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Jim Cambias
I am a writer, game designer, New Orleanian, cook, parent, and cat-slapper.
Recent Activity
Very interesting BBC Travel story about re-creating ancient Mesopotamian recipes. Read it here. They include a lamb stew which sounds worth trying. The only surprising thing, really, is that anyone should be surprised that people living nearly 4000 years ago ate much the same things their modern descendants do. Food... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Just The Caffeine Talking
This weekend I'll be attending the venerable PhilCon convention, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. That's near enough to Philadelphia that you can still get scrapple for breakfast, so I guess it qualifies. Here's my schedule. Stop by and say hi! Fri 6:00 PM in Executive Suite 623: READINGS — PAUL... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Naples is an ancient city built atop layers of volcanic tufa. The stone is easy to dig through and carve, and over the past four thousand years people have dug a lot of tunnels under Naples. There are natural caves, Roman cisterns and sewers, the early Christian catacombs of San... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Today's Sylvia Plath Memorial Bake Sale has been postponed. Evidently we scheduled it too soon. Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
It's called "Transylvania" ("beyond the forest") because to get there from Hungary you pass through a hilly, forested area to reach the central Transylvanian plateau. On all other sides the region is surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, making it hard to get to even in the Edwardian era. During that... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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The title says it all, really. Alexei Leonov, one of the three greatest Russian space explorers, died last week after a long and amazing career. It's hard to avoid the feeling that we're living in a diminished age. We have great plans, great dreams . . . but too often... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
In the scenic New England town of Arkham, Miskatonic University sits on the bank of the river of the same name. The school's red-brick buildings and tree-shaded quads seem eternal, immune to time. Only the styles worn by the students ever seem to change. Most people know of Miskatonic (if... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
The place where roads cross has always been the scene of strange encounters, and midnight is the time when the strangest things walk the land. If you're passing through the crossroad between midnight and cockrow, be polite but brief with strangers. And if you're hanging around there on purpose, waiting... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
In honor of the forthcoming mass-market paperback edition of Arkad's World, here's a random encounter table for the city of Ayaviz, where the story begins. Ayaviz stands right on the twilight line of the tidally-locked planet Syavusa. To the east the planet's ice-capped night side stretches away to the spaceport;... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
This is a fascinating article by Natalia Dashan about her own experiences at Yale and the endless, seemingly pointless political/social controversies there. Read the whole thing; it's a bit long but very insightful. One thing which struck me very profoundly was her point that the Yalies (both faculty and students)... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
A little amuse-bouche to get you ready for the main course, which arrives in February — an excerpt from the beginning of my new modern fantasy novel The Initiate (now available for pre-order on Amazon, or at your friendly local bookstore): "It wasn't a bear, was it?" The voice on... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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(In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19.) In the late 17th century, the capital city of piracy was Port Royal in Jamaica. It was the biggest city in the Caribbean, and sympathetic governors turned a blind eye to British, Dutch, and French Hugenot pirates preying on the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
This Friday and Saturday I'll be a guest at Albany's long-running local science fiction and fantasy convention, Albacon 2019. On Friday I'm doing two panel discussions. At 3:00 p.m. I'm talking about worldbuilding in fiction along with a stellar panel (including Debra Doyle, Ryk Spoor, and Ian Strock). Then at... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Three-fourths of Earth's surface is covered by ocean, so it seems almost inevitable that people will someday try to live in the sea. This undersea city is funded by the inevitable eccentric billionaire, but is at least intended to become a self-sustaining, economically viable settlement. It's built in the shallow... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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My forthcoming novel The Initiate is now available for preorders from Baen Books. You can see the listing here. As you can see, there's cover art already — Sam has longer hair than I imagined him, but the lightning-dragon and the inimitable Isabella both play important roles in the story.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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This past weekend I attended (as a humble paying member) NecronomiCon 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island. If you know anything about horror fiction or games you can probably guess that NecronomiCon is a convention focused on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the father of modern horror. I had a great... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
The city stands at the junction of two great artificial canals bringing life-giving water to the dying seabeds of the Red Planet. Though ruled by an absolute monarch, the city is virtually lawless, as the tyrant cares about nothing beyond the walls of his palace and all his underlings are... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
All of a sudden it's Fall. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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It's a common misconception that the Middle Ages were a time of regression, both intellectual and artistic. Anyone who actually knows something about the Middle Ages knows that's ridiculous, but unfortunately those people are a definite minority. And one piece of evidence often used to show the cultural "backwardness" of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
The Starbase is a big space station in a distant system, serving as a command center and support base for the enterprising exploration ships of a federation of planets which are united. This is where velour-shirted or miniskirted starship crew relax before going where no man has yet gone. Aboard... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Sailing the Mediterranean in the Bronze Age was always an adventure, even if you didn't have to worry about angry gods. (And you always have to worry about angry gods.) Roll 1d20 each day when sailing, 1d10 when in port or beached. Roll twice and combine Plot-advancing encounter: Someone or... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
In the late 19th Century, the industrialized world's demand for rubber shot up exponentially. Suddenly poor jungle regions had a valuable cash crop — and that quickly attracted ruthless men eager to cash in on the boom. Manaus, on the Amazon, grew from a remote outpost into one of Brazil's... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Over the past forty years of travel I've learned that one should always build in one or two unscheduled days when planning a trip. That way, if something's closed, or it's pouring rain, or someone gets a kidney stone, you have a little cushion so there's still time for all... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Another late start on Friday the 19th — didn't leave the flat until past 11 a.m. The adventurers crossed the river again and braved the Prague light-rail transit system for the first time. Since most of our previous explorations had been within the rail-less Old Town section, we hadn't bothered.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
On Thursday morning we ventured down along the riverbank south of the Charles Bridge, admiring the gorgeous Beaux-Arts buildings. We wandered as far as Prague's newest (and, in my personal opinion, most over-rated) architectural landmark, the "Dancing Houses." If you haven't seen pictures, it's a pair of vaguely whimsical modern... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking