: this is a work of fiction, with all the usual stuff about copyright and permission. It’s also a work in progress and a way to develop my knowledge of the english language. So feel free to correct, debate, laugh, ask about it in the comments. Help appreciated.

You may find the prologue here.

Chapter 1 is here. Chapter 2 is here. Chapter 3 is here.

Chapter 4 is here. Chapter 5 is here.

Continue reading

A day for trivial posting


March, 13th is the “trivial post day” (see image above), a time devoted to write and post about something trivial (of course!). This is a way to stigmatize how boring blogs could be and to raise an issue about the need for a more quality-oriented blogging.

Today is a rainy day here. It’s pretty boring and we’re approaching 85% of humidity. A week like that and I will mutate, developing gills. Rain all over again, for days to come if you listen to weather forecast programs on TV. They do not have a clue, of course. Tv people are nothing but nuts. I’m sure that will rain for my headache, I always have headaches when it’s raining.

It’s so dull when it rains like that. No thunders, no bolts, only water everywhere. Croak, croak! I swear I can see frogs across the street. My umbrella plainly refuses to dry, it’s too much damp around here. I have to check my own hands from time to time, looking for the first membranes to develop between fingers. In days like these, reverting to an amphibious form looks possible. There will be rain until Saturday. A toad told me that, they know this kind of things.

Questione di talento

Ognuno di noi fa tantissime cose nell’arco della sua vita, a volte in maniera decisamente efficace, con punte di eccellenza in questo o quel campo di azione.

Non è legato solo alla propria veste professionale, o alle proprie vesti dal momento che ci si trova a cambiare ambito e mansioni con una facilità crescente indotta dal precariato e da un mercato del lavoro a dir poco instabile. No, non voglio parlare di questo tipo di cose. Il punto è che per quanto si possa essere bravissimi a fare mille cose diverse, nessuna potrebbe essere espressione di un talento vero e proprio.

Dove si trova la differenza?

Cosa distingue il talento da un’ottima tecnica o da una predisposizione?

Quale può essere il discrimine tra il fare bene qualcosa e fare quello che ci permette di esprimere il nostro talento?

E ancora, come fare a capire che talenti possediamo?

Non ho risposte da guru o da scienziato da dare, sia chiaro. Questo è un tema su cui ragiono da decenni, senza aver trovato un metodo o una strategia per dare risposte chiare a queste domande. Volendo scherzare, si potrebbe anche dire che il mio talento è quello di perdere tempo dietro questioni filosofiche.

A costo di essere brusco, non mi interessa neppure sapere quali talenti possiedano i miei lettori, nè come siano arrivati ad esprimerli. Non è questione di menefreghismo, è che secondo me ognuno deve trovare le proprie risposte e/o il proprio percorso per arrivarci.

Ad oggi l’unica risposta che ho trovato è ascoltare. Quando facciamo qualcosa, ognuno le sue, è possibile che ne si traggano grandi soddisfazioni, oneri e onori. Ma il punto importante arriva quando sentiamo dentro una sorta di voce, un calore che ci fa capire che quella specifica azione, quel modo di vivere il particolare attimo, è davvero importante per noi. Credo sia lì la percezione interna del talento, il momento particolarissimo in cui ci si rende conto che si sta facendo la differenza per se stessi.

Se vi dovesse capitare questo tipo di sensazione, fermatevi. Ascoltate.