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Jim Cambias
I am a writer, game designer, New Orleanian, cook, parent, and cat-slapper.
Recent Activity
If you do, and you're in the Southern Hemisphere looking at the constellation Norma, you might see a supernova, accompanied by a gamma-ray burst. Any day now . . . which of course means any day in the next few thousand years. Astronomical events take place over long time scales,... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Just The Caffeine Talking
. . . at a wargames GAP! Apparently the Pentagon needs to find replacements for the generation of beardy wargame grognards who are starting to fail their final saving rolls. Here's an article about the problem from War on the Rocks. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Just The Caffeine Talking
I've never written fan fiction. When I was young, it felt like cheating or plagiarism to write a story set in someone else's fictional setting, or using their characters. (This was before the whole concept of "shared worlds" or "expanded universes" arose, and all works actually had a single identifiable... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
I drove past a hair-styling parlor with a fancy custom neon sign showing a pair of scissors and the name of the place: "A Notch Above." Huh? It should be "A Cut Above." Hair parlors all have lame-ass pun names — Mane Event, Short Cuts, Shear Magic, Curl Up and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
It seemed like Utopia: a city in a single building — high-tech, secure, and "sustainable." Shopping, entertainment, health clubs, offices, and services all in one gleaming structure. When the giant multinational company built it, the planners envisioned a hundred-story "company town" filled with fifty thousand workers and executives. They'd get... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
If you can't stand to wait for a printed copy of my new novel Arkad's World (and aren't picky about things like copy-editing), the electronic Advance Reading Copy is now available. Read a free sample or buy the whole thing here at the Baen Web site. I honestly think this... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
You've wandered into the amazing Holiday Inn Centre-Ville in Montreal, but there's some kind of odd event going on. Over the course of the weekend roll 1d20 every hour during the day to see who or what you encounter. Roll Twice and Combine Plot-Advancing Encounter: Someone or something related to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Academics worried about "anti-intellectualism" in modern society need to realize that the modern system of research universities and scholarly journals needs some serious housecleaning. Read this article to see why. Until scholars can muster the courage to stop encouraging and defending fashionable nonsense, the rot will continue. Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
No, not the familiar roleplaying realm of 10-foot grid squares and angsty Drow. This is the underworld of pulp adventure! In giant caves and artificial tunnels, three factions war for supremacy: the sadistic Deros, masters of ancient super-science; the dreaded Fungus Vampires; and the primordial Cthonians. Explorers may find their... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
"In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
First read this article, a summary and critique of some current "smart city" projects. The author unfortunately kind of skates around the main, fundamental problem with most of the projects he describes. They're completely antithetical to the way cities actually grow. Quite simply, you can't build a city. Maybe if... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
The Virgin Queen is on the throne, Drake harries the Spanish at sea, and Walsingham counters their plots at home. Somehow, England is becoming a superpower, and London is at the heart of it all. In the narrow, filthy streets, noblemen rub elbows with footpads, while spies and poets drink... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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 Sep 18, 2018 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 Sep 17, 2018 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 Sep 15, 2018 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
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