Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Karavansara U. – first courses

When you have a good idea (or one you think is a good idea), you better put it in practice as soon as possible. Hesitation is a trap. So, I mentioned my idea to present a selection of courses the readers of Karavansara might be interested in taking, using online platforms.

The rules of thumb (we can’t really call them by-laws) of the Karavansara University are quite simple:

  • free online courses
  • related to the topics we usually cover on this blog: adventure & historical fiction, fantasy & pulp, history, the East, the Silk Road, and the whole wide world

And with this in mind, here’s a first selection of five courses that might kindle your curiosity…

Continue reading


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Karavansara Free Library: Arnold Wright (and Hope & Glory)

The Internet Archive is a treasure trove. Right now my browser informs me it is undergoing maintenance, but when it’s up (it should be up briefly), you can listen to Old Radio shows, you can peruse pulp magazines, and you can find a number of excellent resources for your writing and your games.

For instance, let’s consider the catalog of books by Arnold Wright, former journalist of the Times of India and then London editor of the Yorkshire post, who made a nice career for himself as an author of reference books about the East. Continue reading


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A Waiting Game – the wait is over

And so it’s out, my friend Shanmei’s A Waiting Game, which I translated in the past weeks.
If you like mysteries and the east and the early 20th century, this might be your cup of tea.
The story is very loosely based on a real character, but the story is entirely fictional – a small mystery, with a touch of espionage.
Hopefully, more is to come, with Shanmei already working on a new story, and plotting a full-blown novel.

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In the meantime, A Waiting Game goes for one buck and a half, and it reads like a breeze.
Check it out.


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A little hype: Shanmei’s “The Waiting Game”

I just delivered the translation of my friend Shanmei’s short story The Waiting Game, and I guess the ebook will be available as soon as the cover is ready.

Meanwhile, why not start with a little publicity?
Here is the blurb…

Peking, 1902

In the cosmopolitan China of the early 20th century, following the violence and horror of the Boxer Rebellion, lieutenant Luigi Bianchi, serving in Huang Tsun, is involved in the investigation of the death of a wealthy French merchant, poisoned while dining at the Golden Phoenix restaurant.
A Chinese waiter has been arrested for the murder, but is he really the killer?
And why the Japanese embassy seems to hide some details?

A short colonial mystery, with a dash of spy story, the first in a series set between 1900 and 1905, featuring an Italian soldier with a knack for investigations.

Would you buy it?
(I would, but being the translator, I get my copy for free)


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Another online course

Thank goodness I’m not watching TV anymore.
I’ve moved my work station from my room back into the library room where it was supposed to be from the start.
Which means that either I’m at the PC writing or doing stuff, or in the kitchen cooking lunch or dinner, or out walking or doing some shopping.
The TV remains in my bedroom – where I’m either sleeping, or reading books.
I prefer books.

But cutting on the TV and living chained to the PC means I’ve got time and means to follow MOOCs – of which I’m a sort of addict. Continue reading


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The Desert Road to Turkestan

DOL2Last night, I dug out the only Owen Lattimore book I own – 1928 The Desert Road to Turkestan.
Of all the adventurers on the Silk Road I discovered during my researches, Lattimore is probably the one I have more dear.
Maybe it’s because he was subject to much injustice, or because he was a keen observer and a charming storyteller.

Owen Lattimore was born in the USA in 1900. He was raised in China and educated in Switzerland and England. Unable to afford a university education, he got back in China, studied Chinese and was employed by a British commercial firm as jack of all trades and troubleshooter.
A load of wool blocked somewhere in the wild at the whim of a warlord? Send in Lattimore.
He actually liked it. Continue reading