Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Cruisin’

Of all the movies that were somehow delayed by the pandemic, Disney’s Jungle Cruise was one of those I had been expecting with the highest anticipation. Possibly only Villeneuve’s Dune sits higher in my can’t-wait-to-see-it list for 2021.
On the downside, yes, it’s a Disney movie, and yes, it is based on a Disneyland ride. But I mean, the first Pirates of the Caribbean was based on a ride, too, right? And this one it features Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, and it’ s a big pulp-style adventure with exotic locales, a treasure, wild animals, the jungle, Conquistadores, headhunters… I mean, where do I sign?

So I went and watched it.

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In the wilderness: on death, betrayal and fear

They say you shouldn’t talk personal stuff on the web, because it’s only going to bring grief, but I don’t care.
So this is going to be a strange post – if I’ll ever post it – but let’s start somewhere good.
Let’s start with Emmylou Harris.
While I can’t say to be a country music lover (I am not), I have always loved Emmylou Harris.
Sometimes in 1990, more or less, I caught on the radio Harris singing “Boulder to Bimingham”, and on the following day I got myself the 1975 records, Elite Hotel and Pieces of the Sky.
What a beautiful voice!

Where is this going?
I’m getting there.

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Cover Reveal: Unbreakable Ink

Indomitable Ink Publishing is a young new publisher and Unbreakable Ink is an anthology edited by Shebat Legion, and I was lucky enough to have a story of mine in it: my dark fantasy Monkey & the Cat was selected and will appear side by side with the works of a number of great authors I have admired for quite a while.
Publishing date and a table of contents are coming soon-ish, but meanwhile, here is the cover…


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The man who sculpted Cthulhu: Stephen Hickman (1949-2021)

I first became aware of Stephen Hickman’s work when I saw the Cthulhu idol the artist sculpted, and that has become to many the definitive look of Big C. In fact, Hickman’s work had been under my eyes for ages, starting with the Dragaera covers he did for Steven Brust, to illustrations for Tolkien and Conan comics and an iconic Harlan Ellison cover.

As a person severely impaired from a graphical point of view, I am forever fascinated by the ability some people have to express themselves through shapes and colors.
Stephen Hickman, who passed away this week, was a great artist and a visual storyteller.
Here is a small gallery of his works (click on the images to enlarge).


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Sheffield Adventure Film Festival

I come back for a moment from my long vacation to share the link of the Sheffield Adventure Film festival 2021, that is screening online a wide and wonderful selection of adventure documentaries.
You can get single tickets or a festival pass relatively cheap, and half the money goes to the filmmakers.

If, like me, you’d love to travel the world but are stuck in the middle of nowhere, this might bring some relief.


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Murder on the sea

My friend Shanmei, that usually writes Chinese-flavored, wuxia-style fantasies, is doing a series of historical mysteries set in the very first days of the last century, and based on the first-hand accounts of her grand-grandfather’s experiences in China and the East.

Murder on the Giava is the first of the adventures of Lieutenant Bianchi, an Italian officer attached to the Italian Expeditionary Corp sent to Peking in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion.

A smart, resourceful young man with a passion for photography, Bianchi is the sort of guy that notices things, and the go-to man when someone turns up dead on the ship that is carrying the Italian troops to China.

Murder on the Giava is a novella-length mystery, filled with historical detail and built around a baffling mystery.

Deception, sabotage, murder … and Bianchi has yet to set foot in China!
This is a nice start for a new series, and I hope we’ll see the sequel soon.
Meanwhile, you can get the book both in digital and paperback form, and it’s an excellent light reading for the summer.

(and yes, I translated it in English, so any problem with the text is my responsibility)