Star Wars Special: C-3PO

April 14th, 2016

Ever wandered why C-3P0 appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a bright red arm the first time we see him?

Well, now we finally get to know that! As teased by J.J. Abrams in the Secrets of the Force Awakens documentary, a special Marvel comic has just been released to tell us the story behind the red limb.

In a surprisingly moving and maybe uncharacteristic story, we travel with C-3P0 and friends, along a very dangerous road. I don’t want to say much more, to avoid spoiling any surprises, but it’s a nice take on the nature of droids and their man-made consciousness; a rare behind the scene at what’s going on inside a protocol droid’s circuitry.

You can get it right now on comiXology for £ 2.99 (Or any fine comic book store). A no-brainer insta-buy if you ask me!

Behind The Scene Of The Martian

October 3rd, 2015

A very nice and in-depth discussion between Andy Weir (the author of The Martian) and Adam Savage (of Mythbuster fame) about how The Martian came to be, including the crazy accurate math.


Well worth the 55 minutes run.



November 24th, 2014

We are now less than a month away from the release of my new book “From Here To There And Back”. I’m now in the polishing stage, making sure that the story flows and it’s easy to follow. Below you can read the Prologue to the story, a small teaser for what’s coming!

A Regular Life

Walking on Guildford High Street, Mark slowly reached the top of the hill past the Major House. From up there you could always enjoy a view of the entire street, watching all the people going on with their business, small like ants at the bottom of the street.

It was one of the first cold days of autumn, with leaves on the trees already turning brown and branches exposed to the swift wind. The sun was still shining in the mid-afternoon but it wasn’t really that warm anymore. It was that time of the day when you’d better retrieve in a coffee shop.

Mark knew exactly the place to go. Just in front of the Major House, past the big arch, on the way to the Castle. At the end of a small road with just a couple of small shops there was one of the best coffee shops in town. Small, friendly and with a nice sugary smell in the air, this place was for Mark like going home. Over the years he became a “regular” and so just by going through the door his order was already on the way.

“Medium cappuccino with cinnamon on top!”, the barista half-shouted toward Mark. “Thanks Mike! You’re the king of coffee, you know it right?” This very same conversation happened every time, but it never got old.

The real reason why Mark always came to this very spot was that when sitting by the main big window and looking out, he could see his favorite landmark: the Guildford Castle.

To this day if asked, Mark couldn’t really give a satisfying answer on why he was so obsessed with that place. It was probably because he grew up with a fascination for all things medieval, having King Arthur and his Knights as his childhood heroes. Or perhaps it was because that crumbling tower was a proof of the passing times and how strongly we human beings always wanted to leave behind a sign of our presence and power on this earth.

Either way, the Castle and its gardens were frequently visited by Mark, a personal ‘sancta sanctorum’ of some sort, where he could collect his thoughts and where many times in the past he went to reflect on important decisions about his life. It was there where he met Joanna for the first time.

It was through the window of this very same coffee shop that he saw her walking down the road and into the Castle ground. Maybe a sign of the destiny, he followed her to the base of the Tower where he then very tentatively walked up to her to start a very awkward first conversation.

For Mark it wasn’t easy to look back at those times, especially not after that terrible night that took her away from him, leaving him stranded and without a purpose on this planet. Or so he thought. Destiny wasn’t done with Mark just yet and possibly the biggest adventure of his life was just around the corner.

What If?

October 12th, 2014

They say there are no stupid questions. That’s obviously wrong.

Written by Randall Munroe (the creator of xkcd), “What If?” is a collection of answers to previously unanswered questions received through the homonymous website.

 […] it turns out that trying to thoroughly answer a stupid question can take you to some pretty interesting place.

In this book many things will explode and on average humanity ends up being extinct every two or three questions, but the attention to details and the constant wit of the author make up for a great reading.

I gave it 5 stars on Amazon. Greatly recommended.

A Tea With The Queen

December 12th, 2012


Finally the wait is over! My new photographic book is finally available on the iBookstore!! It’s free and iPad only (iPad 2 or newer and iPad mini). You can find it at the following link.

If you don’t have an iPad compatible, you can download a PDF version here (it’s 187MB). Of course is not as interactive as the iPad version, but you can still enjoy all the pictures!!

I hope you’ll like it. If you do, please rate and comment on the iBookstore or on my social profiles below!

I Gave Another Knock To The Publishing Business

September 4th, 2012

Now I really understand why the business of publishing books using a traditional publishing house is in deep crisis. And I will tell you why. Yesterday I’ve officially launched my book as a paperback edition in addition to it being available on the iBook Store.

How much money does it cost? Zero.

Yes, zero. I’ve used a service offered by an Amazon-owned company called CreateSpace. Basically it’s a company that enables self-publishing of real paper books, giving you a tons of options to choose from, again: for free.

Of course there are more advanced services and add-ons available for a premium charge, but I can assure you that the basic plan is more than enough for an amateur writer like me and like the majority of the self-publishing people out there.

The process is quite simple: you have to upload your text (it has to be at least 24 pages long) and go through a series of proof-reading and style adjustments in order to make your book compliant with a number of publishing standards. The book itself is also reviewed by the CreateSpace own staff to assure a minimum level of quality and an additional proof-reading experience.

You have full control on the format of the page, the dimension of the book and the creation of the cover. Once everything is setup you are good to go.

You have the option to choose where this book will be available (in my case it will be distributed by the CreateSpace store as well as by Amazon worldwide) and you can even set your price.

Pricing is probably the only “downside” of this service, if you’re planning of making a living out of your sales. As I said before the service is free but the platform itself will take a lot of money out of the price you’ll set. Based on the dimension of the book they will assign you a minimum price (it shows all the different currencies automatically generatd based on the $ price). If you leave it like that you’ll see that you won’t get anything from the sale of a copy. Since I’m not planning to make a living out of my book “Up In The Sky”, I’ve just moved the price up so that I will get around $1 for each copy.

To me this is more like an experiment to see if a short novel self-published by an unknown author could sell at least one copy (exept the one that I’m going to buy for myself!).

Because of course, the weak link in the self-publishing process is promotion. Promotion is still the big value of a Publishing House, even if this value is getting lower and lower thanks to the rise of different social networks.

If you score a traditional contract, you will be able to use the promotion power and distribution pipe of your publishing house. These two elements still account a lot into the success or failure of a book, but they don’t came for free. As Amazon/CreateSpace does, every publishing house takes almost all the money from the sell of a book, leaving the author with his basic contract plus some royalties.1.

Despite that, the rise of importance of tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is creating new landscapes. Nowadays if you have a decent group of followers across your social networks, you can achieve pretty good results. I can give you my numbers, which are not to be taken as absolute but they can give you a good picture. As you know I have three books on the iBookStore and they are all standing at about 6/7 downloads per day. Now you have to consider that all of these titles are available for free, so this can change the perspective. That’s why I’ve put my second best-seller (Lost In The UK) on sale on Amazon as a Kindle title. Using the lower possible price point ($0.99 with next to zero profits) the downloads rate dropped to 1 per day. The reasons for this drop are essentially two: the new price (going from free to almost $1) and the difference in the catalog size. The iBookStore is still farely a young marketplace with a limited number of titles available and this makes the discovery of new titles a possible mission. On the other hand, the Kindle store is simply huge: between hundreds of thousand of titles it’s more difficult to find something if you’re not directly searching for it.

Those are the reason why a strong social audience can make the difference. In my small world of less than 300 followers on Twitter mostly active (look for my username @matteodallombra here) and a lot of friends on Facebook, I was able to spread the word about my books enough to make other people share the news with their networks, obtaining a nice cascading effect.

If I was able to achieve these results with limited resources I don’t see how more famous authors with a bigger audience couldn’t achieve the self-sustained self-publishing status, dropping the services offered by a Publishing House.

There’s no doubt that the market has dramatically changed in a very short period of time, with traditional publishers unable to keep the same pace. They need to adapt to the new rules and the first thing they should do is to embrace the digital and social revolution by making all their titles immediately available as a digital download for a significantly smaller amount of money. Cutting the middle man will account for more direct profits, eliminating the huge costs of the printing world.

But what about libraries? As they’re concived now they have no future. They’re going to experience the same transition that music shops had to suffer. The majority of them will close and only some will survive as a vintage club where paper lovers can gather to satisfy their needs. To survive today, they should probably reconvert to official ditributors of e-readers and their accessories, with staff still book-savvy being able to suggest the best titles to their customers. Instead of picking the volume from they shelf, they will email the Amazon link from the smartphone or tablet that has become a mobile POS.

I know that me announcing the availability of a paperback edition of my book clearly denies the majority of the last paragraphs, but I’m still a person of a middle generation, born with paper all around and then quietly converted to the e-ink. I still enjoy a real book, even if I love the extreme portability and the immediate availabilty of a digital title.

Me publishing a real book is more a way to satisfy my ego than an attempt to revitalize the deeply troubled publishing business.

  1. I don’t know the exact numbers, but a friend of mine who writes for living he’s not super happy with the figures he receive (he can’t really discuss all the details of his contract). 

Up in the sky

June 12th, 2012

Do you believe in love at first sight? Jack didn’t, until his latest flight, where the most amazing adventure happened to him.

Up In The Sky is a short novel about a normal guy who finally find his perfect love. Will he be able to keep it together?

Or read it here:

Lost in the UK

May 13th, 2012

Lost in the UK is a short collection of thoughts and adventure I’ve collected in the past months. After moving in Guildford a new chapter has started for me, a new period full of new discoveries and emotion.

Join me in this journey across this beautiful country.

Or, read it here online: