Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Getting ready for 2022 (if possible)

So, it’s the end of the year.
Today we celebrate St David, so I’ll have a bit of a celebration, here alone in the fog-shrouded countryside, and then I’ll take a while off.

I will take this time to r4echarge my batteries before I dive into my writing work again in January, and I will also put the finishing touches on my silly projects (aka “good propositions”) for 2022.

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The last book of the year

I should be writing, but I am reading instead. It’s very cold, the countryside is still and dreary, and I need to recharge my batteries. I have stories to write, stories to translate, work on two games over which the deadline looms closer and closer. But like I always do, like I have been doing ever since I was eight, I got a new book for Christmas, and I am reading it.

The book is Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950-1980, and it is a multi-faceted, in-depth survey of what I grew up calling “New Wave”.

Edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre, this is part of a series, and I should get the other two books – about counterculture and youth culture in pulp and popular fiction respectively.

It will be a while, I am afraid, because as I have explained elsewhere, one of my good propositions for 2022 is to stop buying books until I’ll have been through a substantial part of my ever-growing TBR.
I will also cut all unnecessary expenditures, in an experiment whose purpose is trying to stop compulsive (and meaningless) buying.

This sounds a lot more radical and political than it really is, and goes well with the book I am reading – because here we have the highs and lows of the revolution, the Swinging London of Michael Moorcock and the savage fury of authors like Ellison, Disch, Farmer.

The volume is a collection of monographic articles, nicely illustrated with covers from the books of the time. For someone like me, that grew up reading SF in the late ’70s and through the ’80s, this is like browsing an old school yearbook, and catching photographs of old friends.

It is also a dire menace to my promise of not buying books in 2022 – because a lot of the titles discussed I read, but a lot I only know through word of mouth, and now, after seeing them so intelligently analyzed, I want to read them.


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52 Books

So, here is an idea.
I have put together a list of 52 books.
Of these 49 I have here, either on my shelf or on my e-reader. The other three I’ll get as soon as possible (one comes out in April, I’ve pre-ordered it already).
So the idea was – I can read (and in a couple of cases, re-read) one per week, and then do a post. The list is pretty eclectic – it features novels and short story collections, a couple of comic books, a lot of non-fiction (science and nature, history, politics & economy).
Some books are well known, a lot of others are not so widely popular.

I thought about doing this as a podcast but came to the conclusion that
a . I hate my voice
b . I don’t like talking to myself
c . writing is faster

Also, yes – d . a blog post is cost-free, while a podcast archiving space costs money.

I would add that at this moment my desire to communicate with the people out here is VERY close to zero, so I am thinking about doing this for my Patrons, but I will also devise a way to post out here too – without short-charging my supporters. I have an idea already.

So, what do you say?


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The Red & the Black – a movie night

Two nights ago I was feeling like some light entertainment, and so I scanned the list of the available movie on my streaming platforms. Because when you live in the sticks, streaming platforms are a life-saver.

And of course I set my sights on Netflix’s feature film, Red Notice – an action comedy caper featuring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds? That’s just what the doctor ordered after a long day writing and trying to put some order in my affairs.
So I got me a full teapot and my cat (yes, babies, this is as middle-aged as the Magna Charta) and I started the film.

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Supernatural, Space, Gothic and more

You know that story about the guy that manages to kick a nasty (and expensive!) habit, only to relapse and fall even deeper into his old ways?
There have been books written on this story, and films made. Some very good, some pretty sucky.

For me, it all started with the Numenera 2 Bundle of Holding I mentioned a few weeks back. You know me – a great game, a ton of handbooks, and I help a charity… I can’t resist this sort of offer.

And Numenera is an excellent game, and with a system I liked a lot – even though I should not, because it’s very modern and freeform, and I am old and grew up with Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest and the Basic Roleplaying System.
But really, the Cypher System that is at the core of the Numenera RPG ticked all the right boxes with me. So much so that I thought… hey, there’s a generic, universal implementation of this game. Why don’t I give it a look?

Short sad story: the hardback Cypher System handbook, second edition, goes for about 100 bucks, if you can still find a copy. That’s brutal.

But then, Black Friday came…

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Not just senior citizens – more adventures in radio

So I went and bought a small multiband radio to replace the one that Panthayra destroyed. After a little research (about which, more to come), I settled on the RETEKESS V115 – and the decision was due to my limited budget, the videos and websites I had checked out, and a hefty discount from Amazon. And here is a publicity shot of the radio in all its glory, complete with a senior citizen because we have learned that only people of a certain age need radios these days.

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Steampunk shenanigans: Arcane (2021)

I have never played League of Legends, and I have no idea what it’s all about. I have seen a lot of game artwork around, and I have been duly impressed by the look of the thing, but I am not that much of a gamer anymore – if I ever was. On the other hand, I am a sucker for good animation, and for steampunk, so when the trailer of Arcane, the new Netflix series, was posted, it got my attention.

Now the first three episodes are here – and clocking at 40 minutes each, they are just what the doctor ordered for a break and a cup of tea between writing sessions.
And I am duly impressed.

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