Come non fare marketing

marketingTra i numerosissimi modi per cercare di farsi pubblicità, ci sono anche quelli che sarebbe meglio evitare come la peste. Tipo trasformarsi in uno spambot che, invece di comunicarti un’eredità milionaria farlocca o pubblicizzare magiche pillole blu, tartassa il mondo col proprio ebook.

Diciamocelo: in pubblicità c’è poco di controproducente quanto l’irritare a morte il possibile compratore.
Perché ok il “bene, male, basta che se ne parli”, ma se nessuno ne parla perché cestina direttamente la pubblicità insultante, qualcosa è andato storto.

Il che ci porta a noi: me, la mia casella di posta elettronica, e la mail che ho ricevuto ieri. Una mail che più passavano i minuti, più faceva fremere i miei sensi da ragno.

Continua a leggere

Grimspace – Ann Aguirre

Attenzione: questa recensione va in onda a blog unificati su Il Futuro è Tornato. Così, per chi la volesse in italiano.


copertina GrimspaceAuthor: Ann Aguirre
Title: Grimspace
Publisher: Ace Books
Pages: 312
Price: 6,03 euros (paperback) or 4,23 euros (ebook)
Cover art by Scott Fischer

Try to describe grimspace for us.
At parties, when everyone’s knocked back a few, there’s always someone who asks me to do that. They don’t seem to understand, it’s like trying to define red for a blind man. If you’re not a jumper, then you’re blind to the most extraordinary, primordial colors. And nothing I say will help you understand.
The name’s misleading. Grimspace means inexorable, implacable. Not to be appeased. You see, grimspace will have its due from all who traverse it. But it’s beautiful there, or we wouldn’t be drawn back, time and again, driven on by a jones stronger than anything mankind could ever devise. Jumpers burn out smiling for a reason.

In a future that sees humanity expanding through space, clonizing planets, enslaving or fighting alien races and installing space station here and there, still no FTL drive has been built yet.
Because there’s something better.
There’s grimspace, a secondary space that a rightly equipped ship can access only thanks to its jumper, and in which only jumpers can navigate thanks to beacons positioned, eons before humanity, by someone or something.
Sirantha Jax is a jumper. She’s got the j-gene and she’s good at her work. More: she’s longevous, because most jumpers burn out way before reaching 500 successful jumps and 14 years of service.
Except, Jax’s immaculate record just got stained. Sole survivor of a crash that killed also her pilot and lover, she can’t remember the accident, and the psychiatric therapy her employer wants for her is not going as it should.
When a stranger enters her holding cell and asks her to chose between fleeing or be broken by the Corp she works for, Jax opts for excaping. From there on, it will be a fast-paced sequence of adventures, unexpected encounters and emotions.

Ann AguirreAnn Aguirre is an American author with a wide range of writing, from urban fantasy to science fiction, through young adult, and “Grimspace” is the first book of a series of six that she defines “romantic science fiction”. And it’s a fitting label.
In writing this novel, the author put together a lot of ingredients: there’s grimspace and the Corp that monopolizes the access to it; alien civilizations, both advanced and not-so-advanced; psychic powers and Chi-masters (seriously); space ships and crash landings; self-proclaimed kings, mercenaries and bounty hunters; exotic and deadly fauna; but also that vague nod to Earth as a nearly dead planet; savage worlds, with tribal political structures, pitted against bureaucratized yet bucolic planets; limb transplants, fetish bar and also a believable love story.
It could end up a mess, instead the author succeeds at balancing it all, action, respite, moments of psychological depth and those lovely exposition snippets that never sound forced, due to the voice of Jax resounding loud and clear in there too.

Jax falls into the strong female characters category, but she never sounds predictable.
As a jumper, she has always had a privileged life, and, as the story proceeds, she’ll understand she is a spoiled thirty-something, quite ignorant about life outside the Corp. She’ll also understand that she needs to grow up and change if she wanna survive her new life.
She’ll do stupid things and brave things, she’ll complicate the mess she’s in and help solve the situations.
She’s a witty person, one of those narrators who boast a lot of sarcasm and overconfidence, but she does it in a charming way, without hiding to herself (or the reader) when wits are just an armor.
By her side, a varied cast of supporting characters that it’s hard not to love, from the reluctant pilot March, to the solid, bossy presence of Dina (whom I love!), to Saul and Loras.

The plot flows smoothly, grabs you with the first chapter and never lets go through conspiracies and counter-conspiracies, gunfight, hasty escapes and heartfelt decisions.
The science-fiction side of the novel is solid and funny, the romantic one is strong but never boggles the plot with the usual and potentially trite cliché of the genre.
Grimspace is a truly fun read, that left me with the need to know what Ms. Aguirre (and the future) hold for her cast in the other volumes, and whether the author will keep the aforementioned balance in the elements of the universe she created.

Copyright by Scott M. Fischer

Copyright by Scott M. Fischer

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Numenera, tra fantasy e fantascienza

NumeneraIo ho esperienza con una limitata gamma di giochi di ruolo, e pure con una limitata gamma di stili di gioco, nonostante quello che uno possa immaginarsi da qualche post goliardico che ho fatto nel tempo.

Nonostante questa mia ridotta esperienza, o forse proprio per questo, più spulcio il manuale base di Numenera, più ho la salivazione imbizzarrita e una gran voglia di provarlo, di vederlo in azione.

Finanziato con un Kickstarter di notevole successo (lode lode a Kickstarter), uscito ad agosto 2013 e partorito dalla mente di Monte Cook, Numenera è un gioco di ruolo in equilibrio sulla linea di demarcazione tra fantasy e fantascienza, in un certo senso basato sull’adagio di Sir Artur C. Clarke:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

E allora, se una tecnologia sufficientemente avanzata è indistinguibile dalla magia, perché non ambientare un gioco di ruolo in quello che sembra un mondo fantasy ma che in realtà è la Terra tra 1 miliardo d’anni? Continua a leggere

The widower in the sky

old man's war

I did two things, on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.

I received Old Man’s War as a gift from a fellow “beggar blogger” some months ago. I waited a lot before reading it, and when I started Mr. Scalzi’s novel I finished it in a couple of days.
That’s how much entertaining and riveting Old Man’s War is.
In 351 pages, the novel tells the story of John Parry and his voyage from being a 75 years old widower on Earth to being a soldier in the Colonial Defense Forces, battling alien species among the stars and on distant planets, for the sake of milions of human colonists.

The transformation from “old fart” to perfectly fit soldier is, in the end, not the strangest or most exciting thing to happen in John’s life, but I will not indulge in spoilers, because this book is worth reading and discovery on your own.

What is great, turning points and surprises apart, is the ability of the author in weaving a story full of interesting characters that are believable, distinct, strong, easy to empathise with.

When the group of 1022 recruits John is part of is lectured about the survival ratio of CDF soldiers, you know some of the friends John made on the road to the training facilities will have to die. If within 10 years 75% of the recruits will be dead, it’s only logical to expect death and mayhem among his new-found friends. And Scalzi does nothing to play cozy in that field. As Holly Lisle says, “Hell hath no fury like a writer on a roll”; and Scalzi knows how to deliver shivers of horror and piety without overindulging in the gore-department.

The zealots of “show, don’t tell” would probably have something negative to say about it, but that’s bullshit: Scalzi succeeds in creepping you out just telling the right bits and snippets to evocate a deadly universe in which humans can be targets, sinners to redeem in order to make them enter a superior state of being, or just delicious food to enjoy. In which the CDF are outnumbered and sometimes have to fight other humans.

In the end it, what Old Man’s War depict is a lighter univers than one can think, because it’s a universe in which a man can find a new place and purpose even when old, in which there are plenty of threats, but also plenty of possibilities.

Debtor towards Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers”, this novel is nonetheless a strong tale of its own, able to support itself and devoid of those chunks of lecture that could make “Starship Troopers” a less pleasant reading. Here everything has a purpose, everything is used with the economy of the story in mind.

If you’re an emotional reader, you’ll laugh (the first encounters with of computer personal assistants are great!), you’ll love some characters, you’ll deeply despise others, you’ll mourn every loss, you’ll find yourself unable to put the book down if there’s even only a hint of strong action going on (and that’s pretty much all the time), you’ll feel the melancholia of a man who is going to loose his stars, you’ll smirk reading some well known last names.

It’s going to be a fun reading, so hop on it and enjoy it. The stars await you.

C (299,792 km/s)

C - short film - GioveC (299792 KM/S) mi è capitato sotto il naso per caso, qualche giorno fa, per merito del titolo di quest’articolo.
L’idea di girare oggi (o ieri) un corto di fantascienza usando solo tecniche “antiquate” e niente CGI è suonata subito intrigante.
Quanti film abbiamo visto che non erano altro che oceani di CGI con una scarna trama attorno?

C - short film - grafica del computerCerto, la mia parte pessimista ha tremato all’idea di modellini di cartapesta coi fili di nylon che si vedono, di quell’effetto “fatto in casa” capace di distruggere ogni credibilità in qualunque cosa e trasformarla in una baracconata.
Ma la mia parte pessimista è lì per proteggermi dall’orrore della vita; a riequilibrare, c’è la parte che spera sempre in bene, in ogni situazione.

E la mia parte speranzosa non è stata delusa. Il film è rivelato una gran meraviglia per gli occhi e per l’anima. Come riassumono i suoi creatori,

C is the story of Liutenant Commander Malleck and her radical act of mutiny during an interplanetary cold war.

C - short film - Malleck - Caroline WintersonFinanziato grazie a un kickstarter che ha fruttato il doppio di quanto sperato, e pubblicato su vimeo il 28 di gennaio, C sono poco meno di 15 minuti di fantascienza vecchio stile, col mood che sa di anni ’70, grazie a grafica e colonna sonora (disponibile per l’acquisto o l’ascolto qui), ma con la pulizia visiva che solo le moderne macchine da presa sanno ottenere in situazioni di illuminazione soffusa.
Lascio maggiori commenti tecnici a chi ci capisce più di me e riesce a capire fino in fondo quel che uno dei registi spiega in quest’intervista molto tecnica; io so solo che è un piccolo spettacolo da guardare!

C - short film - Kai - Andrew FarrierNelle intenzioni dei creatori…

C isn’t a mainstream sci-fi movie, it is a tribute to scientific ideals and a departure from the sci-fi status quo.

… e credo che possano andare fieri del loro lavoro, perché è davvero un tributo a certi ideali e ben lontano da tanta fantascienza.
A pelle, io ci sento tanto dello spirito di fine anni ’70, quello di Colonie umane nello spazio e della guerra fredda, l’insieme di paura e speranza, di fiducia nelle potenzialità della tecnologia e di incertezza per il domani.
E il filmato che inframmezza la storia, che poi è l’unico vero elemento di “spiegone”, beh, sembra quasi preso di peso dal libro di O’Neil, soprattutto alla luce della frase finale:

We have the knowledge and the means. All we lack is the will.

C - short film - rottaBuona visione!