East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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80 years with and without Lovecraft

Today is the 80th anniversary of H.P. Lovecraft’s death.
I think I read all of the Gentleman’s stories, multiple times, and I liked them quite a bit.
I discovered HPL in high school, when I was reading all the fantasy and SF and horror (but not much horror) I could lay my hands on. Then I re-read it while in university, back when all of a sudden HPL was starting to make the news, to be critically appreciated. And I still read some of his better stories now and then, for nostalgia’s sake.
Now, according to a sort of scientific study I did with my old friend Fabrizio, the Lovecraftian reader’s evolution goes through three phases: Continue reading


A Café on the Nile

Now there’s some people we trust instinctively, on some matters.
For instance, if Jim Cornelius over at Frontier Partisans suggests a book, I go and check it out, and put it on my wishlist.
Because, instinct. And trust.
That’s exactly what I did when Jim mentioned Bartle Bull’s A Café on the Nile: the book sounded intriguing, the cover was gorgeous, and I checked out on Amazon and found a very used copy for about a buck.
And it was the best investment of a buck this years.
So I thought I’ll tell you about it… Continue reading

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Reading “Radio Girls”

As I mentioned the other day, I am reading a good book, and good books are a (relatively) cheap gateway to escape dread and depression.
And to learn new things.
The novel I am reading is Radio Girls, by Sarah-Jane Stratford.


Set between 1926 and 1930, Radio Girls is the story of Maisie Musgrave, a Canadian anglophile that is hired as a secretary for the newly created British Broadcasting Company (later Corporation), and becomes a witness in the early development of what is going to be called “talk radio”.
But hidden beneath the comedy and the mystery plot of the novel, is a well-researched story – the story of Hattie Matheson, the first director of the “talk” department of the BBC. Continue reading


Waiting for KaravanCast: Beyond Thirty

thelostcontinentedgarriceburroughs565I just got an idea that… who knows?
I’m setting up the next episode of the KaravanCast, and for a number of reasons (see below), I decided to go and take a look at one of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “lesser” books: Beyond Thirty, also known as The Lost Continent.
Now, the book is in the public domain, and so I thought you might like to check it out beforehand, so that when (if?) you listen to my podcast, you have a better idea of what I’m talking about.

You can get the novel in various ebook formats from Project Gutenberg, or an audio version from LibriVox.

As for the reasons why I’m covering this less-known work by Burroughs… Continue reading


Hope & Glory: Glass Houses

I’m very proud to announce that Glass Houses, the first novella set in the Hope & Glory game setting, is finally available via Amazon, RPGNow and DriveThruRPG, in a variety of digital formats.

It’s been a long road, and it is good to finally see this first title out. And I owe a big Thank You! and a colossal, collective slap on the back to all the people that worked on this project.
More books will follow.


Glass Houses is a steampulp tale set in an India that never was – it is plain old fashioned science-fictional intrigue, and was designed as a stand-alone story for everyone, gamers and non-gamers.

To learn more about Hope & GloryContinue reading

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The other books by Clive Cussler

php49246e79454e7Confessions of a reader and writer of adventure stories: I always found Dirk Pitt insufferable.
And while I always liked Clive Cussler for his no-frills attitude to writing and his honest commercialism (and his aloha shirts), every single time I tried to settle down with a Dirk Pitt novel I wasn’t able to go beyond the third chapter.
In part I blame the Italian translations, in part the lasting effects of Raise the Titanic, that sort of cast a lugubrious shadow over what was supposed to be a high-adventure yarn, spoiling my fun for the following decades.
And much as I appreciated the opening titles sequence and the soundtrack for Sahara (see below), it did not actually help the defense of Dirk Pitt’s case as far as I am concerned. Continue reading


The Dictionary of Imaginary Places

I mentioned it in a comment and I promised a post about it, so why not now?
The Dictionary of Imaginary Places is one of those reference books that are an actual pleasure to read. You can look up an entry when in need, sure, but simply going through it from cover to cover is a delight.

Written by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi with tongue firmly in cheek, and first published in 1980, the volume covers imaginary lands from myth and literature, providing a description, an overview and in over 200 cases, a map. The basic model was a tour guide, a massive Baedecker for places that do not exist – and apparently, there is an updated edition that covers Jurassic Park and Hogwarths, but I’ll stick with my 2000 edition.
Opening it at random I find… Continue reading