This blog is the English-language home of Davide Mana.
By day, I’m a mild-mannered paleontologist and eco-statistics and renewable energy guru, and sometimes lecturer, teacher and translator (anything, to make ends meet).
By night (and on weekends) I turn into an author, writing fantasy and pulp stories, and sometimes essays on wild historical subjects such as explorers, dinosaurs, strange planets and old writers.
I listen to jazz music, read a lot of books, watch old movies and cook – among other things.
So far, only the Italian-speaking public had the dubious pleasure of reading my self-produced ebooks and my blog. But I think it would be nice to expand into the English-reading world.
So here we go with Karavansara – ancient Persian word meaning caravanseray, a place of rest along the road.
This blog will cover my favorite obsessions, especially those that somehow collide with my activities as an author, to wit
- adventure and pulp novels (such as John Master’s Bhowany Junction )
- old adventure and fantasy (such as Avram Davidson’s Dr Eszterhazy )
- movies (such as Cobra Woman )
- Arabian and other Oriental and Exotic fantasies (such as Graham Diamond’s Samarkand )
- ancient history (such as this )
- the Orient, its traditions and philosophies (and applications, such as this )
- the Silk Road (such as this )
- writing (mostly, my writing) (such as that old story about swingy thingies )
I’m particularly fond of what I call pulp history – that shady, slightly disreputable portion of our past in which moved adventurers, swashbucklers, globetrotters and other assorted characters1.
The two-fisted side of “regular history”, if you will.
So, here we are.
I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I’m enjoying writing it.
More things, hopefully, will follow.
Communications can be posted as comments on the blog.
Comments are moderated, so a few hours might pass between your posting the comment and it appearing under my article.
Also notice please that this being my English-language blog, only comments in English will pass the filter.
Sorry ’bout that, but I have to set a minimum standard.
Also, just to be in the clear, abuse, trolling and what I deem unacceptable contents will be eliminated.
Act as a jerk and you get in my spam bin2.
Oh, and yes – I’ve been advised to add a legal disclaimer: this is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone, and you can quote me at leisure but you cannot run my contents as your own.
Just to be in the clear.
out there somewhere
January 2013-July 2015
Karavansara by Davide Mana is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
18 February 2013 at 21:40
What would we do without the internet? We seem to have some interest in travel literature covering central Asia in the early 20th century in common…if that isn’t a special and refined interest, I don’t know what is…
I am currently reading Peter Fleming’s “News from Tartary”. Early in the book Fleming mentions Nina and Stepan Ivanovitch Smigunov. I find them very remarkable characters, so I am wondering what became of them. Remarkably enough, there is a book in Japanese by Stepan Ivanovitch Smigunov called “コンロン紀行” or “KunLon (sic!) Travelogue”, if my rusty Japanese is still correct. Dating from 1968, it is a translation. Seems that there is no edition in any other language. Regarding Nina, some genealogy databases in the internet hint at the fact that a Nina Smigunov who was born in 1911 (whcih would fit, as she was in her early twenties when she met with Fleming and Maillart) and died in San Francisco in 1986. Do you know anything about the Smigunovs ? I mean, with the upheavels in China, I am wondering what became of the white Russians eeking out a living there. If they really ended up in the US, that’s quite some live-story…
Many thanks and sorry for just approaching you like this,
18 February 2013 at 22:22
Nice to meet someone that shares my interests.
About the Smigunovs – I found them in connection with Erik Norin, a geologist with Sven Hedin’s “Travelling University”; Hedin mentions him in Riddles of the Gobi Desert.
Anyway – Norin hooked up with the Smigunovs in his attempt to escape from Xinjan.
The Smigunovs had some kind of commercial activiti in Tsaidan – but when the civil was exploded, they took the road east.
It was Norin that suggested to Fleming Stepan and Nina as guides for his travels.
They were indeed remarkable individuals – Nina was apparently the brain of the team.
I have no info about their late lives – Fleming (IIRC) states they wanted to get back in Tsaidan and reopen their shop.
Maybe something more about the two – and their earlier lives – can be found in Norin’s memoirs (IF they are available) or in Hedin’s book.
Sorry I can’t give you more information – but I’ll be on the lookout for more news about the Smigunovs, and share them through this blog.
24 August 2013 at 15:26
I just noticed I was mentioned on this blog…thanks! Feel free to beep me if you have some Silk Road story finished, I am interested. Maybe you already have? I didn’t find it on the site…
Keep up the good work!
24 August 2013 at 15:35
Thanks for visiting.
I’va a ebook out on Silk Road history… but it’s written in Italian.
It’s called “Avventurieri sul Crocevia del Mondo” (Adventurers on the Crossroad of the World).
I’ll let you know should I get something finished, and in a more user-friendly language 🙂
28 September 2013 at 22:29
Davide, Thanks for the link to my blog. I’m glad you found it useful enough to link to it.
Interesting blog you have here, I will be back to read in more detail, when I have a little more time.
28 September 2013 at 23:17
Thank you for visiting!
31 August 2014 at 08:42
Thanks Davide. Delighted to have found your fascinatingly diverse blog and I’ll be back to explore further. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (give it a spin!).
31 August 2014 at 10:38
Thanks for reading me!
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24 November 2017 at 16:12
Hi Davide. Just reminding you that I have you on the roster for the Greta Garbo Blogathon to do “Queen Christina”. Are you still writing your entry?
24 November 2017 at 17:07
It will be online later tonight!
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24 November 2017 at 17:59
Thanks, and looking forward to it.
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10 June 2018 at 13:54
Hey Davide. Just a reminder that today is the last day of the Judy Garland Blogathon. I have you on the roster for “Judgement at Nuremburg”
10 June 2018 at 14:23
I’ve been out yesterday, and I just got in.
1 August 2018 at 21:29
Hey Davide. How are you? I seem to have missed your post for the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Blogathon, but not to worry. Life can be rather hectic at times. However, It seems that I’m obsessed with hosting blogathons, because I’ve announced another. You are cordially invited to join in. Here is the link below.
2 August 2018 at 09:07
I am sorry -a s you say, life is pretty hectic.
But I’ll be there for Lauren Bacall!
14 August 2018 at 20:48
Hey Davide. I’m just popping back around to remind you that the Fourth Annual Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon is now running. I have you on the roster for “The Mysterious Island”. The blogathon ends tomorrow.
14 August 2018 at 23:03
And the post is coming….
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7 September 2018 at 20:03
Hi Davide. Just sending out a reminder to say that today is the last day of “The Joseph Cotten Blogathon.”. I have you on the roster for “Journey Into Fear”.
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7 September 2018 at 20:12
My goodness – I was so caught up with the launch of my game, I completely forgot.
I will put the post up before midnight!
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5 March 2019 at 22:49
Hi Davide. Hope you are going well. I just thought I would drop by to send you an invite to my annual blogathon in April. I’d love you to join in. Here is the link below if interested.
5 March 2019 at 23:36
Yes, I’ll try and find something interesting to write about.
7 April 2019 at 22:38
Hi Davide. I’m just sending you a reminder. Today is the last day of the Bette Davis Blogathon. I have you on the roster for “The Watcher in the Woods”.
7 April 2019 at 22:46
And I completely forgot.
I’ll post straight away!
1 March 2020 at 23:40
Hello. I am looking for information regarding Attilio Gatti’s 12th Aftrican Expedition, and, after reading your posts, I thought you might be able to give me some direction, as to where I might find more information. My family used to build a small boat that my father designed, the Selleck Watercycle, and Mr. Gatti took at least a pair of them with him on the 12th expedition, with the hope they might be good floating photographic platforms. If you think you might be able to help me, I’d appreciate hearing back from you.
Thanks very much,
2 March 2020 at 00:16
I am sorry, but all I know about Attilio Gatti is summed up in my post. I did try to follow up, but was unable to dig out anything else.
But should I happen to find out more in the future, I’ll get back to you.
28 March 2023 at 18:17
Davide, just stumbled across your site by chance, and enjoyed the discovery! Paleontology and pulp adventure…what’s not to love? In addition to the “real job,” I’ve been writing fiction and non-fiction for magazines for several years, and find this place quite cozy.
28 March 2023 at 20:31