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It seems to me that connect() can block (30 seconds in my case) when
the DNS server for the domain is unreachable. I only discovered this
the other day and haven't managed to confirm the finding yet. If it's
true then it seems I need to switch DNS lookups for A records also to
our async DNS library...

Yes, the DNS lookup can do that. What does an async DNS
library look like? It seems as though you should have no
trouble replacing the DNS lookup in LuaSocket with something
else, without any changes to C code.