Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Murder on the sea

My friend Shanmei, that usually writes Chinese-flavored, wuxia-style fantasies, is doing a series of historical mysteries set in the very first days of the last century, and based on the first-hand accounts of her grand-grandfather’s experiences in China and the East.

Murder on the Giava is the first of the adventures of Lieutenant Bianchi, an Italian officer attached to the Italian Expeditionary Corp sent to Peking in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion.

A smart, resourceful young man with a passion for photography, Bianchi is the sort of guy that notices things, and the go-to man when someone turns up dead on the ship that is carrying the Italian troops to China.

Murder on the Giava is a novella-length mystery, filled with historical detail and built around a baffling mystery.

Deception, sabotage, murder … and Bianchi has yet to set foot in China!
This is a nice start for a new series, and I hope we’ll see the sequel soon.
Meanwhile, you can get the book both in digital and paperback form, and it’s an excellent light reading for the summer.

(and yes, I translated it in English, so any problem with the text is my responsibility)


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Triple treat: At the Table of Wolves

If you are reading my blog you know there are a number of things that interest me: pulp fiction old and new, adventure, science fiction and fantasy, history, occasionally comics, caper movies, espionage…
“The kid has too many interests,” as the teachers used to write in their final evaluation … indeed, I was in the third year of university when a teacher levelled at me the old “too many interests” mark of infamy.

But it has worked out fine so far, and sometimes a number of interests of mine collide, and it’s a lot of fun. Case in point, Kay Kenyon’s 2017 novel At the table of wolves, that I have kept on my nightstand for a few months now, and finally started reading seriously at the start of the week, going through it at a fair clip.

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The Aeronauts (2019)

Last night I discovered I still suffer from vertigo, and I did so in the most baffling and yet safe way, by watching a movie – The Aeronauts, directed by Tom Harper, is streaming on Amazon Prime, and it’s a good, entertaining, suspenseful movie, and it gave me vertigo.
Which I guess it’s a sign of how well-crafted the movie is.

Inspired by true events with a fair share of fiction thrown in, the movie takes place in 1862, and follows the balloon ascent of scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) in the first expedition to explore the atmosphere. As the balloon climbs, Glaisher and his pilot, fairground aeronaut Amelia (Felicity Jones) face a number of unplanned for challenges.

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Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

No, this is not about the Jimmy Buffett song, or album.
It’s about something I realized last night, after spending 1.98 euro on two historical novels – I’ve been reading more historical novel than usual this last year, and while my science fiction reading remained steady, it’s fantasy that is taking a dip. Given the choice, I’d rather go for an historical novel, or a history essay than for a fantasy book.

So I started to wonder why, and came to the conclusion that I have three factors to blame…

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Pandora in Krasnojarsk

For my next story, that will be part of the Seven Lives Project, I have put together a handful of pieces, like cards in a solitaire, or pieces of a puzzle. I will start writing the story tomorrow, and work on it for the whole week, and once it’s ready (hoping it’s ready in a week) I will translate it in Italian, and post it to my patrons.
This, at least, is a plan.

But right now, these are all the pieces I have…

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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…

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A night out with Johnny Hawke

I first became aware of David Stuart Davies through his Holmes books and his work as editor on the mystery and supernatural anthologies for Wordsworth. I particularly likedĀ Sherlock Holmes and the Hentzau Affair, a fun pastiche that crosses the Baker Street Detective with the Prisoner of Zenda.
If you read this blog, you understand how I find that mix irresistible.

But there’s another series of books by Davies that always intrigued me, and that’s the one that goes by the name of Johnny One Eye – and in the past two nights I’ve had the opportunity of reading Johnny’s first outing, Forests of the Night.

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