Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Abraham Merrit’s Birthday

Truth to be told, it was yesterday, but better late than never, right?
Merritt was one of the great fantasists of the first half of the 20th century, and he had an incredible influence on his contemporaries (the Weird Tales generation).
Highly imaginative and wildly eccentric, he produces a number of works that are highly recommended.

Virgil Finlay, The Ship of Ishtar

And today, remembering his birth, why not check out my favorite Merritt work, The Ship of Ishtar?
It was originally published on the Argosy All-Story magazine in six episodes, in 1924. You can find it for free on the Gutenberg Project of Australia.

Virgil Finlay, The Ship of Ishtar

Virgil Finlay did some beautiful illustration for the story in 1949, and here are three examples.

Virgil Finlay, The Ship of Ishtar


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Karavansara Free (Audio) Library

Ultrafast post to direct you to OpenCulture’s huge list of 900 free audiobooks, featuring fiction and non fiction, and poetry too. Listen to Christopher Lee reading The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde, or Orson Welles as The Shadow, and tons of others, from HPL to Arthur C. Clarke to the Epic of Gilgamesh.

HERE IS THE LINK

Merry Christmas and season’s greetings!


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Shirley Jackson’s birthday

Today is Shirley Jackson’s birthday, and you know that we are big fans of Jackson’s work hereabouts.

And so, why not remember Jackson’s life and work by recommending you to read her book – starting with the classic The Haunting of Hill House.

And you are in luck, because you can read it for free, and it’s a lot better than the TV series.

You can download legally a copy from this link.


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The Tao of Seneca

This post started as something completely different. It started with me trying to put together a list of gift suggestions you guys might like. This led to my decision to send a book as a gift to a friend (let’s hope she likes it), and then through circuitous ways to a book I think I mentioned before, and finally to the author of The 4-Hours Workweek, and finally to Seneca.

Isn’t this world wide web thing a blast?

Continue reading


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Very short stories

Short stories are tough.
There is this sort of… not really a debate, more like a feud, between those that Novels are proper literature, short stories are for losers and those that short stories are the true distillation of talent, any hack can write a 1000-pages trilogy given enough time and coffee.
Both are wrong, of course, and both are right, because the fact is, it’s not a binary system – there’s a whole lot of shades and issues there.

I write mostly short stories and novellas.
I feel comfortable with the word-count, and they make for reasonably fast writing, meaning I can sell them quick and keep the creditors at bay.
Sometimes I write longer stuff.
All formats have their pros and cons.
My favorite word-count is probably within the 8.000-to-12.000 words range. Shorter, I usually feel cramped, longer, I usually need a lot of time and planning and things get somewhat rambling. Continue reading


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Karavansara Free Library: El Borak

773049I’ve been discussing the El Borak stories with some friends recently.
For the uninitiated, El Borak, whose real name is Francis Xavier Gordon, is a character that appeared in some of the last stories written by Robert E. Howard. An adventurer in a similar vein to Talbot Mundy’s JimGrim, Gordon’s always been one of my favorite characters, ever since I discovered an old paperback with a Chris Achilleos cover on a shelf in a bookstore, about thirty-five years ago.

The El Borak stories are tight adventure yarns, set along the Northwestern Frontier and in parts East.
Not the most popular character in Howard’s production, El Borak was a mature effort on the part of the author, a character that might have allowed Howard to grow in different directions.
But these are what-might-have-beens.

Six of the El Borak stories, including Lost Valley of Iskander, that really made an impression on sixteen-years-old me, are available online, having fallen in the public domain.
Here are the links to the versions on the Wikisource servers.
Enjoy!0f070aadc63cfd2749ab0cbd74da9e65--conan-heroines

The Daughter of Erlik Khan (First published in Top-Notch, December 1934)
Hawk of the Hills (First appeared in Top-Notch, June 1935)
Blood of the Gods (First published in Top-Notch, July 1935)
The Country of the Knife (First published in Complete Stories, August 1936. Alternate title: Sons of the Hawk)
Son of the White Wolf (First published in Thrilling Adventures, December 1936)
The Lost Valley of Iskander (Alternate title: Swords of the Hills)