Westworld: the epilogue without an ending

 My thoughts on one of the best sci-fi series in the last 10 years


© HBO


In the past, I happened to talk about the TV series “Westworld” on FantascientifiCast (the link will take you to an English translation on my blog). However, the podcast episode and article only focused on the first season, as it was the only one that had been produced to that point.

 

It was followed by three more seasons.

 

If you have not seen the second and third seasons, stop reading, as you may find some spoilers. On the fourth, however, I limit myself to making some considerations, but which only really make sense to those who know what I’m talking about. In short, this article is mainly aimed at those who have seen the entire series.

 

The second season represented a true continuation of the first, since the story still took place within the park. At the time, I found its ending exciting, because it would have satisfied me even if they hadn’t renewed the series for more seasons. What I wanted was for the story to continue outside the park, in the real world of the future. An open ending like this, with the escape of Dolores (or rather her artificial intelligence), was at least a promise of this continuation.

 

One of the reasons I love open endings in stories where there’s a lot that is left unresolved is that I can always imagine for myself what happens next.

But then the third season actually arrived, and it was even better than expected.

What I appreciated is precisely the way in which it represents an extreme take on our reality, in which everything we do could be influenced by the data (information, advertising, etc.) that is shown to us based on our browsing habits and on what we interact with when we are online. If whatever manages what we are continuously exposed to was not an algorithm whose final aim is only to induce us to buy products, but an artificial super-intelligenceits ability to condition our vision of reality to push us to become what it wants (or what someone else has decided) does not seem like something impossible at all.

 

I must admit that while watching the third season, I looked several times with suspicion at the cookie banner that appears every time I visit a site for the first time!

For my personal taste, up to that point my appreciation of Westworld had been growing, so I was afraid of what I would find in the fourth season. After I finished watching it, however, my first comment was: wow!

 

I have to say that I enjoyed every minute of all the episodes and I can confirm that it is my favourite science fiction series after Battlestar Galactica.

It is practically impossible to go into detail without spoiling, so I will limit myself to a few scattered considerations.

 

After the finale of season three, which partly seemed to take inspiration from the basic idea of the film “Futureworld” (the sequel to the original film “Westworld” by Crichton), I didn’t know what to expect from this fourth. I certainly didn’t expect to find myself faced with a real role reversal between humans and androids. In reality, the theme of conditioning of freewill by an artificial intelligence (metaphor of the current algorithms that already influence our lives), which is dear to me (and which you can find in some of my books), should have warned me. The evolution that takes place in the fourth season, after all, seems like an almost natural consequence, in terms of the logic of developing a story. Except that it is taken so far beyond the initial premises that it leaves the viewer speechless.

 

Added to all this, there are the numerous elements inserted into the plot that brought to mind similar elements I used in my books (I can’t tell you what it is, because it would be a huge spoiler!), albeit in a completely different context. Seeing my fantasies shown in a similar way by a science fiction series of this level was truly exciting. It’s a sort of creative convergence that made me feel in perfect harmony with this work of fiction. At moments, it was as if the TV was reading my mind and showing me the story I wanted to see. Crazy.

 

All this exaltation, however, did not prevent me from pointing out some critical aspects.

 

First, I asked myself some questions that were not answered.

Is there only one city left in the world? Or are there others too, and are they all made the same way? From what we see in the series, the first option seems to be the correct one, but nothing is explained, which is undoubtedly a shortcoming.

If this is the situation, it seems a bit excessive to me, even if 23 years have passed.

And, speaking of excesses, the events in the last episode seemed a little rushed to me.

 

Honestly, I don’t like apocalyptic contexts, because that’s what it’s all about, and in particular it bothered me that in a certain sense the story, which, once out of the park, had opened up to a thousand possibilities, is now tremendously closed in on itself.

These aspects, however, do not undermine the good quality of the rest of the series, which deals with very current themes literally surrounding us, and does so by reinventing them in a dystopian future through a very complicated plot (another aspect that is particularly congenial to me). In short, it forces us to think on multiple levels, both to find our current reality in it and to put together the myriad of pieces that are shown to us in non-chronological order, in order to be able to get to the bottom of it. Its vision is a real challenge.

 

Furthermore, it must be considered that this story is not over.

The finale of the season, in reality, is not an ending. The authors deliberately left it open in the hope of a renewal for a final season. Unfortunately, however, a few months later, the confirmation arrived that the series had been cancelled.

 

It’s really a shame, because I was really curious to see what they would have come up with, since really, after the tragic events of the last episode, they had got themselves into quite a mess. Of course, they had the possibility of taking the story where they wanted, given that they had practically made a clean sweep of everything else, but the risk of coming out with an inadequate epilogue was very high.

 

In all honesty, if they had renewed it, I would never have wanted to find myself in the shoes of the creators and screenwriters.

 

Who knows, maybe one day some production company will acquire the rights to complete the story. Or I would like them to publish the ending as a novel, so I could imagine it in my head with greater freedom, and if I didn’t like it, pretend it never existed.

 

Or maybe it’s better to leave it like that, like something that could have been perfect. Thanks to the absence of a real ending, nothing will be able to deny this impression.

 

There is certainly one thing I hope for most of all, that is, that they never make a reboot of it!

 

I’m a tennis addict

 I might add: and I’m proud of it!

Sardegna Open 2023, Cagliari (Italy), picture by ®Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli


No, wait, this doesn’t mean I play tennis. I have never played tennis. My father tried to teach me something when I was a little girl, but then, due to lack of time, I didn’t continue.

No, I don’t play tennis. I like watching others do it, especially good ones.


I discovered this passion of mine only a few years ago. In the past I watched this sport with curiosity, but only every now and then I had the opportunity to watch a match, also because it was objectively more difficult to catch one on free-to-air TV in Italy before the arrival of SuperTennis (the FITP - Italian tennis federation - channel). But every time, I was hypnotised by that ball that went back and forth on the court and by the prowess of those guys and gals who hit it.


This probably comes from the fact that my father played when he was young and there was a court right in our apartment block, so it wasn’t uncommon to find some used tennis balls among my toys.

But then I concentrated on football, on supporting Cagliari (the team from my city), which I still do.


Then came the pandemic, and tennis, being a non-contact sport, was one of the first to resume. So I started following it more consistently, and in a short time I was hooked.


There are many things I like about tennis.


First of all, the fact that it’s physics in action: that ball goes there because it was hit a certain way.


Secondly, it is an extremely psychological sport. There are shots, talent, fitness, tactics, but what can make the difference is how the player feels in that moment. It takes very little, almost nothing, to change the inertia of a match just because the player feels confident in his abilities or loses this confidence. Mental strength, which allows you to forget your own mistake or an opponent’s feat and start playing as if nothing had happened, can prevail over the rest.


Also, tennis matches are like thrillers. Sometimes all it takes is an episode, perhaps a lucky one, a twist, which can decide the fate of a game and create the conditions to overturn the result. It’s never over until it’s over. A player can be on the brink of the abyss, three match points down (even more, if it’s a tie-break), and cancel them, then win the set and ultimately win the match. Anything could happen.


And then there is everything that happens off court: the preparation, the planning of the season, the commitment of the players, the ambition, the ability to improve oneself to become stronger in all aspects.


The best thing is to see players who, from the beginning of their career, achieve their first successes, accumulate points, and slowly rise in the ranking, measure themselves against the great and then perhaps become like or better than them.


In all this I find inspiration.


Finally, tennis has the peculiarity of being practised all year round. With the exception of December, every week there is at least one tennis tournament from the major circuits (ATP and WTA) and, with all the Italians, both men and women, achieving excellent results in this sport, this means that there is always a match worth watching. I often have breakfast in front of a match on TV, perhaps after getting up early so as not to miss it, given that the tours touch all continents. In a way, it’s comforting to know that I can watch something I like even every day if I want.


Initially I did it every now and then, but then I started to get to know the players better, their stories, and become passionate about their game. Now I find myself organising my life, both daily and concerning my scheduled commitments, including any holidays, in such a way as not to miss the tournaments that interest me.


And, sometimes, one of my holidays is nothing more than a trip to go and see a tournament, and then while I’m there, I also act as a tourist.


I admit that being self-employed makes things a lot easier for me! If I had fixed work hours, it would be a big problem to see a match in the morning and afternoon or, even worse, during the night.


It might seem that tennis takes up time, a lot of time. On the one hand, it is true since sometimes, at the beginning of a big tournament like a Slam, it happens that there are even four or five matches of Italian tennis players in one day, some of which do not overlap and therefore which I can watch. On the other hand, however, having this type of commitment leads me to make better use of my time.


Having a limited number of hours available to work on something, rather than generally the whole day, pushes me to be more disciplined because I will be able to get my reward afterwards. For example, now that I’m writing this article I’m waiting for a TV match to start and this pushes me to write quickly, instead of sitting there thinking about it a lot or, worse, messing around on some social network!


But it also helped me review my priorities. I realised that I often dealt with unnecessary things more out of habit than out of real interest (now lost). Indeed, in the end they made me feel unnecessarily dissatisfied, since it no longer gave me pleasure to do them and at the same time they did not lead to the desired results. Much better to leave them aside and watch a bit of tennis, to find the good mood (especially in case of victory!) necessary to face my duties and new stimulating challenges.


But I have to admit: tennis is addictive. I notice it when I don’t have any matches to watch for a couple of days. Not to mention in December! But in that case at least, I console myself with figure skating on ice.


Anyway, it is a nice addiction, one of those without side effects.

Okay, now I really have to go: not only has the match started, but I wrote the last sentences during a changeover!

Detective Shaw’s London: Curtis Green Building (New Scotland Yard)

I opened this series of articles with the old New Scotland Yard, which from 1967 until October 2016 was in a building at 10 Broadway, and it seems right to close it with the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service of London, which has occupied a building on Victoria Embankment since November 2016: the Curtis Green Building.

Located along the Thames, more or less opposite the London Eye, the Curtis Green Building owes its name to the architect who designed it in the 1930s: William Curtis Green. It is a white building in neoclassical style built between 1935 and 1940 and which has always belonged to the London Metropolitan Police. It was initially used as an extension of the police headquarters, housing the forensic science and technology departments. Later, when the headquarters was moved to Broadway, it became the Whitewall Police Station until 2010.

The renovation of the building which took place between 2015 and 2016 was designed by Arup (the same company that created the London Eye and the new roof of the departures concourse of King’s Cross Station) and gave it a touch of modernity while maintaining the original structure. On the roof of the new entrance delimited by a glass wall, a sign bearing the words “New Scotland Yard” was positioned, while on its right side the famous rotating sign was installed, taken from the old location. At the other end of the entrance is the Eternal Flame, a flame always lit in commemoration of the fallen officers.


Leaving the Curtis Green Building and crossing the road, you find yourself on the Victoria Embankment riverfront, from which you can admire the buildings on the opposite bank. If, however, you walk in the opposite direction to the flow of the waters of the Thames, you will soon arrive near Big Ben and Palace of Westminster (house of the British Parliament).

While moving to the Curtis Green Building, the Metropolitan Police, as well as taking the rotating sign with them, also moved the Black Museum, which unfortunately continues to not be open to the public.

Obviously, unless you get arrested, it isn’t possible to see the inside of this building, but I think that, given the optimal position, it’s still worth it to admire it from the outside and take some photos (the images in this article are by David Holt CC 2.0).

Having become New Scotland Yard, the Curtis Green Building appears in the last book of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, “Beyond the Limit”, precisely in this capacity and above all as the headquarters of one of the teams (Eric’s) from Forensic Services of the Metropolitan Police.

Several scenes of the novel are set inside it, which obviously I have never seen and to describe which I relied on my imagination, shaping it to my liking based on the needs of the story (in reality it is substantially different). In the latter we mainly see Eric in his new office, the IT laboratory, the meeting room, and also Jane’s office. To be honest, I don’t even know if there is any section of Forensic Services in the Curtis Green Building (whose main laboratory in London is located in Lambeth Road), in any case I decided to have the characters move within its walls because of its geographical position (in front of the London Eye) and above all because, being a renovated building, it represents the ideal place for a new beginning in Eric’s life.

But to understand what I’m talking about, I’m afraid you’ll have to read the book.

Detective Shaw’s London: King’s Cross Station

One of the most important railway stations in London is located in Camden and represents the terminus of the East Coast Main Line heading to the north-east of England and Scotland: King’s Cross Station.

Originally opened in 1852, it has undergone numerous expansions and renovations over the course of more than 160 years, the latest of which, dating back to 2012, is responsible for its current appearance, particularly the brand-new departures concourse, a semi-circular structure with a steel and glass roof designed by Arup (the same company that designed the London Eye).

King’s Cross station is adjacent to St Pancras International, which is the terminus for Eurostar services from mainland Europe, and below both is the huge underground station of King’s Cross St Pancras, which has more lines running through it than any other station on the London Underground network.

Taken together, these three stations represent a transport hub of the United Kingdom, so it is very likely that you will find yourself in one of them when travelling to London.

 

In particular, if you find yourself taking a train at (or arriving to) King’s Cross Station, remember to pay a short visit to the so-called Platform 93/4. It is a ghost platform located between platform 9 and platform 10, which can be accessed by passing through a brick wall (but only if you are a wizard!) and which is mentioned in the Harry Potter Saga. In the past, the sign referring to it and the trolley stuck in the wall were located right near the access to platforms 9 to 11, but in 2012, following the renovation, they were moved near the merchandising shop inspired by the franchise from Rowling’s books. In fact, the scenes in the films featuring the station’s exterior were not filmed at King’s Cross, but at St Pancras.

 


King’s Cross station takes its name from the neighbourhood that hosts it: a central area of London that extends between Camden and Islington. To find out more, take a look at the King’s Cross official website.

King’s Cross” is also the title of a song by Pet Shop Boy inspired by the station (a bit like what happened with the West End and “West End Girls” by the same band), as a place of arrival for people from the north-east of England in search of work.

 

King’s Cross Station makes an appearance in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, specifically in the final book, “Beyond the Limit”. In the late afternoon of 22 May 2017, DI Miriam Leroux and Sergeant Mills rush to the arrival platform of the train coming from Cambridge in search of a woman who may be in the sights of a serial killer.

But I can’t tell you if they find her.

Detective Shaw’s London: the London Eye

Leaving the parliament building behind us and walking along Victoria Embankment, our gaze is immediately caught by an enormous white Ferris wheel located on the opposite side of the Thames, between Westminster and Hungerford bridges: the London Eye.
It is one of London’s newest attractions. Built in 1999 and opened to the public in March 2000, the London Eye is the largest Ferris wheel in Europe and, until the completion of the Shard, it was also the highest point from which you can admire the city.

Leaning over the waters of the Thames, the London Eye is supported by an A-shaped structure, the tie rods of which are anchored over a small area of the Jubilee Gardens.
If we cross the river on Westminster Bridge and approach the wheel, we cannot help but raise our nose more and more as we get closer to it, in an attempt to embrace it entirely with our gaze. Although I have never boarded it (so far), in all my trips to London following its construction (the photos in this article were taken in 2008, except for the last one, which is from 2012) I found myself every time admiring it from below with a slight sense of vertigo.

The ticket office is located in the building almost in front (a little to the right) of the reception for boarding the cabins, in any case, given that it is the most popular attraction in the city (3.5 million of visitors in the year), it is advisable to book your ticket online, on the official website, thus also obtaining a small discount.
The duration of the ride in one of the thirty-two cabins (equipped with interactive guides), which move slowly enough to allow you to get on and off without stopping them, is thirty minutes in total. It is undoubtedly an exhilarating experience, provided that the weather conditions do not reduce visibility.

The London Eye is managed by Merlin Entertainment (the same one that manages Madame Tussauds, but also Gardaland in Italy!) and changes its official name every certain number of years (variable) acquiring from time to time that of its sponsor.

To get to the London Eye, the nearest Tube station is Waterloo, but Charing Cross, Embankment, and Westminster are quite close. The attraction also has a pier, the London Eye Pier, where boats from Thames Clippers and City Cruises stop.

The London Eye plays a very important role in the final book of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy. In addition to being located exactly on the opposite side of the Thames from the Curtis Green Building (new headquarters of New Scotland Yard), and therefore visible even from Eric’s office, the entire area in its immediate vicinity is the location of a dramatic action scene in “Beyond the Limit”, which involves one of the victims of the Plastic Surgeon, but also Eric, DI Miriam Leroux (Murder Investigation Team), Sergeant Mills (Murder Investigation Team) and PC Cora Patel (a new character). However, I cannot tell you more without ruining the surprise of discovering what will happen in this scene and, above all, how it will end.

At night, the London Eye becomes even more beautiful thanks to the coloured lights that illuminate the wheel and the inside of the cabins.

Detective Shaw’s London: Covent Garden Market

One of the most characteristic neighbourhoods of the City of Westminster, located in the east of the West End, of which it constitutes the beating heart, is Covent Garden. Its name derives from a distortion of the term “Convent Garden” since between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the garden of a convent was there, but it is mostly associated with two historical places found within it: the Royal Opera House, which is often simply referred to as Covent Garden, and the Covent Garden Market.

The latter is located in the central square of the neighbourhood, and in the past hosted a real market, the modern version of which was moved to Nine Elms (New Covent Garden Market) in 1974. The current Covent Garden Market is more of a shopping centre, which houses shops, restaurants, and a craft market, called Apple Market.

From a historical point of view, the first evidence of the existence of a market in Covent Garden can be traced back to 1654, but the neoclassical building which represents the current heart of the neighbourhood was built much later: in 1830. In the 1960s, increased traffic became a major problem, prompting the construction of a new building in Nine Elms and the relocation of the market there in the following decade. The old building was then converted into the current shopping centre and reopened in 1980.

For anyone going to London the Covent Garden Market is a stop not to be missed to spend some time listening to live music while drinking something cold or hot (depending on the season), to try one of its restaurants, to make some purchases or, simply, to stop and watch the cheerful comings and goings of people who crowd it every day.

Getting there is easy since on the Piccadilly Line there is a station called Covent Garden, which is a stone’s throw from the market. Another particularly close station is Leicester Square on the Piccadilly Line and the Northern Line.

 


I happened to go there almost every time I was in London (the photos date back to 2011) and so I couldn’t help but mention it in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy.

In particular, the market is the place where a scene of the final book, “Beyond the Limit”, takes place, in which DCI George Jankowski, Eric’s colleague and also the head of another forensic team, meets a journalist, Burton Phillips, who manages a judicial crime blog and who in 2014 followed the trial against the man believed to be the serial killer called “Plastic Surgeon”. Although the man was convicted and is in prison, the recent murder of a woman at Madame Tussauds suggests that the same killer is behind it.

The conversation between Jankowski and Phillips ideally takes place at one of the tables visible in the second photo above. Precisely this photo inspired me to write the scene, so much so that it is even possible to see the boy mentioned at the beginning as he’s taking a photo of the musicians.

New year, new resolutions (?): 2024

The end of the year has arrived again and with it the time to take stock and define some goals for the one that is about to begin.

But is it really necessary?

I recently reorganised a good part of the contents of my Italian blog and I realised that there were as many as twelve posts dedicated to New Year’s resolutions, meaning that this is the thirteenth year that I have decided to end by writing such an article. And I wondered if it still makes sense to do it.

Of course, it’s more of an exercise to refresh my thoughts on the things I did in the last twelve months, but it was originally thought as a way to encourage myself to continue my projects related to writing and then publishing.

Although I completed pre-existing publishing projects this year (I’ll tell you about them shortly), I didn’t start any new ones since at least the end of 2020, when I finished writing and published my last book in Italian.

 

As I already mentioned to you a year ago, in fact, at the moment what I want most in the publishing field is to finish everything I started, in order to draw a line on my work, before finally understanding which direction to take my efforts in. In short, I absolutely need to complete past years’ resolutions once and for all before I can define new ones.

To this end in early 2023 I compiled a long list that included them all, plus many other things I had been considering for some time, but had never listed in one place, and from then on I started to address each point, possibly in order, and then cross it out once completed. The list contains something like fifty items, some of which have numerous sub-items. So far I have crossed out eighteen, while six are in progress (some very close to completion).

In short, the road is still long, but I don’t consider it a problem as long as I continue to move forward.

 

Looking at the list now, it might seem like I didn’t do much. In reality, some of the items include commitments that are anything but quick, starting from the resolutions I had set for myself at the end of 2022.

Do you remember them? There were three in total.

The first, and most substantial one, was to complete the preparation and publication of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy in English. At the end of 2022 I had already published the new translation of “The Mentor”, while, as I had planned, “Syndrome” and “Beyond the Limit” were released on 28 February and 31 May respectively.

As you can imagine, this way the first five months of the year and a good part of the sixth were taken up with all the preparation work, publishing and promotion.

I am very satisfied with the books, both in terms of content and packaging.

Compared to the Italian versions I made few changes to the covers, mainly concerning the font used for my name and, in the paper editions, the spine, where both my new logo and the stylised lotus flower, which represents the trilogy, are visible, with the number of the volume inside it.

Also for these two books, I created five different editions (one ebook and four in print, two of which in hardcover), each of which required some modifications to meet the guidelines of the different platforms. Furthermore, I have prepared some promotional images, along the lines of the one created for “The Mentor”, which you can see in this article.

 

The promotion went more or less as I expected: as long as I promoted the books, they sold well, as soon as I stopped, they stopped too. But unfortunately, this is the case in general, even more so in a boundless market like the English-speaking one.

But it was fun to do a blog tour and read the reviews of the bloggers who participated or I contacted separately: everyone seemed to enjoy the books. I have also followed with interest the various promotional activities, in particular the paid newsletters, among which I obtained an international Bookbub Featured Deal (in the UK, Canada and Australia), which went better than I expected. Looking at the numbers, I was pleased to notice that a good part of the readers who buy the first book then proceed with the second and then with the third.

 

I didn’t expect to repeat the success that “The Mentor” had had with AmazonCrossing in 2015, because this time I was alone, I couldn’t count on the promotional push of Amazon Publishing, but my main intent was to complete the project to have the entire trilogy in English, so as to allow those who started reading it to get to the end of the story. Furthermore, only by having it all in English could I then think of new ways to reach other readers.

In the first half of this year I also tried to move towards one of my dreams, which will probably never come true (although never say never!), that is seeing something I wrote appear on the (big or small) screen. I tried it with the trilogy. I’ve seen some interest in continental Europe, but there was zero in the UK, even though I’d made a lot more contacts there over the past few years. Some producers have even read the first book. One of them (from a production company based in Germany) was even enthusiastic about it and considered optioning the book (or the entire series).

Unfortunately, as you can imagine, since I didn’t tell you about it, in the end nothing happenes. I was a bit sad, but I kind of expected it. Of course, an option doesn’t mean that a series would then be made, but it would have been a personal satisfaction (as well as, within certain limits, an economic one).

And that’s fine: the important thing for me was to leave no stone unturned. I’m happy I tried and I don’t rule out trying again.

All this to tell you how half of 2023 has flown by.
And what happened in the other half?
Well, I wasn’t able to finish upgrading all my sites to make them mobile-friendly.

I’m still working on it, although at least as far as the main Italian website (Anakina.net) is concerned I’m very close to completing the work. At the moment you can’t see any of this on the site as I’m revolutionising it and therefore the changes will only go online when everything is ready. But its general structure is now complete. I just have to finish adding the contents to some pages dedicated to my books (specifically those for the various genres) and fill in the pages for the events (which for now will only contain the past ones), extra contents (some of which I still have to create) and contacts.

Creating the English version should be relatively quick, given that the site will be the same but with the graphic elements in English and the books available in this language, which are only eight out of the total of fifteen in Italian (to which the books by Richard J. Galloway which I translated into my language are added).

Finally, I will still have to do the Italian website of Red Desert and the Aurora Chronicles. The content will not change, but I will simply create an alternative version usable for small screens.

In addition to that, I will also have to do something similar for my website as a freelance translator.

 

What else did I do in 2023?

I have continued to update my old books to remove broken links and outdated information. This regarded my Italian essay on self-publishing, “Self-publishing lab. Il mestiere dell’autoeditore”, which by its nature would require updates every few months, but I’m at least trying to update it once a year.

I then moved on to the English editions, in particular to the books of the Red Desert series. Here, in addition to updating the front and the back matter (i.e. the pages before and after the text of the novel), I ventured into a rereading to try to find some errors that the editor and proofreader missed. Obviously this takes a little longer. However, the first two books have been updated and the corrected versions are now online. I’m currently reviewing the last chapter of the third one, so I plan to finish it by January. Then there remains the fourth, which is the longest, but I can say that I will also be able to complete this commitment in a short time.

 

Among the other things related to publishing that I did this year was that every now and then I tried to put myself back in front of the white sheet, even if with a certain reluctance (to use a euphemism). It was more of an exercise which, in a handful of sessions, led to the writing of the first two scenes of “Evidence”, i.e. the prequel novella of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy.

But don’t get excited!

As I told you, I already have the complete outline of this book. I limited myself to trying to turn the first two points into written pages and I admit that making Miriam Leroux and PC Mills (who was not yet a sergeant at that time) argue was fun. However, I don’t know when or if I’ll move forward and I don’t want to make any commitments about it as I’m not particularly dying to do so.

 

Then obviously there is everything that does not concern writing and publishing, or even my job as translator (which I usually do anyway).

There were summer holidays. This year too I wanted to go to the mountains in July. This time I spent a week in Vinschgau (Val Venosta), one of the few valleys in Trentino South Tyrol that I had never visited. With my partner, we spent a week in Schandlers (or rather in Kortsch, which is a hamlet of it) and from there we moved in various directions to visit places such as Lake Reschen (the one with the famous bell tower emerging from the water that is featured in the Netflix series “Curon”; see the photo above), the sources of the Adige, Glurns, Marienberg Abbey, the Stelvio pass (see the photo below), the Schnalstal (Val Senales), Meran and many others.

If you follow my Facebook page, you will have seen the photos and videos. You can retrieve them more easily on my profile on Instagram, also by seeing the highlighted stories indicated as “Vacanze 2023”. If you are among my friends on my personal Facebook profile, you can find a huge photo album (I always exaggerate!).

It was a truly relaxing week surrounded by the peace of the mountains, dedicated to very long (and often tiring) walks in beautiful places, many of which were not at all crowded with tourists. Indeed, when walking around the lakes or taking one of the many routes you most often met local people, perhaps with a dog in tow, and then it was all “Hallo”, “Bitteschön” and “Dankeschön” to greet each other, give way to the other and say thank you. I must say that we were very good at camouflaging ourselves, thanks to our appearance!


And, since I’m talking about German language, I can say that I’m happy that I managed to freshen it up a bit, especially in the second half of the year. I’m still far from the level I was about ten years ago, but I’m starting to see improvements. I also picked up a book (so to speak, since it’s on Kindle) by a Swiss colleague. I downloaded it several years ago and now I’m trying my hand at reading it. I’m going slowly because I don’t remember several words that I used to know, but with the help of the online dictionary and a little perseverance they are slowly returning.

I should do the same with French too, but maybe we’ll talk about it later. One language at a time!

The trick to doing this was to incorporate studying into my routine before starting work. It wasn’t difficult, because studying languages is fun for me (as is translating). The fact that it is also useful doubles the satisfaction.

 

And I was always able to incorporate a bit of physical activity into my routine, which was one of my three resolutions for the year.

I admit that I haven’t been exactly consistent. I stopped several times for a couple of months, but lately I’ve been managing to do it as soon as I get up, to wake up the body, while the head is still a little asleep.

But don’t imagine who knows how much effort! I take it easy, after checking emails and notifications on my phone (still in bed), after eating a banana (otherwise I’d pass out) and drinking some fruit juice. Then I put myself in front of the TV and do a Zumba class, which can last from a quarter of an hour to an hour. Now that the tennis season has started again I will also get back to working out on my exercise bike in front of the TV.

 

And, speaking of tennis, just like last year, this one I saw a lot of it, probably even more. I must say that from this point of view it was a very satisfying season for us Italian fans (thanks to Jannik Sinner and, of course, the winning of Davis Cup) and this contributed to my general good mood, particularly in the last few months.

But I didn’t just watch it from home.

In May, I attended the ATP Challenger 175 tournament that was organised here in Cagliari (Sardegna Open) and, in September, I went to see the group stage of the Davis Cup in Bologna (you can also find photos of it on Facebook and Instagram; see Lorenzo Sonego in the photo below) and I also took the opportunity to be a bit of a tourist in the city.

I would have also liked to go to Malaga for the finals (and, given how it went in the end, I regret I didn’t), but, apart from the fact that choices have to be made (also for obvious economic reasons), there was little time to organise the travel when they finally made dedicated tickets available to fans of a specific national team. The fact of living in Sardinia and having to take two flights, which are not available every day, certainly doesn’t help, and is also one of the reasons that tend to stop me from going to see tournaments around Europe. Often, in fact, the flights don’t exist at all until a few months before the event when tickets for the tournaments can no longer be found.

However, the three days cheering for Italy at the Unipol Arena were fantastic, apart from a certain discomfort caused by the seats, which for a stay of even ten hours in a row can become quite annoying. But for tennis you do this and more!



Well, I’d say that’s pretty much all I’ve done this year.

If you take a look at last year’s article, you’ll notice that I kept true to two out of three resolutions, that of completing the publication of the trilogy in English and promoting it and that of doing physical activity.

Furthermore, I am well underway with the third one, which is the upgrading of my websites. There is still a lot to do here, but compared to a year ago the path is now clear. I just have to keep working on it, one page at a time.

 

What will be the resolutions for 2024?

I confess that this time I don’t really feel like defining a precise list, since I would end up putting absolutely unnecessary pressure on myself.

My goal remains the same: complete that famous list I told you about. I definitely can’t do it in a year, as it includes some long-term goals, but I would like to at least finish the loose ends.

All right: let’s make a list!

1) Complete the upgrading of my websites to make them suitable for browsing on mobile devices, which is the only resolution from last year that remains pending. If I don’t get distracted by unexpected events, I think I can do it (hopefully!).

2) Continue to do physical activity and remove the rust from my German. This resolution is easy, because it’s the fun part.

3) Finally being able to put myself in front of the question “What do I do now?” and try to give me an answer.


Okay, this is a bit generic, but that’s on purpose, also because this article is becoming too long to delve into the topic in depth.

In reality, the question has been buzzing in my head for a while, and some possible answers are starting to present themselves, but what I’m missing is the chance to get rid of unfinished business first so as not to have to tackle new projects with only a few hours a day available or maybe not even every day.

Among the various things that float in my thoughts there is the desire to dedicate more time to writing articles, which I have probably been carrying on since I started blogging in the noughties, but I don’t want it to be a pastime, also because I have no spare time at all. It must be something more complex, with a purpose, a bit like the blog dedicated to self-publishing with which I promoted my essay in 2020-2021. I’m not talking about an open-ended project, as just the thought of it makes me anxious! But a short and limited writing experience, which allows me to write without embarking on a new book.
The latter would require a mental commitment of a very different level, which at the moment, and certainly as long as I have something else to complete, I don’t feel like making.
We’ll see in the future!

As always, I close by heartily thanking all of you for the support you give me and I wish you a 2024 full of satisfactions.

If you like, tell me about your 2023 and your resolutions for 2024 in the comments, here or on social media.
Have a good end and a good beginning!