Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Egyptomania goes to the movies, a review

Last year I was paid 50 bucks by an Italian magazine to review books not available on the Italian market and related to the Horror genre1. I did it, and the reviews were so successful that my 50 bucks gig was not renewed for the second year – it was not worth the investment.

Now, my contract having been dead for over six months, I thought I’ll reprise here some of those reviews, expanding and revising the text.
Screenshot from 2018-08-22 13-13-12If you like them, you might consider buying me a coffee or supporting me on Patreon. Unless you did already, in which case, thank you.
Should there be any interest, I will go on with new reviews using the same format.
Let me know what you think in the comments, please.

For starters, here’s a bit about a very interesting non fiction book, called Egyptomania goes to the Movies . Continue reading


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Egyptian Mathematics

220px-Open_University_coat_of_armsI am taking a short course on Egyptian Mathematics.
No, really.
It’s part of the Mathematics curriculum at The Open University, and it is available for free as an ebook through Amazon.
Indeed, you should check out The Open University on Amazon – there’s hundreds of course ebooks for free, covering all sorts of subjects, from sciences to law to humanities, to business. Absolutely great.

Of course (ah!) the main reason I’m reading this book on Egyptian Mathematics is as a form of research for my stories – there might be some ideas I can recycle in AMARNA, and both the Aculeo & Amunet stories and the tales of the Contubernium might use some of the stuff in here. For the same reasons, I have also the companion course on Babylonian Mathematics here on my reader. Continue reading


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If only I had this back when…

Writing_a_Novel_in_Five_Days_While_Traveling_Cover_FinalI’m roughly halfway through the fourth episode of AMARNA (yes, I’m late), and I am taking a break to award myself a cup of tea and two biscuits, and to read a book I got with the latest Write Stuff bundle on StoryBundle.
The book is called Writing a Novel in Five Days While Traveling by Dean Wesley Smith.
I already told you about my current effort to increase my output – so that any book about increasing speed and writing in weird conditions interests me.
Also, I like Dean Wesley Smith’s attitude and approach to work, so there. Continue reading


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Cheer Like an Egyptian

This post was shared with my Patrons, but it’s too good a story to keep for a chosen few. Also, this is the genre of anachronism thing that my friend Claire loves to hate, and I hope she passes hereabouts and enjoys the disaster.

Fact is, a friend forwarded me, three days ago, the preview of a book – I will not mention the author nor the title. The reason the pages were forwarded is simple, and three-fold:
. It’s a story set in Egypt, and therefore intersects my interests
. It’s a good example of bad worldbuilding (and I am currently teaching a course on the subject, so I need show-and-tell material)
. “See, you fool? You spend too much time doing research…”

Well, I do not.
I love doing research, and if it does not make my writing better, at least it helps with my Impostor’s Syndrome.

Ruling-ancient-egypt-dbf7890

Anyway, the extract is rather amusing, sort of like putting a rabid cat in a box and then sitting over it, and it will certainly make for a great handout for my course.
The names are at best wrong, at worst ridiculous, the action is wooden and stilted, and then the Egyptians shout

Hooray!

Really? Continue reading


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Mister and Miss Belzoni

I was absolutely sure I had done a post about The Great Belzoni, but I was unable to find it.
It’s becoming unnerving, this thing that I get an idea for a post, plan it and write it in my mind, and then forget about actually writing it. I am damn scared of Alzheiner, you know…

Portrait_of_Giovanni_Belzoni_by_Jan_Adam_Kruseman,_1824Anyway, here’s the guy, portrayed in all his barbaric style and Oriental mystery.
Giovanni Battista Belzoni was born in Padua in 1778, but his family was from Rome, and in Rome he studied hydraulics. He flirted with the idea of joining a monastery, fled when Napoleon conquered the city and ended up as a barber in the Netherlands.
From there he moved to London, met and married a woman named Sarah Bane, and they both joined a circus – Belzoni was 6 foot 7 inches, and got a gig as a strongman, but he later got into phantasmagorias and light shows.
During a tour of southern Europe in the early 1810s, Belzoni became acquainted with Muhammad Ali, and went to Egypt to demonstrate a hydraulic machine of his own devising, that would be used to pump water from the Nile.
The machine worked but he was not hired, and therefore he found himself in Egypt, and without a job.
Someone suggested he should look into the local antiques. Continue reading


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A Christmas’ Eve adventure

It was a bit of Indiana Jones stuff, you see…
OK, let’s start from the beginning.
SFS_french_onion_soup-31Yesterday being Christmas’ Eve, my brother and I decided to treat ourselves with a hearty French onion soup. Nothing too complicated, but good and healthy, and unusual enough on our table that it feels like a festive dish.
We had the ingredients and the recipe down to pat, but we still faced a problem: finding two decent-sized bowls in which to cook the soup in the oven, and then serve it. So I started digging in the cupboards, looking for some fitting container.
No luck.
I moved to our father’s wine cellar, where we do not go normally now that our father’s not with us anymore, neither of us being a wine-drinker. Continue reading