Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Silverado (1985)

My late father loved westerns and war movies. He’d re-watch Shane (Alan Ladd was his favorite actor) or From Here to Eternity whenever he had the opportunity, often providing a running commentary for the annoyance of anyone sitting there with him.
You know, the classic “Oh, and now watch what’s coming up…”

Growing old, I find there’s movies I re-watch in the same almost-compulsive way – but mine tend to be adventure movies (Romancing the Stone), spy thrillers (IPCRESS), comedies (Animal House), fantasies (Dragonslayer, or Ladyhawke)… but there is one western I’ll always re-watch with great pleasure. It’s not one of my dad’s faves, but it’s a western that hit the theatres when I was 18. It’s called Silverado, and I re-watched it last night.

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Down yet another rabbit-hole

Two nights ago I read in a single sitting a book that’s been on my to-read list for over 20 years, and that for various reasons I always left behind when going to the bookstore. It is called Il Cammello Battriano (The Bactrian Camel), and was written by Italian journalist Stefano Malatesta.
It is the chronicle of a fascination for the Silk Road, and of a trip along the road in the company of old books by and about explorers and adventurers and what not. I guess you can see why I liked it.

It is a very thin book (160 pages) which explains why it became a bestseller – and by this I do not mean to shortcharge mister Malatesta, who is a fine writer that spins an excellent yarn, but for a fact the Italian Top Ten book list used to host books under the 200-pages (names like Baricco or Tamaro come to mind).

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Back to the Hollow Earth

I mentioned how this whole lockdown thing has not impacted dramatically my lifestyle – I can be worried about my income as projects are fizzing out and it looks like we’ll have a long dry summer and a cold winter, but my day-to-day routine and my general activities are the same as they have been since 2013.

Case in point: roleplaying games.
I have been playing with a regular team since the early ’90s, and when I moved to the countryside, 80 miles from our gaming table, I moved my games online. At the time I was still accessing the web via my coal-powered, copper-cable system, and the games where a chore. Paradoxically, when I finally landed a good, stable, high-volume connection, my old team fizzed out, and I remained player-less.

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Along the Silk Road on a Rolls-Royce

There’s a story of mine, called Queen of the Dead Lizards (you can find it in Pro Se Press’ Explorer Pulp, together with three other fine stories by three excellent authors). I will not spoil the story for those of you who might like to check it out, but let’s say that part of the action in Queen of the Dead Lizards hinges on a trip along the Silk Road on a Rolls-Royce … an accident in the real life of the last Khan of Bukhara.
And what can I say – it felt like a good idea at the time.
But through one of those curious series of connections that come up during rambling conversations, I just stumbled on another Rolls Royce ride across the steppes of Central Asia, in a book by an author that’s not often remembered today, and that’s a pity.
So, let me take a rather circuitous route here…

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Fantasy AGE for free

I mentioned Chris Pramas’ Fantasy AGE roleplaying game in a post a few days back – and now you can get a copy of the Basic Rulebook in PDF for free from the Green Ronin website, as a special offer in these days of quarantine.
The Basic Rulebook is all you need to play one of the best fantasy roleplaying systems I’ve seen in recent times.
Check it out.


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Volcano Goddesses, Golden Dawns and Sorcerer Popes

It’s Sunday, the countryside is silent and dreary, yesterday people in decontamination suits walked the streets of our village decontaminating the area – a scene out of too many SF/horror movies – and today I decided I’ll be lazy, recharge my batteries and go through a collection of Athena Voltaire comics a friend sent me – I’ve been through Athena Voltaire and the Volcano Goddess this morning, I’ll devote the afternoon to Athena Voltaire and the Sorcerer Pope, leaving Athena Voltaire and the Golden Dawn for the evening
Because I meed a little of high-octane pulp adventure in my life.

And here’s a gallery of covers, for your entertainment (If you’ve not read the Athena Voltaire comics… you should)