March 9, 2015

GOTO, GOSUB and the days gone

When I was a kid and the most technologically advanced and wondrous object was a Commodore VIC20 (or, even better, a Commodore C64), we spent our afternoons in front of the TV.

We were on together. We played a lot with what we had on audiotapes and, sometimes, we also wrote some code. We were too young and inexperienced to be able to write our own code, so we used to buy some magazines with listings of games written in BASIC.

It was at least two, sitting next to each other. One was reading the listing, the other was writing. Full of expectations. Sometimes a few lines were wrong. Sometimes there were typos. We fixed it and we learned something.

We didn't understand, at first, what they meant those GOTO and GOSUB words which stuffed the listing. We didn't know that they were the equivalent of the english "go to" and "go subroutine". We read them as they were written, in italian, and those strange and funny words seemed to us a little magic.

Some of us, as a result, decided to pick up a manual and finally understand how it worked, really, this 'programming' thing.

Partly because every time we finished a listing and started it, inevitably the game sucked.

February 9, 2015

In the 90% of the Sturgeon's Law. And being proud of it.

To the critics who claimed that 90% of science fiction literature is crap, Theodore Sturgeon replied with the Law (or Revelation) of Sturgeon, which confirms this percentage but also states that, by extension, 90% of all (classical literature, cinematography, arts, etc.) is, in the same way, crap. Consequently, science fiction literature is not inferior to each other product of human creativity.

That said, I address the authors who follow this blog. Authors of science fiction and not. Self-published authors and not.

Given the extremely high percentage of crap, it's very likely to fall into it. I am, for sure. Even at the bottom of the pile, maybe. But let's face it, I'm in good company. And in that 90% I can find some Nobel Prize for Literature, some best seller author, some literary prize winner, some author cuddled by critics. There is so much room, in a 90%.

But there is a difference.

There is the fact that, in that 90%, you can also accept of falling into. Because, well, we are also readers. And certainly, among the books to which we are fond of and that we loved the most, there are many who fall just in that 90%. For me, at least, it is. I can pick out dozens of novels and short stories that are not art, that are not masterpieces, that are (cit.) written with the belly, but that I liked and I can not forget. And it's a beautiful thing.

Thus, the many writings that fall in that 90%, let's make them fall proudly. They are crap, but someone will love them the same. Someone will have spent over them a few pleasant hours. Someone will not forget them.

To celebrate the 90% of Sturgeon, I will use in this blog (and also on Twitter) the hashtag #ProudlyInSturgeons90.

Have a good reading.

December 2, 2014

'Universo Incompleto' has a cover (and it's not the one I liked the most)

Here it is. Or rather, that's the draft.

This is the cover for 'Universo Incompleto' (Incomplete Universe) chosen by blog readers and social friends. It was an head-to-head to the last vote with the wormhole one (n.6). The last vote, needless to say, was mine. I opted for this cover because I am most familiar with it and because the wormhole and the wardrobe looked too much like, really, the intro of Doctor Who.

Special mention for the cover proposed by Fabio: I think it has good potential. Maybe should I retrieve it in the future?

Now I can say it. My first preference was n.5, the one with the head of the robot. I believed in it, but it's the one that took fewer votes. It seems it was not quite inspirational. Ouch.

That's all, I sincerely thank all the participants. See you when the novel is going to be published. In the meantime, why not subscribe to the OddlyGeeks newsletter? It's a nice way to to know when the novel gets out.


November 11, 2014

Zero copies sold. A call to independent authors.

I would like to make a call to all independent authors.

Yes. You know. Those self publishing dudes trying to sell shit through Amazon.

I am a reader constantly looking for new and interesting stuff. In my wandering through virtual shelves in search of the next great novel I find everything from trash to masterpiece.

Often, more and more often, I am faced with writing that saddens me. The clones. The obvious imitations.
The literature 'by the manual'. The boring literature. How to recognize this stuff? It is well written, well edited, follows all the rules of standard narrative. It closely follows the manual of the good writer. It doesn't, in fact, break not even a rule of that manual. But when I read the first few chapters, it reminds me only stuff being read in the past. It doesn't sound anything new. Synapses are there, waiting, ready to turn on some connection that never comes.

Why this writing saddens me? Because I see a wasted potential. Because I realize that beyond those words there is an author who might be able to turn on some synapse and he does not. Because he chose the easy road. Because he chose the manual.

Dear independent author. You have a starting position that is wonderful. It is called 'Zero Copies Sold'.

Behind you
, there are these zero copies. Fantastic. You can't do worse. You can not, actually, do worse. In front of you there are no publishers, no marketing, no agents. There is no one who will make pressure to how and what you have to write. Clear field.

In front of you there is a blank sheet of paper and, just beyond that paper, there are readers.


In the midst of those readers, hidden in the third row, I am too. - Dare! -
I try to scream.

You dare! Throw away the manual of the perfect writer! You have on your side a platform that is revolutionizing the rules of literature. Many of these rules come from limitations that are no more. Don't stick too much to the manual, except for making me read your work. Change gender. Change style. Change everything you'd like to change. It can be done, there is no one that will not allow it.

The best-selling authors can't do what you can do. Maybe they have more talent, more resources, but are also limited by fans expecting something familiar and a publisher who has to sell. The best-selling authors can not experiment nor dare too much. You, in a position from which you can't do worse, you can dare. Do not imitate too much the best-selling authors. Be more adventurous. You can, you have on your side of the Zero Copies Sold.

Please. Really. My synapses ask for it.

October 23, 2014

Crescia, how good!

I somewhat betray my region when I admit that between Piadina and Crescia, I far prefer the latter.

What can I do? The Crescia is more tasty and crunchy, very appetizing and filling. Try it with sausage and verdure cotte (that is herbs in pan), but also with grilled vegetables and cured meats of all kinds.

Where you can find it? Between Marche and Umbria, where there are (like Piadina in Emilia Romagna) different recipes depending on each town. 

In doubt, you should try them all. 

September 23, 2014

Worst scene - Edge of tomorrow

Edge of tomorrow is an honest science fiction film without peaks of genius, although it can be watched without too much suffering.

Too bad for the finale. If you forget the last few minutes of the film (those after the last temporal reset), which ruin a story that had ​​sense and pathos, then the whole film regains some point.

And with this we have checked the 'worst scene' stuff.

Now let's turn to Emily Blunt, really believable in the role of Rita Vrataski, a legendary heroine in the war against the Mimic.

Blunt, if you saw her in some interview, it's pretty nice and far from the typical star attitudes. But she seems always so gentle, inoffensive. In a nutshell, she wouldn't fit in a movie like this. Instead, she proved I was wrong.

Beautiful and charismatic. Elegant, self-confident and deadly in hi-tech armours battle in a film in which all other soldiers (Cruise included) seem to go around as they had shit in their trousers. Blunt holds up the scene ten times better than Cruise. It is not hard to believe that Rita Vrataski was responsible for the first victory of the humans on Mimics. Just a shame that she does not appear more.

March 5, 2014

Shopping in Hyperspace - SciFi thoughts

From the very first moment she saw the ad on MaxiNetwork, Cecilia decided that she would have stolen that spaceship.
It was so cute.

But above all, it was the only technology which could help to fulfill her greatest dream: the ultimate shopping session.

(no, you won't find it on Amazon)