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Jim Cambias
I am a writer, game designer, New Orleanian, cook, parent, and cat-slapper.
Recent Activity
I think enough time has passed since the movie Avengers: Infinity War came out that I can reveal this thought I had, without getting in trouble for revealing things people haven't seen yet. Spoilers away! You may recall at the very end of the film, after the credits, there's a... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Just The Caffeine Talking
No one's exactly sure where Monster Island lies. Those secretive government men in sunglasses made sure it's omitted from the charts. It may be off Siberia, or in the Indian Ocean. It may even be a peninsula. Nobody knows for sure. What we do know is that it had a... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Just The Caffeine Talking
Here's a neat article in (of all places) The Atlantic, about "How Mars Will Be Policed." I wish I'd had this when I was writing GURPS Mars, although it's fun to see that my own wild-ass guesses reasoning pretty much matches the conclusions of experts. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Just The Caffeine Talking
Travel between the stars takes a long time. Your ship has been voyaging for centuries, and centuries remain before it reaches the destination world. Unfortunately, over that kind of timespan, things can break down: ship systems, information storage, civilization . . . The ship is huge, with vast habitat areas... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Who does Star Wars belong to? Well, legally, the answer is "The Walt Disney Company," because they paid George Lucas four billion dollars for his company Lucasfilm, which owned the Star Wars trademarks and copyrights. End of story. Except . . . One of the reasons Lucasfilm was worth four... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Congratulations to this year's Dragon Award winners: Best Science Fiction Novel: Artemis by Andy Weir. Best Fantasy Novel: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
You managed to slip out of the lab before they could do whatever it was they were planning — and then erase all your memories of the event. Now you're wandering around the alien spaceship in your pajamas, trying to find a way back to Earth. The inside of the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
If you're interested in military history, you start to notice something: in any discussion of motion pictures, you're the one critiquing the battle scenes. You're the one asking "Why didn't they . . . ?" Or saying "That couldn't happen." Or simply "That's not right!" You're also the one nitpicking... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
In 1925 the famous RMS Mauretania is the fastest and most luxurious liner on the Atlantic run, crossing from Liverpool to New York in just six days. That still leaves passengers plenty of time to get into mischief. With two thousand passengers, eight hundred crew, and vast interior spaces for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
A neglected episode of the classic TV series Cosmos. Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a wonderful destination for a day-trip excursion from San Jose. Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Reading back over my WorldCon reports, it occurs to me that I don't seem to be doing much. A couple of panels a day, and mentions of parties, but that's it. The reason is something I had to explain to a friend: "At a con the fans have fun and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Saturday I rose relatively early and had a swim in the hotel pool. Staying at a hotel with a pool makes one feel about three times healthier than otherwise. No back problems from an unfamiliar bed, which means better sleep, which means one isn't living on caffeinated sodas to stay... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
On Friday the 17th I dressed in my frankly magnificent Professional Author costume and plunged into the convention. All the really interesting panels seem to be first thing in the morning, so I went to one on constructing alternate histories, called "If This, Then What?" After that I took a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
The Crack Team were already ensconced in the Marriott hotel in downtown San Jose before this year's World Science Fiction Convention even began. We began the day with an expedition to the amazing Winchester Mystery House. We got both the basic tour (90 minutes of hiking around the biggest house... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
This coming week the 76th World Science Fiction Convention will be held in hazy San Jose, California, and I'll be one of the participants. If you want to see me, here are my scheduled appearances: THE CULINARY SPECULATIVE: Food in Fiction (Friday, August 17, 12:00 noon in room 210C of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Yesterday I was reading a James Lileks blog post about the legendary 1956 Roger Corman sci-fi movie It Conquered the World. If you haven't seen it, you probably should — because effects, locations, and extras were expensive, Corman reduced an alien invasion of Earth to a character piece, focusing on... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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This time it's not me griping about flags, it's a gentleman with the incredibly badass name Roman Mars. The scarlet-faced avenger gave a TED talk about flag design, highlighting some of America's best and worst city flags. He properly cited Chicago's flag as one of the best, and derided New... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
As one does on July 4th, I was thinking about the American Revolution. Specifically, about the commander of the Continental Army, George Washington himself. From all accounts, Washington was not a quixotic man. He wasn't the sort to throw away his life and his fortune in a doomed cause. (Unlike... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Regular readers of this 'blog (you both know who you are) may have noticed that I spend a fair amount of time thinking about Life, the Universe, and Everything. Specifically: where is all the Life in the Universe, and why is Everything so silent? Yes, it's time for yet another... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Ever since I got rid of my gall bladder I've been thinking about the ancient medical doctrine of the Four Humors. A brief recap: until about 1830 or so, medical theory in Europe was based on the idea that the human body's processes are dominated by four "humors," and that... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
In my last 'blog post I may have come across as a little over-pessimistic. My theme was the fundamental impossibility of telling "realistic" future stories. In particular, I mentioned that by the time humans venture to other star systems, they will no longer be human by our standards. Is that... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Most of science fiction is pure fantasy. Seriously. Take my own story A Darkling Sea. It involves humans traveling to another star system and interacting with aliens. That's fantasy, right there. There's no way to actually travel faster than the speed of light, and we have no evidence of any... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
David McGrogan writes interesting roleplaying games, and he had some interesting thoughts about fictional characters in his most recent 'blog post. You can read it here. If you're lazy and want me to just tell you what it says, his main point is that the urge to bolt a backstory... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
"Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres . . . " — Caesar A week ago, at about four o'clock in the afternoon, my stomach hurt. The sensation was very precise: a single point, directly under my sternum. I had been out to lunch with my son, so I cleverly... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking