East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Missing the Suez canal

Busy day – I got a rejection slip, I submitted a new story to a magazine, I wrote 2000 words of the forthcoming Hope & Glory handbook, and I cooked some top-notch tuna and tomato pasta for lunch.
And just as I was having lunch, I realized I had completely forgotten about the Suez Canal.

suez_canal_drawing_1881Let me explain – in Hope & Glory, after a catastrophe cripples the European Continent, a fleet carrying British refugees sails towards India.
The plan is to split the fleet in two – an as the bulk of the fleet circumnavigates Africa, braving the freak storms and the dangers of the long trip, a smaller fleet, carrying Queen Victoria and a number of VIPs, cuts through Gibraltar and Suez and reaches India through the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Nice and smooth.

Pity all this is happening in 1855, and as Wikipedia promptly reminds me, the Suez Canal…

… was constructed by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869. After 10 years of construction, it was officially opened on November 17, 1869.

This is the sort of embarrassing thing that will have to be swept under the carpet when reviews will appear praising “the research and historical detail” of Hope & Glory, but right now it’s quite fun, because it forced me to rethink a small piece of the background, and in the end the whole turned out to be much better than it was before.
I was able to add drama, build a little on the mystique about the origins of the Anglo-Indian Raj in my setting, and I also had the opportunity to kill off Prince Albert.
Which is sad, because the guy was all right, I guess, but I needed Victoria to be a widow upon arriving in India.

And I like very much the way in which the setting is mutating under my hands as I write chapter after chapter. Leaving my options open and improvising the details make the whole thing fun, and the setting is much more alive.
And it’s not as time consuming as it might seem.



b332c24b69f3e33711f9475fd148e953I was taught to be grateful for the small things.
Today was a bad day – bad news, discussions, a tonne of bills to pay, the loss of a pair of paying markets, some gratuitous aggression, dark clouds on the horizon.
Which is nothing special, mind you – there’s a lot of people out there that’s in much worse trouble. But it is heavy, because you see everything unravel and it’s beyond your control. It makes working harder, it makes writing harder, because too many preoccupations clog your mind.
And if I don’t write, the light gets cut, the water and the phone get cut.

But then three things happened that let the pressure up a bit – not solutions to the problems, but small good things, unexpected. Psychological relief – which means that the problems remain, but now one can try and solve them, and if nothing comes out of it, one’ll be at peace, because one did what one could.
Small things to let one feel less into a dead end.

First, I got a copy of a book in the mail that I’ve been waiting to read for a long time, and tonight I’ll dig into it, and tomorrow I’ll post about it.
Second, I was reminded of a movie which I saw when I was a little kid, when my mom and dad were still alive and took me to the movies, and will do a post about that too.
And finally I saw this, and I’ll start by sharing it with you.

Hold on out there.
Things will get better.

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Waiting for KaravanCast: Beyond Thirty

thelostcontinentedgarriceburroughs565I just got an idea that… who knows?
I’m setting up the next episode of the KaravanCast, and for a number of reasons (see below), I decided to go and take a look at one of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “lesser” books: Beyond Thirty, also known as The Lost Continent.
Now, the book is in the public domain, and so I thought you might like to check it out beforehand, so that when (if?) you listen to my podcast, you have a better idea of what I’m talking about.

You can get the novel in various ebook formats from Project Gutenberg, or an audio version from LibriVox.

As for the reasons why I’m covering this less-known work by Burroughs… Continue reading


Hope & Glory: Glass Houses

I’m very proud to announce that Glass Houses, the first novella set in the Hope & Glory game setting, is finally available via Amazon, RPGNow and DriveThruRPG, in a variety of digital formats.

It’s been a long road, and it is good to finally see this first title out. And I owe a big Thank You! and a colossal, collective slap on the back to all the people that worked on this project.
More books will follow.


Glass Houses is a steampulp tale set in an India that never was – it is plain old fashioned science-fictional intrigue, and was designed as a stand-alone story for everyone, gamers and non-gamers.

To learn more about Hope & GloryContinue reading


Kalaripayattu: the oldest martial art

Did I ever tell you that reality surpasses fiction nine times out of ten?
Sure I did.
So now I’m finally pushing the pedal to the metal for the Hope & Glory roleplaying game handbook, and it is my habit, having built the general structure of the book, I’m doing some spot-on research to deepen the background and add some vivid, fun and unexpected detail.
And last night (insomnia, remember?) I was checking a few facts and trying something different for the characters in the game to do.
Hope & Glory started its existence as a steampunk setting but has developed in various extra directions, incorporating scientific romance, lost world novels, pulp and adventure stories, and even part of what those pesky kids call decopunk. And in the first handbook it will have a strong Indian flavor.
So I told myself – why not Indian martial arts?


And it was so that I discovered Kalaripayattu – a martial art that in my eye surpasses fictional analogs hands down. Continue reading