Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Leave a comment

A bit of pulp detection

One of the things that have helped me remain sane in the last few months is the weekly podcast I record with my friend Lucy.
It’s a simple thing, in Italian, that we started because we were isolating at home 500 kms apart, and were both feeling stressed – so we meet virtually once a week, and we talk about old horror movies. We would have done it anyway, as a way to keep a hold on our sanity, but then we said … why not turn it into a podcast?

So far we’ve discussed films new and old, from Carpenter’s The Fog to he classic post-apocalyptic Doomsday from 2008, and then Bride of Frankenstein and A Chinese Ghost Story, and so on and so forth. We have a pretty loose definition of horror, and we expand on SF, adventure, disaster movies, even comedies. We are currently about to record the 16th episode, and we are already working on the 17th.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Dumarest #1: The Winds of Gath

Now, was this fast or what?
I started reading E.C. Tubb’s The Winds of Gath around lunchtime, and by tea time it was over. The novel is pretty slim – 240 pages, in fact, and it’s pretty fast reading, but all in all I’m well pleased, and I’ll go on reading the series as long as it manages to be this fun.

So, what’s this all about?

Continue reading


3 Comments

The summer of Dumarest

Back when I was starting as a science fiction reader – as to say, in the late ’70s – I chanced upon an article in a magazine that basically quartered and killed E.C. Tubb and his Dumarest series. Cheap, repetitive, boring, bad bad bad. Oh, well, I took note and moved on – it’s not like there wasnt other stuff to read, right?

Fast forward to 2017 and the announcement that a TV series was in the works based on the Dumarest novels. Back then, a friend dropped on me the whole 33-books series, telling me it was a good opportunity for me to brush up on the plot before the series hit our screens.
The series never happened, I never read the books.

Then, this morning, two things happened.

Continue reading


7 Comments

Two evenings with the Queen of Zamba

I have always loved Lyon Sprague De Camp’s books – both alone and in tandem with his pal Fletcher Pratt, both as a writer of fiction and non-fiction. De Camp & Pratt’s Castle of Iron was the very first fantasy I read, and then I tried to track down and read any book that had Lyon Sprague De Camp’s name on the cover.

This hunt for books was not helped by the fact that Italian SF/fantasy editors did not share my enthusiasm for Lyon Sprague De Camp’s work, or for him as a person – one of them actually celebrated De Camp’s death, and later would say that he “spat on the man’s grave”.
Because, you know, Lyon Sprague De Camp desecrated the purity of Robert E. Howard’s Conan. Or something.
Wankers.

(full disclaimer – while I believe that Howard’s work at his best was impossible to emulate, and think De Camp’s Conan pastiches are well below par, I also believe that without De Camp’s work to keep Conan in print, Howard’s work today would be a niche interest for very few connoisseurs – like it happened to many other pulp writers)

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Along the Silk Road on a Rolls-Royce

There’s a story of mine, called Queen of the Dead Lizards (you can find it in Pro Se Press’ Explorer Pulp, together with three other fine stories by three excellent authors). I will not spoil the story for those of you who might like to check it out, but let’s say that part of the action in Queen of the Dead Lizards hinges on a trip along the Silk Road on a Rolls-Royce … an accident in the real life of the last Khan of Bukhara.
And what can I say – it felt like a good idea at the time.
But through one of those curious series of connections that come up during rambling conversations, I just stumbled on another Rolls Royce ride across the steppes of Central Asia, in a book by an author that’s not often remembered today, and that’s a pity.
So, let me take a rather circuitous route here…

Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Rose of Tibet

As expected, the effect of Christopher Fowler’s The Book of Forgotten Authors is making itself felt, causing my reading list to explode as I discover writers I have so far ignored.
First it was Margery Allingham, and now it’s the turn of Lionel Davidson.

A writer that was highly praised by Graham Greene and often compared to Eric Ambler, Lionel Davidson had three Gold Dagger Awards and was considered for a while a highly favoured contender, if an outsider, for the title of best British thriller writer.
One of his books was even made into a TV series by the BBC and his last book, published in 1994, received rave reviews.
But then for some reason he fell out of sight.

Continue reading


2 Comments

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.

Continue reading