Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Don't dream" by Donald Wandrei

Wandrei's "Don't dream" is certainly an interesting experiment in pulp weird fiction. It is a short story without much pretense, and is fun to read.
What would you do if everything you dream of - or think of - becomes true? What if you thought of something that suddenly becomes reality? Most of us would say that it is fantastic, but Wandrei shows how much of a nightmare it actually is (except for having unlimited cash).
In this story the main character carries a sad, meaningless life. He hates his wife ("she nagged when awake and she snored when asleep". How cool is that?) so much that he dreams of her death. And she dies indeed. Is that murder? He just thought of it. Is that an accident? He really wanted her to die.
After his thoughts killed his wife he is arrested for murder, and all sorts of issues come up of which I can't write about without spoiling the story. If you like strange tales, this is definitely worth reading.

"For Donald Wandrei, as always - August Derleth. 1945"

Thursday, June 21, 2012

”The man who never lived” by Donald Wandrei

Last night I read for the first time a short story by Donald Wandrei, ”The man who never lived”, published in the thirties of the past century.
Although the premise of the story is pretty interesting and the idea of using monism as a plot device is nice, the story is quite dull. Being really short, the weight of the plot is not really felt - basically it's a grocery list of events, going backward - furthermore the characters (two) are not credible. It is unknown what is actually happening, the ending doesn't really have much meaning and the style is way too simple.
It is not a horrible story (I was hoping for something horrendous) in itself, but it's absolutely forgettable. To say it positively, it's ok for a bedtime reading if nothing else is available or if the reader wants something simple but disguised as serious.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Just got the following from the local library:

So here we have a book about REH, a book about Lovecraft and a collection of stories by Wandrei. Not bad, I would say.
In addition I just received September's issue of Analog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Fantasy and Science Fiction, May/June 2012, Vol. 122, No. 5 and 6

Quick review. This month Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine should be titled Just a bit of Fantasy & Science Fiction. There is only one story that can be defined as Fantasy and that is "Maze of Shadows" by Fred Chappell.
Chappell's story is complex but entertaining, with talking cats, stolen shadows and a setting that reminded me of The Elder Scrolls.
"Liberty's Daughter" by Naomi Kritzer is an interesting piece, politically charged, about a disappeared girl. In my opinion the characters do not really live up to the plot, but it is nonetheless a plausible view of a possible futuristic society and its structure. I would say that Kritzer did a good job.
"Asylum" by Albert E. Cowdrey is surely the best piece of the issue. It is a story about life, death and the after-death. Enjoy the party until it lasts!
"Necrosis" by Dale Baley is worth mentioning for its quality and its brevity.
"City League" by Matthew Corradi is about family memories and memory storing. To use a cliche, the story is a homerun because it is about baseball. Baseball plus Sci-Fi is a sure success with me.
Summarizing, this issue of F&SF is pretty much average. However, we need more fantasy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

What do I read?

Here's a list of periodicals that I usually read.

On paper:
- Fantasy & Science Fiction
- Weird Tales
- Asimov's science fiction
- Analog
- 2600
- Texas highways
- Texas wild and parks
- The baseball research journal
- Avionics magazine
- Rotor & wings
- American Historical Review

- Baseball prospectus
- (not really a periodical)

Sometimes I read:
- Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
- Alfred Hitchcock magazine
- Locus
- Doctor Who magazine

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I am writing!

As promised, I am actually writing. It is too early to draw any conclusion, so I will wait until next week to post a status update.
In the meantime, here's a suggestion by Gareth Powell:

“I will give you the best piece of advice I was ever given: just write the fucking thing. Getting the words down on paper is the hard part. And it doesn’t matter if your first draft sucks. All first drafts suck. The important part is that you write the story. Then, when you’ve finished it, you can go back and edit it, polish up the text to make it shine. Editing is easier than writing. So, if you have a story to tell, just write it down without worrying how it sounds. You will not hit perfection first time. But you will get a completed first draft that you can then work on, to bring it up to professional quality. A lot of people make the mistake of trying to edit as they go along – of trying to make each sentence perfect before moving on to the next – and that is deadly. Just write. Tidy up later. Go for it”  ( ).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Master Plan: The writing routine

I have talked about it for years. I have dreamed it for years. I pretended it for years.
Now it is time to write - and write seriously, there are no more excuses, no more issues and no more delays. I cannot leave ideas alone, I gotta try. It is a matter of survival.
For the first time I have a plan and it has to work since it is pretty simple. I have two short stories and one long story in my mind. I think that they can somehow work after I have put them on paper (well, on screen). Since I am not trained nor a full time writer (ok, I published some stuff in a couple of Italian magazines, but it's different) I will need to stick by a believable routine. Every professional writer says that a writing routing is the key to get something out.

"You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." (Ray Bradbury)
"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word" (Margaret Atwood) 
Apparently even Jerry Seinfeld does not joke about it.

So, here's the objective:
First short story (about 5000 words)
Second short story (about 8000 words)
Novel length story (76955 words; incidentally it is the length of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone plus one word).

That is how I plan to reach the objective:
First short story, about 200 words a day.
Second short story, about 250 words a day.
Novel length story, about 500 words a day. I guess.

How will I proceed? Simple... I will write down the first short story. If math does not change, it should take twenty-five days to write it down. While I am writing it, I will not revise it. Then, I will let it sleep for about one week or ten days. Then the revising part will begin. I plan to spend the same amount of time revising it. In fifty days (ok, it might be sixty but don't say it out loud) I should have a publishable story which I will submit. As much as I want it, I do not expect success but to learn something.
Then I will proceed with the second story, using the lesson learned while writing the first story. In reality I already have in mind how I will tackle the long story but this is not right moment to work on it.
Right now I won't say how I will proceed with the second story; my brain has to work mainly for the first so no distractions.
In addition, I will update this blog with the progress and whatever comes to my mind.
The most difficult part is going to avoid life to get in the middle, so plenty of organization and support will be necessary.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: American Gods

Cut to the crap: "American gods" by Neil Gaiman is a masterpiece.
This said, let's examine it a little bit further. Shadow is released from prison the day his wife, Laura, dies in a car accident. Still shocked by her death he meets a mysterious guy, Mr. Wednesday that knows about Shadow more than Shadow himself. After a long conversation on the plane, Mr. Wednesday hires Shadow as a personal bodyguard. Obviously, from this moment forward Shadow's life is going to change radically. He will have to deal with ancient gods and new gods, he will have to overcome several trials and he will even play a deadly game of checkers, resembling the most famous chess game of Bergman's "The seventh seal". The book has several subplots, most of them very interesting.
This book, made me think about forgotten gods. What happened to them? Are they still gods? How would they feel if they knew that humanity forgot them? How would all the people that sacrificed for them feel if they knew that their gods were written off human history? Most likely this is the intent of the author.
Gaiman succeeded on writing a polyhedric book while keeping Shadow the only main character, without ever distracting the reader. In all truth there is one more main character: America itself. This book is also an amazing panoramic road trip in the soul and shape of this land.
Reading online, some of the criticism comes from the length of the book. Yes, the book is pretty long, but not too long. I do not think that any part could have been removed; in other words, shortening this book would have been a heinous crime. In addition, saying that a book is too long is similar to saying that a Mozart's symphony has too many notes.

I strongly suggest the reading of this book; I actually believe it should be mandatory.
Good job, Mr. Gaiman!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Possible baseball readings (living list)

Some possible baseball readings. This note is for the future. I will buy some of these, I will get some other at the library and I will discard a few. This is a "living" list, so it will change in the future. Let's see:

  • "Beyond Di Maggio" by L. Baldassaro. List price: $34.90, Amazon price: $24.90. Will get it for sure.
  • "Bottom of the 33rd - Hope, redemption and Baseball's longest game" by Den Barry. List price: $14.99, Amazon price: $10.99. Will read for sure.
  • "The everything kid's baseball book" by Greg Jacobs. List and Amazon price: $8.99.
  • "Ball four" by Jim Bouton. List price: $15.95, Amazon price: $10.85
  • "The boys of summer" by Roger Kahn. List price: $14.99, Amazon price: $9.67. Will read for sure.
  • "The lords of the realm" by John Helyar. List price: $29.99, Amazon price: $24.99. Will probably read.
  • "The glory of their times" by Lawrence Ritter. List price: $14.95, Amazon price: $11.84. Will probably buy.
  • "Babe: the legend comes to life: by Robert Creamer. List price: $16.00 Amazon price: 10.88.
  • "Games of shadows" by Mark Fainaru-Wada. List price: $15.00, Amazon price: $6.00.
  • "Baseball between the numbers - Why everything you know about the game is wrong" by John Keri and the Baseball Prospectus team. List price: $17.95, Amazon price: $12.91
  • "Pinstripe empire: The New York Yankees from before the Babe to after the Boss" by Marty Appel. List price: $28.00, Amazon price: $16.80
  • "Baseball before we knew it: a search for the roots of the game" by David Block. List price: $19.95, Amazon price: $13.53
  • "The girl who loved Tom Gordon" by Stephen King. List and Amazon price: $7.99.

  • "Texas Baseball: A Lone Star Diamond History from Town Teams to the Big Leagues" by Clay Coppedge. List price: $19.99, Amazon Price: $14.99. Will get it for sure.