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Jim Cambias
I am a writer, game designer, New Orleanian, cook, parent, and wood-splitter.
Recent Activity
My son is taking a class on Mythologies of the Ancient World, which means he's been reading things like the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and other ancient works (in translation). And since we've been talking about what he's studying in class, that means I've been re-reading them and thinking... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Just The Caffeine Talking
It appears I won't need to bother going to this year's WorldCon. If they are willing to believe and promote lies about my publisher, they can get along without me. I urge everyone else who cares about science fiction to skip this year as well. Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2021 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Congratulations to the Perseverance rover on its successful landing on Mars. Pretty impressive job for a rookie pilot! Let's all wish it a long career of rolling around the Martian landscape. ADDENDUM: Almost as impressive as the landing is the amazing improvement in data return. Forty-five years ago, when I... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2021 at Just The Caffeine Talking
I recently acquired a copy of The Lost Road, an unfinished work by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited and extensively annotated by his son Christopher Tolkien. The origin of the work is very interesting: according to Tolkien's own account, it grew out of a conversation he had with his close friend C.S.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2021 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Here's an interesting science story: researchers describe fossilized soft tissue of a dinosaur cloaca — the first time this part of any dinosaur has been seen before. You can read about it at ScienceDaily (for the highbrow version), LiveScience (for the popular-science version), or Gizmodo (for the . . .... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2021 at Just The Caffeine Talking
This weekend I'll be appearing at the venerable Arisia science fiction con. Normally it's held in Boston, but this year it's happening right on your computer. You can join it here: I'm doing three events this weekend. On Friday evening at 10:00 pm (EST) I'm doing a reading from... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2021 at Just The Caffeine Talking
A couple of weeks ago I posted about the exciting discovery in Oxford's Bodleian Library of unpublished notes and drafts by the 18th Century explorer and naturalist Dr. Lemuel Gulliver. That first post included Gulliver's discussion of how the difference in scale affected the architecture and habits of the Lilliputians.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2021 at Just The Caffeine Talking
A lot of people think they've watched the movie It's A Wonderful Life but either haven't actually seen it, or have forgotten most of it. This leads to a lot of misunderstanding. When my family watched it this past Christmas my son was astonished to discover that a good two-thirds... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2021 at Just The Caffeine Talking
The perfect day for a strong Yuletide Punch! Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
I've posted at great length on the Fermi Paradox — the simple question "Where are they?" in regard to extraterrestrial civilizations. One element of that paradox is simply that the time it would take for an expanding civilization to spread across the Galaxy is relatively short in geological terms. Or... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Back in the 1990s I wrote some adventures and sourcebook material for the legendary Star Wars Roleplaying Game published by West End Games. Some of the worlds and plot elements I put in those pieces actually worked their way into the "canon" of the Star Wars universe, and I got... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Historians and students of literature were tremendously excited by the recent announcement by Oxford University that several volumes of unpublished notes by Lemuel Gulliver had been found in the Bodleian Library. Dr. Gulliver was a little-known 18th-century explorer, the first European to visit Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, and other lands of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Robin Hanson, who invented the term "Great Filter" in the first place, comes back to the topic in his own blog for a look at a couple of neglected aspects of the topic. You can read his whole post here. One of the key issues he raises is whether or... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
I was recently reading about the legendary silent comedy star Harold Lloyd, and learned the interesting fact that he did his famous comedy stunts despite having lost the index finger and thumb of his right hand (he used a glove with prosthetic digits to hide the injury). Here is Wikipedia's... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
On Thanksgiving, after a huge midday dinner, we all sat down on the couch to watch a movie. We eventually decided to watch David Michod's 2019 movie The King, featuring Timothée Chalamet* as Henry V of England. The three of us gave it a solid B+ — good acting, good... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Last weekend's Virtual PhilCon went very well, and gave me a couple of 'blog post ideas. This is the first. On Saturday the 21st, I moderated the panel on "The Oceans of Space." Moderating was easy because there was only one other panelist, the brilliant and charming Kelli Fitzpatrick. We... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
My first Tale of the Billion Worlds, The Godel Operation, is now available for pre-order on Amazon. The official publication date is May 4 of 2021, but it's always a good idea to get at the head of the line. If you want a sneak preview of The Godel Operation,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
This year's PhilCon — the venerable Philadelphia-era science fiction con now in its 84th year — is going to be all-online. On the plus side that means no New Jersey traffic and mall food; on the minus side it means no spontaneous conversations in the hotel lobby, no room parties,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
When does speculative science cross the invisible line and become pseudoscience? That's a topic I grapple with when writing science fiction, and one which crops up whenever scientists air some of their wilder theories. For example, Dr. James Benford recently published a paper on searching for alien "technosignatures" on Near-Earth... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
The Godel Operation, the first full-length tale of the Billion Worlds, is on the Baen release schedule for May 2021. I'm already working on a second Billion Worlds novel and a short story. Best of all, we have cover art! Watch this space for new developments as the release date... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Today marks a significant anniversary. Twenty years ago, on October 31, 2000, the first crew launched to the International Space Station. Station crews are called "Expeditions," so Expedition 1 began on that date. We're currently on Expedition 64, with three in the pipeline and many more planned. The Expeditions overlap,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
It's snowing outside as I write. Feh. The leaves aren't all off the trees yet. I was waiting for all of them to fall before raking. Now there's a layer of wet unraked leaves under the snow. Feh. Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Here's an interesting — and, I think, important — brief essay on the value of long things. Listening to long pieces of music, reading long books, and (for us nerds) playing long roleplaying campaigns. It's by David McGrogan, better known as "Noisms," the somewhat mysterious author of the amazing Yoon-Suin... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
On Friday evenings my wife and I have a regular Movie Night. We've been doing it ever since it became impossible to go out to a real movie theater, and I expect we'll continue after (if) they re-open. To avoid conflicts over what to watch — or, worse yet, an... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Well, I think I've come to the end of my series on the Great Filters and the Fermi Paradox. There are a few bits which didn't quite fit into any of the earlier posts. So here they are, in more or less random order. Have We Looked? First, there's the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2020 at Just The Caffeine Talking