Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Curse of the Golden Bat II – Lawrence of Manchuria

Second post in the “Golden Bat” trilogy of posts, a spin-off of my research for Guillotine Wind.
We have seen how the Japanese created a Golen Bat Export brand of cigarettes with extra heroin, specifically for the Chinese market.
This plan to get the Chinese smokers hooked on heroin was the brainchild of a man called Kenji Doihara, aka “Lawrence of Manchuria”.
And boy was he a Grade A scumbag.

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Enter the Women’s Black Hussars of Death

I am hard at work to finish the first Pandora story, and as I finally got to work on the last act, where the action heats up and things start to go bang! (because kids nowadays want explosions, you see) I have had the dubious pleasure of meeting the Women’s Black Hussars of Death – one of those things that will probably be flagged by critics because they are too pulpy and implausible, but actually were a real thing during the Great War and the Russian Civil War.

Yes, say it aloud… The Women’s Black Hussars of Death.
Why they never taught me this sort of stuff when I was in school?

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The French Swordmistress: Julie d’Aubigny

I am about two thousand words into a story that starts with a swordfight between a woman in a green silk dress and a nun, in the smoke-chocked corridor of a burning convent.
This will be my entry – should the editor deem it worthy – in the new collection of Italian sword & sorcery published by Acheron Books.
And the woman in green is, obviously, inspired by mademoiselle de Maupin. And really, I was sure I had posted about her in the past but I did not, so here we go.

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Marque & Reprisal

Letters of Marque are a staple of historical adventure and pirate-oriented fiction: be it in the Spanish Main or at large into the stardust-strewn Orion’s Arm, no matter if you command a sailing ship or motor launch or a starship, a Letter of Marque is what you need to be on the safe side. At least, on one safe side, at least.

Commodore Walkers Action by Brooking

The handbook definition is as follows:

Letters of marque and reprisal are commissions or warrants issued to someone to commit what would otherwise be acts of piracy. They will normally contain the following first three elements, unless they imply or refer to a declaration of war to define the enemies, and may optionally contain the remainder:

  • Names person, authorizes him to pass beyond borders with forces under his command.
  • Specifies nationality of targets for action.
  • Authorizes seizure or destruction of assets or personnel of target nationality.
  • Describes offense for which commission is issued as reprisal.
  • Restriction on time, manner, place, or amount of reprisal.

And that’s what I’ve been doing this afternoon, contrary to my plans – no, I don’t mean committing what would otherwise be acts of piracy(although it would be fun). I mean I spent part of the afternoon putting together a Letter of Marque issued by the Honourable East India Company to characters and players in my Hope & Glory roleplaying game – as in my universe John Company has become a sort of corporate state, they have a right to issue such documents.
To airships.
Because we like sky privateers.

The letter is part of a special treat for some of our fans, and part of the current Kickstarter to release an Italian language edition of the game.
And who knows, might turn into a hook for future adventures. It was also a nice opportunity to do the sort of research that makes this writing thing quite fun.


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Accountants, Soldiers and Nurses

Accountants are dangerous. And no, I am not going to entertain you with my adventures in mortgage and banking. The fact is, while doing a bit of research both for The Ministry of Lightning and for a short article I am about to write, I chanced on something that will not go in the article – being only tangentially connected with the topic – and will certainly get into the novel. And it’s all about accountants.
One accountant in particular.
His name was Andrea Compatangelo, and he was an Italian, from Benevento.

Let’s bactrack a little – during the Great War, a number of Italians fought in the Austro-Hungarian forces, simply because the territories from which they came, while being ethnically Italy, were part of the Hapsburg Empire. Many of these men were taken prisoner on the Eastern Front, and deported to Russia.

After the war, an Italian military mission took care of extracting the “talianski” from the Russian working camps, and bring them back to Italy. This is the subject of the article I am writing.
But there were others. And here we go down a wholly different rabbit hole. This is a strange story…

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