East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


India’s Illuminati: The Nine Unknown Men

Strange – or not so strange – connections.
I was going through the Talbot Mundy catalog and, leaving Yasmini behind for a moment, I checked out The Nine Unknown, one of Mundy’s most Theosophical novels, originally published in 1923 in Adventure magazine.


And I mentioned it with my brother, who is the serious Orientalist in our home, and thus I found out that the Nine Unknown Men are not something the Theosophists or Mundy cooked up, but are actually part of the real history of India. Continue reading


Getting re-acquainted with Yasmini

mundy-271x300I’m working on the final chapters of the Hope & Glory basic handbook, and at the same time I am preparing the new episode of the KaravanCast, and both activities, while taking very different times – no less that three hours of writing per day for the handbook, about ten minutes per day for the podcast – led me to an old acquaintance of mine: Talbot Mundy.

My creed is this: God is a gentleman.
And if God made the Universe, and made it well,
And since our duty is to be like God,
Therefore the things that common mortals do
Are better done; the thoughts the others think
Are better thought, by gentlemen.

Adventure's_Soul_of_a_RegimentMundy was one of the titans of imaginative and adventure fiction, a stalwart of Adventure magazine in its heyday and a distinctively anti-colonialist author.
And Hope & Glory being a universe in which British colonialism in India takes a very different and radical direction away from what history records, Mundy is certainly the most influential author for the project.

Mundy has been compared to Kipling, to Rider Haggard and sometimes to Lamb, even occasionally to Burroughs – but he remains very much his own man.

So I told myself, why not re-read a few Mundy books, and as I am at it, do a podcast on the subject? Continue reading


An artifact from a more civilized time

They say that no good action will go unpunished, but sometimes a selfish action gets an award.
I had proof of this yesterday.
As I announced I went with my brother to the Winter PineroleGames, a small, by-invitation-only, roleplaying gamefest in Pinerolo, a city by Turin from which comes a fair chunk of my family, and that has a long and respected tradition as the seat of the old Savoy Kingdom Cavalry.
Not that the cavalry has anything to do with roleplaying games, of course.


As I also mentioned, I was there to playtest the first installment of the forthcoming Hopoe & Glory plot point campaign, and thus my motives were pretty selfish.
Add to that the pleasure of seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones, and spending a day having lots of fun – because we had lots of fun.
The expected blizzard did not hit us and it was not necessary to send sherpas to look for us, but my brother had the not-so-great experience of driving for about 240 kms in thick, John-Carpenter-grade fog.

And we really had a wonderful time, and in the end there was a little extra – because the event was sponsored, and the sponsor – GGStudio, publisher of the Italian edition of Savage Worlds and other wonders – offered a complete roleplaying game to the game masters for the event. Continue reading

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“Why did I start writing? The price of pork and beans made it necessary. I just got hungry enough, which is always a good thing for beginners. I was in New York and I knew Jeff Hanley, a red haired reporter on a paper there. I would pound out stuff on the typewriter and Jeff would come home, look my stuff over, say it was rotten, which it was, and make me go ahead doing more of it. Finally, under the stint of his irony I wrote a story and sold it to Frank Munsey.”
— Talbot Mundy.

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Shameless adventures

adventure_19350815Do you mind if I rant?
You see, I don’t always call other people cretins, but when I do, it is usually because they pretend to know what they are talking about when they in fact they do not know.

Yesterday I was told that adventure stories – and genre fiction in general – is a second-rate form of cheap entertainment, aimed at housewives and blue-collar working-class brutes that can’t appreciate a good, solid, proper “real novel”.
And the word cretin erupted through my lips before I could think about something more scathing and cruel.

Then I launched in a long-winded rant the gist of which I will now inflict on Karavansara readers.
Because like a guy once said, I suffered for my art, now it’s your turn. Continue reading