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Jim Cambias
I am a writer, game designer, New Orleanian, cook, parent, and cat-slapper.
Recent Activity
For more than twenty years now I've done a lot of my writing in coffee shops. It gets me out of the house, I can observe my fellow pseudointellectuals and blowhards, and I don't have to answer the phone or walk the dog. In that time I've seen a lot... Continue reading
Posted 10 hours ago at Just The Caffeine Talking
(Yes, the Random Encounters are back! Once again, I'm going to try to put up one table each week.) The Martians dropped down out of the sky onto southern England in the spring of 1899, and got as far as London before succumbing to Terrestrial germs. They left behind a... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Like most people, I went to see the Disney/Marvel super-epic Avengers: Endgame a couple of weeks ago. It was good; I give it an A overall. This post isn't a review or analysis of the film. It's just one question. The question is this: during the Big Final Battle with... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
No, not the one with mythical hounds and/or Celtic deities crossing the sky on dark nights. The one with University of Chicago students taking a break from being obsessive overachievers in order to overachieve obsessively. Here's this year's list. Can you get all these things before noon Sunday? And if... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
According to my Hollywood sources the actual title for Star Wars Episode IX will not be The Rise of Skywalker, but rather Everything Rian Johnson Told You Was A Damned Lie A Film by J. J. Abrams Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
It's an old lesson, but one we must re-learn every now and then. Recently I began to suffer from "gamemaster withdrawal" after half a year or so without running any roleplaying campaigns. I was bursting with ideas for games, so finally I sent out a call for interested players, and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Recently I was watching a video bemoaning the current state of Hollywood. I won't bother linking it — you've seen it before, or read it in print. Hollywood has no creativity left, it's all remakes and adaptations of older stuff. You know the drill. I don't really disagree. I do... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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One common thread running through science fiction, almost since the beginning, is a concept I call "Disaster Excuses." A Disaster Excuse is some awful event used to justify what would otherwise be an unlikely technological project, journey, or social change. For a long time the standard Disaster Excuse was nuclear... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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The new Apollo 11 documentary is amazing. There's footage I've never seen, and I've probably watched every space documentary made in the past forty years. Skip this week's crop of comic book heroes and see a film about real ones. Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Let us return to those thrilling days of yesteryear . . . specifically to Restoration-era England, when a group of intellectually curious men began to meet at Gresham College to watch scientific experiments and discuss matters like how gravity works and whether blood circulates. At first they were informally known... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Despite the portentious title (or pretentious, your choice), this is actually just a link to a video. Here are some musicians performing in zero-gee, courtesy of a plane flying parabolic arcs. I call this art of the future because I suspect in a few years' time we'll see something like... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Judith Dial (editor of the delightfully un-redacted Conspiracy! anthology) published some remarks on the Amazing Stories blog about the shifts in fandom which provide an interesting "parallax view" on my own musings about status and social class in SF. You can read her post here. Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
This Friday and Saturday I'll be appearing at the venerable Boskone science fiction convention, at the swanky Westin Waterfront hotel in Boston. Here's my schedule if you want to join in. Friday, February 15, 4:00 p.m.: The Most Alien Aliens A panel discussion about creating aliens and what our depictions... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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This weekend the family sat down to watch Bob Fosse's 1972 film Cabaret, adapted from the famous 1966 musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb. It was a first time for all of us: my wife hadn't seen it, nor had my son, and I had only seen a heavily... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
". . . with awful ceremony and trumpet's sound, throughout the host proclaim a solemn council forthwith to be held at Pandemonium . . . " — Paradise Lost This Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. I'll be at Pandemonium Books & Games in Cambridge for a reading, signing, and discussion of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
The movie science fiction boom of the 1980s pumped a lot of money into the field. SF and fantasy authors began to get six-figure advances for novels, and sometimes cracked the New York Times bestseller list. Money and status usually go together (but not always, as we shall see in... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
You can hear my voice on the latest episode of the Baen Free Radio Hour podcast, talking about Arkad's World and various digressions. Listen here. Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
I spent last weekend at the Arisia science fiction convention in the heart of Boston. My chief amusement at conventions is the panels. I don't like "filk" singing much, I can rent my own videos, and I don't wear costumes (other than my "professional SF writer" outfit). I keep intending... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
On Friday, January 18, I'll be doing two appearances to promote the release of Arkad's World. At 4:00 p.m. I'll be at Annie's Book Stop in Worcester, doing a reading and signing copies. Once that's done I'll scurry eastward to Boston, where I'll be a participant at the Arisia 2019... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
If you're planning to come see me at Pandemonium Books and Games in Cambridge, I'm afraid tonight's event has been postponed due to a schedule conflict. When we set a new date I'll announce it here. But if you're desperate to see me in person, I will be at the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Think steam-powered spaceships are just a "steampunk" retro-fantasy notion? Think again. According to an article in Cosmos Magazine online, engineers are developing a steam-powered robotic asteroid hopper, intended for use in space resource harvesting. You can read the details here. Isambard Kingdom Brunel would approve. Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Marshal Zeringue has a fun 'blog with a neat premise: he asks writers what they're reading. To celebrate the launch of Arkad's World, he asked me to contribute an entry. You can see what I'm reading here. And if you're in Amherst, Massachusetts, tomorrow evening, please stop by Amherst Books... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
With the recent cold snap in New England I've been burning a lot of firewood. For several years now I've been cutting and splitting my own wood (it's cheaper than joining a health club for exercise), and I've learned quite a bit about firewood. Birch burns like plutonium, beetles will... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
I got my degree in history, and when I got to historical movies, I'm the one indignantly whispering to my seatmate about errors. Though actually I'm pretty charitable: I understand that movies do have budgets and physical limitations. If you're making a World War II movie and can't scrounge up... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
This is the Big Idea. Now you know. Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking