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Jim Cambias
I am a writer, game designer, New Orleanian, cook, parent, and wood-splitter.
Recent Activity
Bonnie Chagneau-Ravoire is the greatest actress in the world, and I will fight anyone who disagrees. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Just The Caffeine Talking
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We've finally arrived at discussing actual intelligent extraterrestrial beings. I'm going to come at this concept from two directions in separate posts. This entry will discuss the science of alien beings — what they might be like, based on all the previous worldbuilding entries in this series. My next entry... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2024 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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On February 9-11 I'll be at the fabulous Westin Waterfront hotel in Boston for the 61st BOSKONE! The venerable New England convention is back again and I'll be part of it. Come on down and see some of the best writers in the U.S. talking about science fiction. And me.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2024 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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The famous Fermi Paradox is one of the central concerns of research on the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Just to summarize quickly: we know of no good reason why technological civilizations can't emerge on other worlds in our Galaxy, but we see no signs of any. Paradox! "Where is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2024 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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All living things reproduce. Organisms on Earth have evolved a dizzying array of reproductive habits and anatomy. I'm just going to look at the very basics in this post, and next time we'll look at how reproduction might affect the mentality and society of alien beings. Strategies: Biologists have identified... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2024 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Recently the magisterial Centauri Dreams 'blog ran a post by Paul Gilster about the "Copernican Principle" and how it conflicts with the observed facts about life in the Universe. (Short version: the Copernican Principle says Earth should be an average world, but if that's the case, why don't we see... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2024 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Long-time readers of this blog (all three of you) may remember that in December I usually include a link to one of my favorite Web sites: the NORAD Santa Tracker. Why didn't I run it? Blame the Task & Purpose blog, a very interesting Web zine about military matters. This... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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The menu for this year's Christmas dinner (with photos when I remembered to take them): Smoked Whitefish Pickled Herring in Sour Cream Vermont Camembert Cremant de Loire Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Braised Beef Brisket Sauteed Potatoes Roasted Brussels Sprouts Medoc Poached Salmon Mixed Green Salad Christmas Pudding Ice Cream Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Time travel has been a fixture of science fiction ever since a young Englishman named H.G. Wells wrote his first novel, The Time Machine. Wells wasn't the first person to write about time jumps — Mark Twain did it in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court — but before... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Once again I'm heading south to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for the venerable PhilCon, the Philadelphia region's long-running science fiction convention. Naturally, I'm not just going as a paying attendee, but as a participant. Here's my schedule, and if you happen to be in southern New Jersey this weekend, swing... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Get your tires rotated every six months. Oh, wait: I mean Dungeons & Dragons alignments. We all know the famous three-by-three grid, right? You've got Lawful Good in the upper left, with Lawful Neutral below it and Lawful Evil at the bottom. The middle column has Neutral Good at the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Should the visual arts tell stories? Or strive for simple abstract beauty? The answer of course is "yes" to both. Just as music has room for both fugues and ballads. Here's a good essay by Aidan Harte — sculptor and animator — touching on the neglect of story in contemporary... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Geoff Manaugh is an interesting writer — his book A Burglar's Guide to the City is something everyone should read — and he has a fascinating blog called BLDGBLOG. The most recent post (as of this writing) is about some ambitious projects to do large-scale surveys of the subsurface environment... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Forgive the interruption in service. Regular blogging has resumed. I've noticed something about the way cities are portrayed in most comic books — and in the superhero movies based on those comics. What I noticed is how old-fashioned the cities are. Whether you're looking at Batman's decaying Gotham City, Superman's... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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We're holding a "Fantasy & Science Fiction Festival" to benefit Deerfield's Tilton Library — and everyone's invited! When: October 8, 2023, from 3 to 5 p.m. Where: The Deerfield Community Center, at 16 Memorial Street in Old Deerfield. What: Meet local authors, watch a panel discussion about libraries in fiction... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
This is the weird time of the culinary year. This coming week I'm going to be canning summer tomatoes . . . and making a pudding for Christmas. New England's late growing season means you get all the summer produce right about the time it starts getting too chilly to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Albany's long-running science fiction and fantasy convention is back up to full speed this year, with an impressive guest lineup, a full schedule, and a nifty hybrid live-plus-online format. As always, I'll be there — I said I'd be at their disposal for one full day, Saturday the 10th —... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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It's been a while since we visited the Island of Lost Games, but there are still a few old and obscure titles on my shelf to explore. Today's game is 1996's Fading Suns, by Bill Bridges and Andrew Greenberg. It's probably the most well-known and successful of the Island's titles,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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The "Great Race" — often known as the "Great Race of Yith" or "Yithians" (but more on that later) — are the villains (?) in H.P. Lovecraft's last major story, "The Shadow Out of Time." Written in 1934 and published the year before Lovecraft's death, the story is the narrative... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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I write science fiction. I'm a huge astronomy buff, and a fan of all things space-related. I'm theoretically in the middle of writing a series about designing alien planets and extraterrestrial civilizations. So now that the United States Congress is holding hearings on whether there are alien spacecraft visiting the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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On June 28 I had my last breakfast in Tours, said au revoir to Diane, and went off to the train station while she remained behind for another couple of days at the conference. I made the train in plenty of time, rode to the transfer at St. Pierre-des-Corps, and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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On Tuesday, June 27th, Diane had to head off to the neuroendocrinology conference, so I was on my own for the morning. I got some espresso and walked about more or less at random. I went across the Loire via the Pont Napoleon, which crosses a large island in mid-river.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Monday the 26th was the last full day before the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology conference got underway, so we decided to go see what lies west of Tours, having gone east on all our previous jaunts. More or less at random we chose Chinon as our destination. Chinon is a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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On Sunday we set out early once again, heading up the valley of the Cher a second time. Our destination was the town of Saint-Aignan, home of the ZooParc de Beauval — one of France's best zoos. It's big, modern, and — on summer weekends, anyway — packed with visitors.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking
On Saturday the 24th we decided to take it easy. We slept about 11 hours, then I stashed the car in a garage for the day while Diane went out to find pastries for breakfast. We took our dirty laundry two blocks to the nearest laundromat: "Charlie et le Choco-Laverie,"... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2023 at Just The Caffeine Talking