Hello. I am Francis. I write some stuff. 🙂

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~~This page last updated: May 28, 2023~~


The latest thing I’ve published is “Is Magic School Still Worth It?”, a fantasy short story about trying to put a price tag on our nobler aspirations (i.e., magic.) It is available exclusively in print, and it is free! Email me at FrancisRBass (at) Gmail (dot) com if you would like a copy!

Slightly more detailed synopsis here.

Also, my story “The Mechanical Turk Has a Panic Attack” is newly available in audio form, at Escape Pod! Wow!! The story was first published a year ago at Uncharted Magazine, and now you can listen to it, narrated by Valerie Valdes, produced by Summer Brooks, and with some host commentary from Tina Connolly. The title is the plot, essentially. Check it out! And if you’ve read it already, it’s definitely worth a listen, as Valdes does a wonderful job on the narration.


Reading Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King whetted my appetite for books about renaissance Florence, so now I’m listening to another book by King and reading The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone.

The book by Ross King is The Bookseller of Florence, which is about the translation, transcription, and physical production of books in 15th-century Florence. Historical printing and bookmaking technologies have also been a fascination of mine recently, so these are two great tastes that etc. Nice listening so far, good narration by James Cameron Stewart.

The Agony and the Ecstasy is a hack job, and it is glorious. The book is intensely researched and over-detailed. It’s brimming with untranslated Italian, though it pauses and rotely translates each new Italian word the first time it appears. It feels like a biography got put through a novelizing machine, and all the footnotes got spliced into the body of the text. Hell yeah! Stone is just rendering, transposing, and he’s good at it, but there’s no point of view, no style, no artistic spirit to it. He is like David, an artist in the studio of Granacci: “David had been well trained in enlarging to scale the individual sections and transferring them to the cartoon itself, which was the dimension of the church panel. This was not creative work, but it took skill.” The book is delivering on exactly what I want: detailed descriptions of historical clothes, historical foods, historical buildings, of the processes and technologies employed for different forms of artwork in renaissance Florence, all mixed evenly with a satisfying dramatic patter. And the book is like 600 pages, so I’m gonna be working my way through this buffet for a while.


Here’s some videos I took recently while biking around the Navy Yard, an old semi-disused industrial park at the far south end of Philadelphia.

(Although the first clip is from another day, earlier this year, crossing Grays Ferry Bridge.)

Good Websites

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