Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Question: where do you get your ideas? Answer:

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Two relics from a forgotten era

Pulp_Cthulhu_Cover_for_Adcopy__99219.1464808396.500.659Today I’ve been lucky – a friend sent me two games that I was missing from my collection.
In the last few years I started collecting roleplaying games with a pulp theme. Now, the definition is pretty loose – after all, a game set in Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian age would be technically pulp, because Conan debuted on a pulp magazine. The same goes obviously for Call of Cthulhu (that now has its own “pulp” subset of rules), considering Lovecraft’s presence in the pulps. And of course, a Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers influenced game like Slipstream would also be “pulp* in theme if not in substance.

So, to clarify the classification, I am collecting roleplaying games, and in particular those that are either inspired by pulp authors (like the Conan roleplaying games) or properties (like the old Masterbook Indiana Jones game), and those that are designed to play in a pulp universe, a pulp version of the 1920s and 1930s. Continue reading


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Twenty-one years without Emily Hahn

Writer, journalist, earth scientist, world traveler, opium smoker, primates expert, the self-proclaimed “bad girl” that started her autobiography with the phrase…

Not long after my family moved from St Louis to Chicago, I ran away from home.

… died on this day in 1997.

emily hahn

One of my projects for this year (and maybe the next two) is to read every one of Emily Hahn’s 50-odd books.


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The Amazon Queen and misplaced nostalgia

Flight_of_the_Amazon_Queen_box_artI think I got a handle on this whole nostalgia thing that’s going at the moment.
You see, a few nights ago I was going through one of my usual bouts of insomnia, and so I decided to waste my time playing Flight of the Amazon Queen.

In case you missed it, it’s an old point-and-click game that was released in 1995 for the Amiga and MS-DOS systems, and it’s been going around as a free game forever.
In the game you play Joe King, a bush pilot that in 1949 is chartered to fly a movie star to the Amazon jungle for a publicity shoot, but crash lands in the middle of nowhere instead.
Featuring a mad scientist called Frank Ironstein that plans to conquer the world with an army of dinosaur women, Flight of the Amazon Queen is a game in the same style of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and The Secret of Monkey Island.
And I found it as boring as hell. Continue reading


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Stargate Origins looks good

Granted, I only saw about half an hour of it (is being released in ten 10-minutes webisodes), but the set-up is quite good: set in 1938, it features the first activation of the Stargate, Nazis, the Goa’uld as sinister as ever, and a good heroine.

Production values are quite good for such a small-scale project, and with the exception of a pair of long shots that look as fake as pantomime backgrounds, the whole thing looks like they made the most with what they had in terms of funds.
Hopefully they also put down a few bucks on the screenwriting side of the project.

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All in all, this looks like a fun way to spend a few minutes once in a while –
and sure it would be great should it signal a return of the franchise. Now I’m really curious to see how things will develop (even if, given the set-up, at least some developments are predictable).


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In Egypt with Sax Rohmer

saxrohmer1Let’s kill two birds with a stone: today’s the birthday of Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward, better known to the world at large by his pen name Sax Rohmer – the man who created the original Yellow Peril, Dr Fu Manchu.
A lower-class child that started a career as a civil servant before he turned to writing for a living and claimed to be part of the Order of the Golden Dawn, Rohmer would be 135 today.

His most famous creation, Dr Fu Manchu, first appeared in The Mystery of Dr Fu Manchu, as a serial, in 1912. Two other novels followed,and then the character went on hiatus for about fifteen years, only to return with The Daughter of Fu Manchu in 1928. Continue reading