Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Henry Rider Haggard’s Cleopatra

and_image_1366916320And talking about historical novels, Egypt and all this sort of stuff…
Henry Rider Haggard, author of King Solomon’s Mines and She, two books that are highly regarded here on Karavansara, also wrote a book called Cleopatra, published in 1889.

Now, it is sometimes an overlooked fact that Rider Haggard wrote a huge number of books (56 novels, 3 collections of stories and 10 non-fiction books), and while he is still best remembered for his Quatermain-Ayesha novels, but his catalog includes al sort of historical and exotic adventure.
And most if not all of it is available for free online.

But about Cleopatra, now… Continue reading

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Cursed by the pharaohs

md22104412845I tried.
No really, I tried.
I took the afternoon off, a nice bowl of tea, and I attacked Curse of the Pharaohs, the book about Tutankhamen’s curse I had found at a free giveaway a few months back – you’ll remember I posted about it.

Considering I am currently sketching an Egypt-related project – plus of course the Aculeo & Amunet and Contubernium stories, and the idea of re-playing Masks of Nyarlathotep… all this considered, a nice afternoon reading about Egyptian curses looked like a nice way to have fun and do research at the same time.

But what the heck… Continue reading


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Nyarlathotep, probably

Masks_of_Nyarlathotep_(3rd_Edition)I mentioned Masks of Nyarlathotep a few days back, talking about the Pulp Cthulhu handbook.
Now, for the uninitiated, Mask of Nyarlathotep is probably the War & Peace of Call of Cthulhu, if not of the whole horror gaming genre.
Granted, Beyond the Mountains of Madness is bigger, and Horror on the Orient Express is probably creepier, but for globe-trotting variety, implied menace, cast of characters and locations, plot intricacies and sheer gaming goodness, Mask of Nyarlathotep remains a classic, sort of the standard against which Call of Cthulhu scenarios are evaluated. Continue reading


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Shanghai Under Fire

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The snippet above is the opening of Shanghai Under Fire: July 1937 – March 1938, a 120-pages book published by the Shanghai Evening Post and Mercury that provides a day-by-day breakdown of what came to be known as The Battle of Shanghai.

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You can find relatively cheap reprints on Amazon, or a digitized copy in the Internet Archive, which is the one I am using right now. Continue reading


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Pulp Cthulhu

Pulp Cthulhu – where has this thing been all my life?

51w9H3aTqiL._AC_UL320_SR244,320_Now, the answer is simple – it was in a folder filled with notes on my gaming table, sitting underneath my copy of Call of Cthulhu, 3th edition.
Meaning, we always played Call of Cthulhu as a pulp game.
I played with other keepers, that were more “lovecraftian”, or maybe just more depressed, or more sadistic – in the end, adventures lost their meaning as character after character died horribly and in the end nothing hung together anymore.

Boring.

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Back to the Dead Lizards

explorer pulpQueen of the Dead Lizards, featured in Pro Se’s Explorer Pulp was the first story I ever pitched to a foreign (to me) publisher.
I had a few articles and game scenarios under my belt, and I had a few English-language stories self-published through Amazon, but pitching a story to a proper publisher?
It was the first.
I did not believe they’d like the pitch, but they did – you really never can tell.
So, when I started working on it, I did myself a crash course in adventure pulp – just to be on the safe side.

TheFireOfAsshurbanipalGregStaples565BI re-read Howard’s Fire of Ashurbanipal and a selection of his El Borak stories.
I dug out two issues of the reprints of Oriental Stories.
I tried to get in tune with the language, the rhythm – I don’t know if I managed to acquire anything of that, but it was an important crutch for my morale.
And then I kept Languages of the Silk Road by Lonely Planet, and Odyssey Books The Silk Road by my side for reference.
Yes, I was scared. But then I got to work… Continue reading