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Jim Cambias
I am a writer, game designer, New Orleanian, cook, parent, and cat-slapper.
Recent Activity
It looks like a whimsical little cottage on the outside, but on the inside the Wizard's House is a bewildering maze of hallways, endless staircases, courtyards, and rooms of every size. The windows look out on a frightening variety of landscapes, some which cannot exist on Earth. You're not the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
I'm not actually going to this year's World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, and I only just discovered something interesting: the first WorldCon was held July 4 weekend in 1939, so this year represents the eightieth anniversary of WorldCons. Happy eightieth birthday! Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Turkey remained neutral during World War II, but Istanbul's strategic location made it a hub of espionage and intrigue. American, British, Russian, German, and Italian agents all spied on each other with varying success, and the Turkish Security Service spied on them all. Exiles and displaced persons sought refuge there,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Waldo's momentum is 34,974 kilogram-meters per second. Now you'll never find him. Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
You've just emerged from hyperspace, or shut off the Alcubierre drive, or switched on the plasma sail to slow down from relativistic speed. You're here, in a new star system, and it's time to look around. Long-range telescopes have already showed you all the major planets, but you still have... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
I can usually eat something without telling the world about it, but tonight I made a grilled marinated Porterhouse steak with an heirloom tomato salad, followed by fresh-picked ripe strawberries and ice cream. All served up on the porch on a perfect evening. But that's not what I actually intended... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
In both fiction and roleplaying games, there's a distinction between a character (or NPC) who is a villain, and one who is an antagonist. The villain is evil, or at least selfish and callous. Not only do his (or her) goals oppose those of the heroes, his character is morally... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
The new Sage of Providence, Paul Di Filippo, wrote a very kind and perceptive review of Arkad's World. Somehow I missed it when it came out back in February, but he recently put it up on Facebook. You can read the full review here. Then you can go buy the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
When the great wizards go to war, even Kings run and hide. In this D20-inspired fantasy setting, two factions of wizards have moved from rivalry to outright warfare. Everybody thought it would end quickly, but of course it has dragged on, drawing in new allies as blazing anger turns to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
We never observed "Fathers' Day" in my family. Still don't. My father liked to pick out his own neckties, and dismissed the whole event as something ginned up by the makers of greeting cards and electric shavers. So all the appreciations and in memoriams people are posting on 'blogs and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
It's always those damned Lannisters messing everything up, isn't it? Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
In 1748 the famous libertine baronet Sir Francis Dashwood ordered the excavation of a complex of chalk caves under his family seat of West Wycombe Park. The work incorporated existing caves and mine tunnels, as well as new chambers and galleries, and may have linked to some of the "follies"... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
I visited the Normandy beaches in 1993, a year before the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of the invasion. Beaches, of course, don't preserve anything very long. They are places where the ocean grinds everything to sand. Normandy's seashore is good for strolling; the water's too chilly for swimming and there are... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Akmon is a city of a million people floating in the hazy blue-green atmosphere of Uranus. The city's held aloft by a ten-kilometer balloon made of diamond, filled with hydrogen superheated by a fusion powerplant which doubles as an artificial Sun. Akmon serves as a hub for atmosphere mining, a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
No, I'm fine. Not that kind of medical history. I'm talking about the history of medicine, and the history of medical terminology. A couple of weeks ago I had my annual checkup. It mostly consisted of a blood draw and some lab work, to see if all my humors were... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
"The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings. From any of the hexagons one can see, interminably, the upper and lower floors. The distribution of the galleries is invariable.... Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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 May 23, 2019 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 May 20, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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
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