Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Salvaging water-damaged books

Two weeks after spending a weekend in fear of the river coming here and soaking all my books, I received a second-hand volume I had ordered a while back, and it turned out to be water-damaged – and not “very fine” as the vendor claimed. The pages are warped and some of them are sticking together.
Oh, drat.

The book is only a reading copy, sure, so the warped pages are not a real problem. But this being a photo book, the pages sticking together are a real problems.

So I started looking around, and found out that the best way for un-sticking the pages is to steam them, and then use a very thin and rigid object – say a sheet of plastic file cover or such – and push it gently between the pages.
Which is what I will try and do, hoping not to cause more damage.

As for the book, I’m quite eager to be able to read it properly – it is called Ghosts, by Sian Evans, and it was published by the British National Trust. It is a collection of haunted places, with beautiful black and white photographs, and reports from national Trust employees about their experiences in the places themselves.
Perfect Christmas-time reading.


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Christmas, sooner than expected

Back in the heyday of my blogging, I did a review of a Kim Stanley Robinson story called The Lucky Strike – a classic what-if alternate history that imagined a different development of the bombing of Hiroshima.
A good story, with a strong anti-war theme and message.
Some comments on my Italian blog were scathing, to say the least: war is good, bombing Hiroshima was a great idea, thing could never have worked any other way, who’s this Kim Stanley Robinson chap anyway?

It was very instructive.

The story The Lucky Strike was published in a small volume with a dark red back, in a series called Outspoken Authors. The volume included not just the story, but also extra material, an interview with the author and more.
I said to myself I’d have to check out more books in that series.

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Hamlet, James Bond and Rick Blaine

A new book in my ever-growing collection of volumes about writing, Hamlet’s Hit Points is somewhat different, because it is a book at least nominally aimed at game masters willing to improve the structure of their roleplaying scenarios, upping their game. But in laying down the foundations of a system to structurally map stories, Robin D. Laws manages to create a tool that works for games, for fiction and for movies/screenplays.

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Looking out for a Hero

My Patreon supporters are awesome – but you already knew about that. And because they are awesome, I received as a gift a copy of Lee Child’s new ebook, The Hero, about 48 hours after I became aware of its existence, and I signalled my interest.
That’s how great they are.

I have read a few of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, and found them fun, over the top, entertaining and diverting, and more than competently written. Can’t say I’m a fan of the character, but I have read a few interviews to the author, and I like his approach to writing. Also, he started writing when he lost his “true job”, and I can relate to that.
The idea of an essay, written by Child and called The Hero really sounded like the sort of thing I wanted to read, despite a fair number of very negative reviews I saw on Amazon.
And so I read it.

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Hellebore

What was I saying about horror?
Because, you see, the postman just delivered my copy of the first issue of Hellebore magazine, and I am revising today’s schedule because I want to dive in straight away. But while my tea is brewing, I may as well give you a quick overview of this new fine mag.

Hellebore is a “limited-run magazine” devoted to the scholarly study of folk horror. For the uninitiated folk horror is that preeminently British sub-genre of horror fiction that uses folk traditions as its main source of inspiration: think about movies like The Wicker Man (the old one, not the one with Nick Cage) or Blood on Satan’s Claw. The genre had its heyday in the mid ’70s, but has been going through a revival in the last few years.

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Ancient incarnations of death

Like that guy said, never say never.
Or “not often.”
I was talking with a friend, about four weeks ago – she does not like horror fiction, she’d rather read historical fiction, and I said that these days I don’t read or write that much horror anymore.
And as a result, most of what I submitted in the last four weeks, and most of what I read, falls one way or another in the field of horror.

The last two books I read, in fact, have been two excellent horrors, both dealing – in a very different way – with the urban manifestation of ancient spirits of death.
They are both worth checking out, and as I have already mentioned Gemma Files’ Experimental Film, here’s my review of the other, Robert Levy’s Anais Nin and the Grand Guignol.

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Folk horror and movies

As I nurse the worse cold in ages, there’s little I can do but write. I’ve a lot of things to write, but luckily all the urgent work was done before my ill-advised decision to go and attend Libri in Nizza. So I am taking a brief pause from my writing, and I’m catching up on my to-read list.

I’ve just started and finished in two days flat Gemma Files’ novel, Experimental Film, that I was given as a gift a few days back, and boy, was it a brilliant book!

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