Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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A tour on the Minibus

As expected, the night spent reading Chris Fowler’s book about forgotten writers has started wreaking havoc with my reading plans, or at least with my to-read pile of books and ebooks.

Having read Fowler’s fun collection of short bios, I found it to be excuse enough to finally go and check out a writer that’s been on my radars for years now, but I never found the time, or motivation, or that extra bit of curiosity that would make me go and spend money and time on one of her books.

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Gone but not forgotten: Christopher Fowler's The Book of Forgotten Authors

When was the last time that, against all good sense and sanity, you spent a whole night up to read a new book from cover to cover? Wrapped in a blanket, drinking hot tea, while the countryside outside was silent and mist-shrouded under the moon, it happened to me last night, and I am now typing this before I crawl in bed, my day’s schedule completely scrambled, but who cares.

Yesterday (my goodness, it was only yesterday!) I received as a gift an ebook copy of Christopher Fowler’s The Book of Forgotten Authors, and as it usually happens, I checked the first pages, just to see how it felt. I was preparing dinner, and I was in fact putting the soup up on the stove.
I went through the foreword, and them, after dinner, I said to myself I’d check a few pages.
And now here I am, bleary-eyed, the book finished, and the certain knowledge that it will have a terrible influence on my 2020.

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Vampirella: Blood Invasion – a short review

I mentioned it yesterday, and I read it last night and today as I sat around a doctor’s waiting room – Vampirella: Blood Invasion, the first Vampirella novel, written by Nancy A. Collins and published by the fiction branch of Dynamite publishing is a very fast read, and a fun one.

For the uninitiated, Vampirella is a character created fifty years ago as a host for a series of anthology magazines, that later evolved into an indie comic-book character in her own right, with her own universe, recurring characters, timeline and everything.
Often dismissed as a vampiric rip-off of Barbarella, and criticized by its open sexiness, the raven-haired and very scantly clad vampiress is a lot more than just a pin-up. She has in fact quite a nice track record, as comics characters go, with some great story arcs through the decades, and some excellent art and writing by some of the industry’s best names.

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The first book of 2020

Last night I splurged 8 of my hard-earned dollars to acquire the first two tiers of the latest Humble Bundle, called 2020 New year, New You – a grab bag of titles on a variety of topics, good as fuel for new year’s personal resolutions – self-help books (from time saving to meditation to retirement plans) and cookbooks (a book of slow cooker recipes!), writing handbooks and a thesaurus, books about bucket lists and other wonders. These sort of bundles usually capture my fancy, because they feel like going through a bookstore filling a basket with stuff that makes me go “wow, that’s interesting!”
My 8 bucks contributed to help a charity (in this case, Every Child a Reader), and bought me 16 very different books.
I was particularly interested in the cookbooks, in the memoir by a former undercover detective, and in the writing handbooks.
The first I started was therefore David Morrell’s The Successful Novelist.

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The first writer that really scared me: Algernon Blackwood

Some things stick in our minds for decades.
I was eleven years old or thereabouts when I got my copy of the Italian version of Alfred Hitchcock’s Ghost Gallery, a collection of horror stories (not all of them dealing with ghosts) aimed at a younger audience. Having been raised on Scooby Doo, and an avid reader of The Three Investigators, the idea of a collection of ghost stories was pretty exciting – and I got the book for Christmas that year. It was 1978.

Now this was a case of wrong expectations – the spooky stories in the book were none like Scooby Doo or the Three Investigators, and if a couple were quite humorous, like the three entries from Robert Arthur, none of these stories had the rational solution and the real culprit behind the haunting being shown for a very human bad guy.
This was, probably for the first time in my life, the Real Thing.
These were scary stories.

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Quiet, rest and some Flat Earth

It’s the 23rd of December.
I have mailed my latest novella to my Patrons, and sent an ebook to a friend as a better substitute for a greeting card. The pantry is stocked, the menus decided for the next days. All the bills have been paid (well, OK, most of them), and there’s money (not much) in the bank. I’ve even bought a sack of treats for the feral cats that will come and sleep in the big box we’ve placed outside.
Now I can sit back and relax for a few days.
Read a good book, or three.

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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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