Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

Weird in Manila: Trese (2021)

I went into Trese, the new animated series from Nettflix, practically blind. OK, a paranormal detective story set in contemporary Manila and based on the folklore of the Philippines. But that was all.
I had seen the trailer, and I was intrigued.

I was a bit dubious because it is presented as an “anime”, but it is not a Japanese product, it was made in the Philippines. You don’t call it New Orleans Jazz if they make in in Sweden, don’t you?
Wikipedia adjusts this by describing the series as “anime-inspired”. OK.
But apart from that, I was curious.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

A (Mary) Gentle thing: The logistics of Carthage

Rats and Gargoyles by Mary Gentle, is one of my favorite novels of all time, and Mary Gentle has always been on the list of authors from whom I hope, one day, to learn something.
What I find particularly appealing about Gentle’s work is the idea that the reader should do their job: think, connect the dots, fill in the blanks. This is part of what makes the Gentle so “difficult” but also, I believe, so rewarding for those who have the courage to face the reading.

In the past few days I received as a gift a copy of Cartomancy, the volume that brings together all the short fiction by the author (excluding the stories of the White Crow series, which are found in a separate volume). It is one of the many collections of short stories that came to me for my birthday – and I thought … why not do a series of posts, a piece on each short story?
And why not start with the stories in Cartomancy?

(also, this is a the first in a series of posts that I will do on my Patreon, both in Italian and English – this one is freely available here too, and on my Patreon page)

Let’s try.

Continue reading


2 Comments

The rule of cool is not enough

I did not want to write this post.
No, really!
I have better things to do and barely the energy to do them, why then…?
Ah!
Let me get this from the start…

I have watched Army of the Dead.
It’s currently on Netflix, and the whole world and their sister watched it – Zack Snyder’s own take on the zombie apocalypse, featuring David Bautista, and poised to become the start of a new cinematic universe.
An action-adventure movie, more than a horror – that’s what I was expecting, and I was cool with that.
I like action-adventure movies.
And believe me, my expectations were really low.

It was a joyless experience, as somebody already said.
One that made me re-evaluate a lot of other movies – compared to this, the silly fluff of Monster Hunter feels like John Milius working on a script from Karl Edward Wagner.

And I am sure you’ve read the reviews – both those that praise Snyder as god’s gift to the filmic arts, and those that say this is a load of rubbish wrapped in an out-of-focus aesthetic and spiked with dubious morality.
And I stand firmly in the second camp, and yet…

Continue reading


Leave a comment

How I spent my Workers’ Day

Working on a ghostwriting gig is great because it pays the bills, and because it gives me the opportunity to discover, explore and write stuff I would not normally have in my life – business, current affairs, other people’s lives.
It’s a great source of inspiration.
It is also a soul-killing experience, most of the time, because it means working for a boss, and a boss that usually hires a professional to do a certain job, but basically believes they know a lot more about the job at hand that the professional they have hired to do it. The result is, they do not respect the process.
Because they do not know there is a process.
They have this romantic idea of writing, that’s something that comes to you and possesses you like an ancient ghost, and they are quite sure they are the ones possessed … because it’s their book, right?
You are just a hired hand.
It can get tiresome.

But because I was thinking about these things, instead of spending my May Day weekend writing writing writing, I spent some time reading about writing process and writing structure. The fact that I was trying to put some order in my library, tackling the writing shelf, also helped.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

In my previous life

I was on my friend’s G. Facebook profile, a moment ago, and she was posting some old photos of her on some coral reef somewhere, surrounded by brightly colored fish, and diving alongside a shark, and other adventurous things like that, because she’s always been an adventurous woman, and she described these pictures as

memories from another life

And that gave me a strange shiver.
We’ve been knowing each other for something like forty years, and we’ve been in and out of each other’s life, maybe not always there but somehow never gone… what was I doing while my adventurous friend was diving in some hot tropical ocean, I wondered?
Where was I?
What have I to show of my previous lives?
Are they any different from the current one?
Where are my adventures?

Continue reading