Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Kim Newman on Drachenfels

Curiously enough in the last two nights I suffered from a ferocious attack of insomnia, and so I grabbed the first book on my bedside table and started reading. The book is The Vampire Genevieve omnibus, by Kim Newman writing as Jack Yeovil, to me still the best RPG tie-in book aver, and a great example of horror/sword & sorcery crossover.
The first novel in the omnibus is, of course, Drachenfels.

And here is a lengthy interview with Kim Newman about the novel, and what he was intending to do when he wrote it – the influences, the twists and everything else.
Quite interesting.


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Tudor Ghosts (or maybe worse)

There is no doubt Phil Rickman is currently my favorite horror/thriller author, a title he shares with Peter Straub. I like his language and his style of storytelling, his settings and his characters, his ability in mixing tradition and modernity. His The Man in the Moss is one of my favorite horrors (and I will have to re-read it one of these nights) and I normally keep a few Rickman books in one of my emergency boxes, and when the moon is high and the nights are cold, I happily go looking for one of his chillers.

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The most cynical of anti-romantics

The title is a definition I read somewhere of James Branch Cabell. I have been a fan of J.B. Cabell for over thirty-five years now, thanks to Fritz Leiber. And Cabell is yet another one of those authors that make me say “it would be great to write like he did, but I’d never make it.”

And I have just read a nice piece about Cabell on the DMRBooks Blog and I thought I’d link it here. Deuce Richardson is right when he notes that the younger generations have forgotten Cabell, and what a loss is theirs!

“There were how many dynasties of Pharaohs, each one of whom was absolute lord of the known world, and is to-day forgotten? Among the countless popes who one by one were adored as the regent of Heaven upon earth, how many persons can to-day distinguish? And does not time breed emperors and czars and presidents as plentiful as blackberries, and as little thought of when their season is out? For there is no perpetuity in human endeavor: we strut upon a quicksand: and all that any man may do for good or ill is presently forgotten, because it does not matter.”

James Branch Cabell

And in case you are curious, on The Faded Page you can find free ebooks of four of Cabell’s works, including my own favorite, The High Place, Robert E. Howard’s favorite, Something About Eve, and everybody’s favorite, The Cream of the Jest.


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A magic primer

I have just delivered the last chapter of a big job to the editor, I have spent one hour revising a translation (more work on it tomorrow), and tonight after dinner I will try and write a 1500-words flash-fiction to answer an open call. Maybe.
Maybe I will just go on and follow up on my before-dinner reading.

To celebrate the closing of the big one, I have cracked open a book I have had here for a while, Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate’s The Book of English Magic, that I bought a few months back and has been here tempting me all along.

The volume covers what it says on the tin: magic, as traditionally practiced in England. No Wales, no Scotland.
Only Ye Merrie Englande and its magickal history find a place herein.

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Gene Wolfe, 1931-2019

We have lost Gene Wolfe, the author of The Book of the New Sun and many other masterful novels and short stories. He was 87.
The Book of the New Sun is one of the books that made me what I am, and an endless source of wonder and surprises – I was about to start my re-read, a tradition I have been carrying out every other year for these last ten years.
This time around, it will have a further meaning.

And for the rest of this year 2019, I will do all I can to get the volumes that I still miss to complete my Gene Wolfe collection.
We have lost a master, I have lost a teacher and an inspiration.


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Two hours in another world

A few days back, a contact of mine posted on his Facebook a sign that read “Say no to fantasy”.
I wondered why, but I did not feel like starting a discussion that would be, ultimately, pointless. It’s certainly a fact that a lot of drivel is published in the fantasy genre, but there’s exactly the same amount of drivel published in any other field.
Theodore Sturgeon had something to say about that.

Anyway I’ve just spent two hours reading a beautiful fantasy novella – part of my shopping spree last Christmas. It’s called Thief of War, by Beth Bernobich, an author I had never read before, but that I will certainly read again. Great story, great sense of place, a poignant story without being saccharine. An intriguing world I’ll be happy to explore further in the future.

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Five books that got me started

Over at her place, my friend Jessica Bakkers posted a list of the six books that made her what she is, as a writer. Great idea. It’s fun, it’s easy to put together in the form of a post, and we are always ready to learn more about the writers we follow, and maybe find out a few new books to read.
So, why not steal Jessica’s idea?

Now, I actually already did something similar, a while back, listing the authors that had most influenced me. The ones I wish I was as good as. A shortened list, one that I could (and maybe will) expand.
But let’s look at this thing from another angle.

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