Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Dark and hopeless: Pale Flower (1964)

Despite the fact that I co-host a podcast about horror movies, I am not a huge horror fan – a lot of the horror movies I like are old and quite tame by today’s standards. If there is a movie genre I can claim to be a true aficionado of, is certainly noir. And the opportunity of watching an old noir I have so far missed is always a cause for celebration. The British Criterion Collection often helps me celebrate.

So last week I caught Pale Flower, a Japanese noir directed in 1964 by Masahiro Shinoda, and that is probably the bleakest, most nihilistic noir movie I’ve seen in a long time. And it is also beautiful to behold.

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Sword-wielding cats

Some split the world into cat people and dog people, and if such oversimplification are worth anything, then I am a cat person – I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by cats, and find the little killing machines both fascinating and charming. Nothing against dogs, of course, but cats are better, in my opinion.

And cats have a long tradition with fantasy and science fiction writers – authors as different as H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber and Robert A. Heinlein were cat-lovers, and cats have been featured in a number of stories.
Off the top of my head, I tend to remember Greebo, the cat in Terry Pratchett’s Lancre stories, but also Jones, the cat on board of the Nostromo, in the movie Alien. And of course we all know where the Gray Mouser comes from…

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What we learned in Lankhmar and Shadizar (and other places)

About two years back – if memory serves – when a lot of kids started manifesting and asking for better environmental policies and immediate action, someone observed that it wasn’t surprising if a generation that had grown up with fantasy novels in which kids confronted authoritarian governments now wanted to take direct action to right what they perceived as wrongs.

And indeed, I have always said, when talking about the positive effects of roleplaying games, that you can’t spend one afternoon every week, for years, playing a hero, without some of the principles rubbing off on you.
Yes, we’ve all played rogues and adventurers, but in the end we were the good guys and – if the master was worth their keep – we never went off the rails.

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Curses and spells

According to my friend Flavio, writers should learn to place curses on their books, to hit people that would not pay the writer, or copy and distribute illegally their work. Some dark, ancient ritual to summon the Copyright Demon, if you will.

Just like me, Flavio makes his living by writing, and not being paid is a major professional risk for writers, especially hereabouts, especially in these strange times of the COVID.

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Oversleeping and nature books

I’m going through one of my usual rough patches of insomnia – and these days, one doesn’t know anymore if it’s plain vanilla insomnia, or if it’s pandemic-stress-related insomnia, or something else.
Anyway, the end result is that I stay up all night, and then in the morning I feel like a zombie. This morning I went to sleep at 5 am, and woke up at three pm.

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Shoreline of Infinity #19

I am pleased to announce that the next issue of the award-winning magazine Shoreline of Infinity, number 19, will feature a short story of mine (and also an awful lot of other incredible stuff).
The magazine will be out on the 30th of the month, but you can already pre-order it.

My story is a short piece called Singularity, about crocheting and higher dimensions – and I am rather proud of it.

Shoreline of Infinity is a beautiful magazine, and you can get it from their website, both as an ebook or as a gorgeous paperback.
Check it out.