Saturday, March 22, 2014

The projects

I have several projects in my head, far too many to be realized in a short time.
I decided to list them here, for public view, to make me a little more accountable.

  • Writing Project 1 ("Wish", short story): Finish the draft for a short story already written. Right now I am writing the second draft.
  • Writing Project 2 (Novel): Start writing the draft of a novel. I already have everything planned.
  • Writing Project 2 (Short YA Novel): I just have the idea. We'll see how it moves forward.
  • Research Project: This one is massive, will require years to complete. I think it will be very interesting, at least for geeks like me.
  • Physical fitness: recently I gained weight. I want to train often, keep a clean, non vegan non vegetarian, diet.
  • Study Public Administration. Due to the field I work in, I want to study Public Administration.
  • Eerie Worlds. As I announced, eerieworlds will change. It will take some time as it is an important change. However, I will start be a little more personal on this blog; in other words I won't publish only reviews.
Strategically, I will work on only one writing project at a time, while keeping notes for whatever idea applies to the other projects.

A lot of stuff, so little time. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I finally did it!

I finally did it! I wrote and finished my first short story. Let me be clear; it is absolutely NOT ready for publication. However, for the first time,and after many tries I have a first draft manuscript of a story complete head to toe.

It wasn't easy as it required a change in methodology. I used to think about the plot, scribble down a few notes and proclaim "this story shall be about 5,000 words. I will write 200 words a night."
I changed the first part of the sentence. I decided to stop thinking about the word count goal. I told myself to write down the story. If it is ten words long, good. If it is one million words long, good. I only had one goal this time, which is to write the full story. (FYI, it came out as a 1700 supershort story).

After reading the first draft I believe the story is crappy, but I don't care. I got something down and for the next few days/weeks/month I will revise, re-revise and re-re-revise ad infinitum until I have something decent in my hands as it is a very useful exercise.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014


My reading queue is slightly growing. You know, new work equals new schedule and I haven't adapted yet.
I already received the four Dell Magazines (EQMM, AHMM, Asimov's, Analog) and I have yet to finish The Shining.
I better become a Zen master, stop worrying about the schedule and begin reading.

My reading queue.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Eerie Worlds is going to change. Big time. Things are going to be much different for me and you all.

Further information in the near future.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: EQMM - Mar/Apr 2014

This is a late and short review due to a few events.
First, I found a job! I am very happy about it as I hope it will bring me success in the future.
Second, baseball. I went went to a few college games and I started working on the 2014 season with the help of Baseball America's books and Who's who in Baseball.

March/April 2014 double issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine is average, and I don't mean in a dispregiative way. No story in this issue is outstanding as no story is dull. Simply put, is a more than decent reading, full of mysteries and interesting plots.
It is definitely an issue worthy of the cover price.

The cover reminded me of "Pan's Labyrinth"

Friday, February 14, 2014

On American folklore

I admit my ignorance on American folklore. Neil Gaiman's American Gods is an amazing attempt to answer to some mythological questions, but strictly speaking it doesn't really touch folklore. Since I have no serious knowledge on local lore, I checked out this book:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014 - Reading List

- Stephen King, "The Shining", currently reading
- L. Sprague de Camp, "Dark Valley Destiny - The life of Robert E. Howard", currently reading
- Analog - April 2014, read, February 2014
- Asimov's - March 2014, read, February 2014
- Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - Mar/Apr 2014, read, February 2014
- Stephen King, "Carrie", read, February 2014
- Stephen King, 'salem's Lot, read, February 2014

- Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2014, read, January 2014
- Asimov's - February 2014, read, January 2014
- Clarkesworld, Jan 2014, Issue 88, read, January 2014
- Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine - Jan/Feb 2014 - Volume 126 No. 1&2, read, January 2014
- H.P. Lovecraft, "A Means to Freedom - Letters to Robert E. Howard", read, January 2014
- H.P. Lovecraft, "Essential Solitude - Letters to August Derleth", read, January 2014
- H.P. Lovecraft, "Letters from New York", read, January 2014

KEY: Author/Magazine,[ "Title",] [Issue,] status, finish date.

Antisocial social.

Social interactions are fascinating. Thus, the idea that they are quickly disappearing disturbs me profoundly. 
A few days ago I was having lunch with my family at the bar section of a Mexican restaurant (On the Border, if you really want to know). Surrounded by people, fajitas and cervezas, I noticed the presence of five television sets. No one, was looking at them. However, the place was awfully quiet for a packed bar. A family of four next to me was completely absorbed by iPhones (not sure which model). The three kids and their mom were blankly staring at each own’s device. It took them at least a minute to acknowledge that the waitress brought them the free nachos. 

A group of four girlfriends walked in and started talking - one complaining to the manager about the location of my kids, facing the spirits - until two of them began chatting on their smartphone. The two girls without the phone kept looking at their friend's virtual chat, actually dividing the four-people group into a de facto two two-people groups. They kept being silent - chuckling once in a while - with the two furiously thumb-writing on their phones for at least fifteen minutes. A nice couple - two young loving birds? - kept glancing at each other’s eyes every minute or so while continuing playing a game on a smartphone. 
During that lunch, kids were sitting at the table with their mind elsewhere. Parents were simply paying the check. I wonder if they are not interested in what lives their kids are living. Friendship was substituted by the idea that being friends simply means sitting at the same table.
In the past couple of years I noticed that this anti-social trend is getting more intrusive. Less sociality in favor of virtuality. Reflecting on what I saw I believe that I am the sad witness of moments that are gone forever.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

George R.R. Martin vs. H.P. Lovecraft

Review: "Carrie" by Stephen King

On April, 5th 1974 a novel titled "Carrie" by an unknown author named Stephen King hit the shelves. Mr. King (whoever he is) wrote the novel on a portable typewriter while living in a trailer as he was struggling to make ends meet. The author himself (and many critics) believed that his book was garbage as a few months earlier he threw the manuscript in the trash, only to be rescued by his wife Tabitha.

On April, 5th 1974 the world met with Carrie White, a high school student bullied by her peers. She was one of the most disturbing (and disturbed) characters in literature. She was living in an obsessive world between the punishing school and her semi-crazy religious mother (knee, pray and repent). Carrie had no life to live, she had no hope. But, she had an amazing gift.

On April, 5th 1974 a person anonymous to the world was the first one to pick up a book, a Doubleday edition. On the cover, a half picture of a girl and a yellow stylized title on a strange hemochromatic (blood, blood) background. This person was the first paying customer of a brand new publishing empire and the first involuntary witness of Carrie White's struggles in high school.

Carrie, First Edition (1974)

Carrie is Stephen King's first novel. It spawned at least two movies, the most famous by Brian De Palma starring Sissi Spacek, in the theaters two years after the novel was released.
Carrie is most definitely a well written book, although some readers might find King's narrative frustrating as it jumps to several places in just the turn of a page. Carrie is not the chronological narration of Carrie White's ordeal during her high school years, but rather a collection of documentation and first hand accounts mixed with some omniscient narration.

King's novel impresses since the first pages, where White's first menstrual period happens at her school's showers in front of the other girls. Of course, they bully her and she panics. Unfortunately, during the novel she is tortured more and more and she fails to get any kind comfort from her religious extremist mother (a character vaguely similar to The Mist's Mrs. Carmody). Since she is an outsider, no one knows her true gift: telekinesis. This gift will lead to serious trouble to the New England town of Chamberlain.

 One interesting thing to notice is that Stephen King reveals the ending very early in the book. There is almost no denouement. As in a Columbo episode, the reader will know soon what happened in Chamberlain and will have only to find out the events leading to the ending. In all actuality, the main event - the prom - happens halfway through the book! Kudos to King for being able to keep the reader interested with a superb, although risky, narration.
Overall, a pretty good book which is worth reading.

Next is Stephen King's Salem's Lot.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Eerie Starbucks

Eerie Starbucks this morning. While I read Stephen King, a bunch of quiet homeless men are enjoying a Grande while taking turns to light up a smoke outside. 
Meanwhile, an old man is trying to figure out how to connect his brand new iPhone 5s - box on the table - to his new laptop.
By the motions of his head it's clear that his attempts have been so far unsuccessful. 

Next to me a young boy looking exactly like the vampire Spike from Buffy stares at the wall. I wonder if he has a Brit accent. At the table behind me a curious young guy ready to go to Church adjusts his tie while reading a seemingly interesting book on the Gracchi. An old lady, silvery hair, picks up stuff from the ground. 

Oh Starbucks, the crossroads of life with a jazz soundtrack.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: Analog, April 2014, Vol. CXXXIV No. 4

A pretty good issue, although there is nothing really impressive. "Whaliens" by Tidhar made me laugh out loud.

"A Fierce Calming Presence" by Jordan Jeffers is this month's novelette. An interesting story about a federal ecologist who has been called on Ceres to investigate attacks by gulls. Within cries from the local authorities to exterminate (Avatar style) the attacking birds, an evil plot will be uncovered. Enjoyable.

"Pollution" by Don Webb. Billy Parsons lives in Japan and wants to be a japanese. He tries everything - including being interested in "japanese zombies" - to fit in but can't. Sad story.

"The Oracle of Boca Raton" by Eric Baylis. Short piece on learning on the job. Mystique piece which left me pretty cold.

"Wind Reaper" by Jon Hakes.  A four page story on alternative energy and hurricanes. Interesting idea.

"It's not 'The Lady or the Tiger?' It's 'Which Tiger?'" by Ian Randal Strock. It seems that lately bars are becoming important for science fiction as Asimov's (Vol. 38, No.3, March 2014) had a similar piece. It's a sad tale on success, failure and the future. I enjoyed thoroughly and I am glad it ended the way it did.

"Whaliens" by Lavie Tidhar. Best piece in this issue, although some people might actually hate it. Whaliens (alien whales...) come to Earth and decide to investigate human religions. The aliens expect the US government to teach them Judaism within a week or they will destroy our planet. Meanwhile, cats do not approve this invasion, as Earth and humans are in their power (if you have cats like me, you know it is true). It seems that cats don't want to lose their status and will do anything to keep it. Meanwhile a sci-fi writer is put in charge by the government to come up with a plan. It's incredibly messed up and funny.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Review: Asimov's, March 2014, Vol. 38 No. 3 (Whole #: 458)

For once I agree with Lois Tilton's review on Locus. This issue is, simply stated, dull.
My question is, what happened to Asimov's? February's issue (not reviewed here) was awful - I wanted to throw the magazine outside of the window. March's issue is slightly better but only thanks to Peter Wood's story which is the only one worthy of being published. The statement is more surprising if its lack of originality is taken into account.

The Plantimal by Ken Liu & Mike Resnick. A very old couple decide to adopt a Plantimal, a sort of plant that might have a similar shape of a baby. Very quickly old sorrows emerge as the two kept secrets from each other. At times touching, this story does not deliver even if the idea is decent.

Drink in a Small Town by Peter Wood. Best of the issue. Would've been unnoticed as it feels of "already seen", but it's narrated quite well and majestically engages the reader.

Solomon's Little Sister by Jay O'Connel. A boring Virtual Reality story where characters can be killed over and over.

The Redemption of Kip Banjeree by Genevieve Williams. A story about a pissed-off teenager. Boring.

Through Portal by Dominica Phetteplace. A girl is lost in a time portal and her parents try to find her at any cost. Will they retrieve the correct girl? Boring.

Walking Gear by Sean Monaghan. Replacing limbs ain't cheap and Den knows it. For this reason he tries to rescue his sister, Jenni, who lost her leg and became a prostitute. Could have been more interesting, but fails to.

All the Pretty Little Mermaids by Cat Rambo. Petra creates toys, in this case mermaids. Boring.

Declaration by James Patrick Kelly. This would've been a good political tale about reality and future virtual worlds if the setting was more serious.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Monthly Reading List - January 2014

Books I've finished in January 2014:

- Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2014, read, January 2014
- H.P. Lovecraft, "Essential Solitude - Letters to August Derleth", read, January 2014
- Clarkesworld, Jan 2014, Issue 88, read, January 2014
- Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine - Jan/Feb 2014 - Volume 126 No. 1&2, read, January 2014
- Asimov's - February 2014, read, January 2014
- H.P. Lovecraft, "Letters from New York", read, January 2014 
- H.P. Lovecraft, "A Means to Freedom - Letters to Robert E. Howard", read, January 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Loving to detest the mailman!

The Reader is a strange mythical beast. According to the Bestiary, the Reader has the power to truly understand infiniteness. As a matter of fact, only the Reader is given the opportunity to peek inside an immeasurable amount of lives that are within the wide spectrum of characters contained in books.
As the Reader always welcomes new literary additions with visible joy, a stranger might think that nothing can negatively affect the Reader. Wrong.

Well, I love the mailman. Yet, I detest him. This (seemingly) psychopathic bipolar feeling is created by the never ending physical necessity that I have as a reader to catch a break. However, not only my mind refutes the idea of taking a break from reading, but the mailman doesn't stop his deliveries. 
In other words, as soon as I finish a book or a literary (pulp) magazine, a grinning federal employee on a white American General truck delivers more reading material right at my doorstep.

You Got Mail!

A regular human would be either thrilled or frustrated by this incessant delivery. The Reader can't accept setting on one simple feeling as he knows that the delivered book will contain another wonderful amount of different human and extra-human experiences. After all, that is the beauty of reading.
For example, I just finished reading Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (review here) and yesterday I started King's Carrie - I read it a long time ago, in Italian - that I hope to finish in a couple of days. 
Guess what? Merciless as a Spartan, the man that wears the Eagle on his blue nylon windbreaker with pride, delivers not one, not two, but THREE literary magazines. The delivery of all this goodness means that I will not be able to read Carrie without thinking about the magazines and my reading queue. Then, I will eagerly read them and then I will start reading a new book (Salem's Lot; more on that in another post), just before something else will pop at my house.
I bet the mailman is now at home, laughing at me. He knows that he is subconsciously forcing me to read those three magazines and live the lives of the various characters. He cheers his power over my life and celebrates his feat while I am ruminating over when will I start to read Asimov's Science Fiction. Let it be known that choosing which one of the three magazines will be read first is as hard as selecting which turkey is to be pardoned on Thanksgiving.  

Oh boy, that's a Reader's life.

Thanks Mr. Mailman.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2014, Vol. 59 No. 4

April's is a very good issue with a couple of stories of a different kind than the typical murder-mystery. Quick Review.

"The Monitor" by Tara Laskowski is quite disturbing, the kind worthy of a Weird Tales or Black Static. Myra has been blessed with motherhood and as many new parents she finds out that not all is sunshine and rainbows. Eva, her newborn, cries. A lot. Therefore Myra and her husband decide to buy a wireless video monitor to check on the little girl. One day a sleep deprived Myra observes something strange, mysterious and disturbing appearing on the little screen. Is Myra hallucinating? Best story of the issue!

"Purse Strings" by Gigi Vernon. This is a historical crime fiction short, based in France in the XII century. Jaques, the brother of Thibaut the Knight disappeared. A short time later a request for a ransom appeared at Thibaut's door. Everyone believes that Jaques is faking a kidnapping in order to get a few silver coins, but Thibaut is sure that it's not the case.

"A knock on the door" by Jas R. Petrin. A girl disappears and an investigation involving russian mob-girls begins. This story failed to keep me interested.

"Nighthawks" by Joseph D'Agnese. A very short story about a graveyard shift waitress. Fun.

"Sitting Ducks" by Loren D. Estleman. A bomb kills a cop. This makes a nice police story.

"Trash in the Garbage" by Bruce Graham. A body falls off a dump truck... if that's not a good preamble I don't know what it is. Interesting story.

"The Danua Boy" by Tony Richards. This story is about kidnapping in Zimbabwe and other globally important issues.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Review: Clarkesworld, January 2014, Issue 88

I did not enjoy this issue, very underwhelming. Quick review.

"The Clockwork Soldier" by Ken Liu. A story about automation, ethics and bounty hunting. I have never been a great fan of Ken Liu (not that I read many of his works), but this one is quite boring. The only thing I liked is the small homage to P.K. Dick when the "PKD androids" are discussed.

"Grave of the Fireflies" by Cheng Gingbo. A strange piece about stars and time. Interesting enough.

Wine" by Yoon Ha Lee wins the trophy as best story of this issue. Nasteng is a recluse planet under siege and its inhabitants want to avoid complete doom. Although apparently peaceful, Nasteng is a planet with a disturbing secret. Somehow this story reminded me of "Torchwood - Children of Earth", although the connection is really not immediate.

The other two stories, "Ship's Brother" by A. De Bodard and "Utriusque Cosmi" by R. C. Wilson are reprints.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: F&SF Magazine, Vol. CXXVI, Issue 1 & 2, Jan/Feb 2014

F&SF Magazine's 2014 starts with a loud BOOM! I enjoyed every story of this issue and even the two that gave me the least literary pleasure (Reed's and Crone's) are still way above average.

This happened when I finished reading this issue of F&SF Magazine.

Seth Chambers's novella, C.C. Finlay's novelette and Chillemi/Di Filippo's team-up were outstanding. 
I seriously think that this issue has to be bought and kept. I thank all the authors; I will drink a cold beer while singing immoral chants of praise as my personal offering to their honor.
Let's dig quickly into the stories.

"In Her Eyes" by Seth Chambers is this issue's long novella. It certainly is one of the best stories I read in the past few months about Alex's love for Song a grotesque girl with a foul mouth and beautiful blue eyes. She is not a beauty. Paradoxically, she is beautiful. Why? Because she is a sort of shape shifter. I don't want to give it away, but this story is tragic on so many levels, and contains several perversions of our evaluation of physical attraction, racism and sexual pleasure. 

"The New Cambrian" by Andy Stewart is a novelette about a mission on Jupiter's moon Europa. The mission is one-way only and manned by forty-eight people. And then, there were forty-seven, as Dr. Schneider dies. Incidentally, Dr. Schneider is the wife of the main character, Ty, which is in love with Ana, another member of the team. Dr. Schneider - we don't know her first name - was a scientific celebrity as she found a form of life resembling our trilobite (they call it quadlobite). Things go downhill when in a Riley Scott moment Ty vomits a quadlobite. This story has everything, from high-technology, a love triangle, death and so on. The only question is that nowadays there are so many stories and movies based on Europa that when a future civilization will think that we had a colony on the jovian moon.

"The Man Who Hanged Three Times" got me at its first sentence. C.C. Finlay writes a sad story about a wrongful death sentence that is carried out... many times. Fat Pritchard is arrested because of the alleged murder of his love, Pearl. While proclaiming his innocence, Pritchard will discover a horrible secret. I would love to see a thirty minute movie of this short as the western setting perfectly fits the story and delivers the right mood. 

"The Via Panisperna Boys in Operation Harmony" by Claudio Chillemi and Paul Di Filippo. Well, being Italian I feel overwhelmed as soon as I read "Via Panisperna". We all know about Enrico Fermi and his friends. Yet, no one knows what happened to Ettore Majorana, the brightest of 'em all. It is said that he was able to solve the most complex problems in just a few seconds on napkins or wherever he could write. Unfortunately, one day he disappeared and since then many things were said about him and his disappearance. Majorana's is one of the most fascinating European mysteries; I read a couple of books about him and his mystery. Chillemi and Di Filippo give us a different (totally crazy) tale about what might have happened. The only minor issue I have with this story is that the authors located Bruno Pontecorvo in the US when in real life he defected to the USSR. Side note: my father-in-law was present at the Pontecorvo-Segre' reunion in Italy.

"The Story-Teller" by Bruce Jay Friedman, "We Don't Mean to Be" by Reed and "The Lion Wedding" by Moira Crone are weird enough.

Alex Irvine's "For All of Us Down Here" is a nice tale.  The world is afflicted by Singularity, and almost all humans are plugged into a virtual system and left the real world crumbling. I am not much into VR stories but I liked that this one was from the perspective of someone without access to the system.

"Out of the Deep" by Albert E. Cowdrey and "The Museum of Error" get their honorable mention as they are both pleasant and well narrated.

Overall, this issue of F&SF raised the bar. Big time.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Just got 'em!

Thanks UPS!!! A new addition to my Lovecraft collection of letters and the newly started collection of essays.