Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Hits and Misses

I’ve spent the last two days working in the morning (I’ve got a translation to deliver, and that’s overdue) and watching TV series in the afternoon, while nursing a bad case of cold.
I’ve also been writing, but not as much as I’d have liked. But I consider myself on vacation until the 6th of the month, and I’ll be recharging my batteries and feeding my idea box with stories.

I’ve been watching two old TV series – one old, the other very old – and two pretty new ones.
So here’s some quick notes.

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Dreaming up a new series (because rust never sleeps)

I was talking with some friends, a few days ago, of how much The Avengers (the British TV series, not the guys in spandex from Marvel) had an impact on my life. It was the vision of the classic Steed & Peel seasons back when I was around 8 that made me a committed Anglophile for life – and so everything, from my desire to learn English to my spending one year in London as a student, stems from there.

My interest for spy stories and a certain brand of strange, surreal adventure certainly owes a lot to The Avengers (and to The Prisoner).
I believe my attitude towards women was shaped (also) by an early crush on Mrs Peel, and if I keep writing stories about couples bickering, chattering and working together as partners in crime, it is certainly because of The Avengers.

Here I should note that when I was a kid we did get an awful lot of British TV series, and those shaped my tastes and left a huge impression: The Avengers, The Prisoner, The Persuaders, UFO, Space 1999, Children of the Stones…
It was good being kids back then, and a lot of the imagination sparked by those shows filtered somehow in what I write.

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The '20s – building a reading list

I need your help to build a reading list of history books about the 1920s.
Now, let me explain…
I was told, back when I was in the Air Farce, that we cannot learn anything from history, and that history is just a collection of facts put together by the victors, and has no value.
I do not think so. I did not think so back then, and I do not think so now.

I have been joking about the fact that in a few days the ’20s will be here again: flappers, charleston & foxtrot, and adventure await…
That’s what we normally associate to the ’20s – The Great Gatsby and all that.
But the ’20s also saw the rise of populism and totalitarianism (read the news, recently?), social and financial crisis and the headlong rush towards yet another war.

So I decided I’ll put together a reading list about the 1920s, to see if something can be learned from history, and to be prepared – and what the heck, it could always serve as research for future stories.

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Michael Moorcock at 80

Today is the 80th birthday of British writer Michael Moorcock, and it seems right to write a post about him and his books and the pleasure, insight and fun, and inspiration they have provided me these last 40 years.
This will not be a critical assessment or whatever, but just a personal patchwork of strange memories. I’ll also list a few of my favorite books of his, but no more than a dozen.

Let’s begin.

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What, no RPGs for Christmas?

It’s been pointed out that my list of Christmas gifts for the masses was fearfully lacking in the Roleplaying Games department. To set that straight, I’ll post here three suggestions for the roleplayer that has everything.
Because what’s better than spending Christmas day reading a new RPG handbook?
Here goes…

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A turn of the cards

I spent some time this afternoon discussing tarot decks with a friend – my collection never took off the ground (I have half a dozen decks, nothing to write home about), but I still keep an eye out for new designs and classic reprints, and so we talked, and traded suggestions.

I often say that my definitive Plan B, should everything else fail, would be to find a corner table in a pub and do tarot readings. Indeed, it’s two years now that I say I’ll go and sit at the local pub, down in Nizza, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, order a drink and a sandwich, and start playing with my tarot – I’m pretty sure it would attract some curious parties.
And I could tip the waitresses for them to send people my way.
I say this only half-jokingly – my rationale is, if there’s people that could not write their way out of a paper bag that hold courses about writing, then what the hell, I can read tarot.

After all, I read the handbooks, I followed a few online courses, and it’s been now over thirty years I’ve been reading the cards for fun (but not, alas, for profit).

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