East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


A Halloween reading list

Halloween, Halloween… it’s weird when you find yourself doing more posts about Halloween than you will ever do about, say, Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
It’s like Halloween has become the Web’s main festivity.
A festival of ghosts, spooks and dead people.
Seems fitting.

So, why not suggest a reading list for Halloween?
And considering we are cheapskates, why not a list of free ebooks?

Let’s see… Continue reading

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Help me enlarge my library

I found myself another time-waster.
And you ladies and gentlemen out there might help me.
Let me explain – and to do so we’ll have to take a tour of my library.
Now, you all know I am a lover of historical fiction and historical non fiction – non-fiction-wise I love the history of Asia, of the British Empire, of Rome and the Mediterranean, too.
I have a very soft spot for Elizabeth Tudor and her age.
In this category I bundle also old travelers’ tales and the odd collections of National Geographic articles.


I’ve got tons of books on the subject, and I plan to get more – what’s life, after all, but the accumulation of books? Continue reading

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Other People’s (New) Pulp: Tropicana

Screenshot from 2015-11-29 22:34:14My plans for the weekend have been completely shot by the publication of Tropicana, a new Savage Setting for the Savage Worlds roleplaying game.
This week I’ll be posting various stuff about this setting – because it’s the sort of game that really clicks with a lot of my interests and passions, and reading the handbook was really inspiring.

If you are looking for a capsule review and an overview of the pulpy goodness that is Tropicana, point your browser at the GreyWorld blog.

In this post I’d like to offer a selection of resources I think players and game-masters might like to check out – if they don’t know them already.
Sort of an essential reference shelf.

Let’s go. Continue reading

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Discovering Blood’n’Thunder

81UCu+SCoYLI’m having a lot of fun – and I’m learning a lot – with the first of the two reprint volumes of Blood’n’Thunder.

For the uninitiated – but then, why are you here? – Blood’n’Thunder is one of the most respected, if not the most respected fanzine dedicated to the world of pulps, serials, radio dramas and related topics.

Edited by Ed Hulse (whose Guide to the Pulps is the definitive resource on the subject), and published by Murania Press, the magazine has always been a sort of Sacred Grail for me here in the back of beyond.

The red-covered trade paperback volume called The Best of Blood’n’Thunder collects articles from the long lost first ten issues of the magazine, and it is a veritable treasure trove of information, analysis and surprises. Continue reading


Learning my history

“By 1937 almost 75 per cent of European trade was on a barter basis.”

Not bad, as a snippet of historical info, when you’re planning a story with a smuggler as the main character.

Researching historical details as background and framework for stories can be great fun.
In this case, it’s also long overdue.

When I was in high school, history stopped with the First World War.
This, for two main reasons
. the post-WWI history of our country is still a politically sensitive area
. post-WWI history is part of the second half of the last year, and it normally gets sacrificed to make room for more hours in the subjects that will be covered in the final exam. Continue reading