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Jim Cambias
I am a writer, game designer, New Orleanian, cook, parent, and cat-slapper.
Recent Activity
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 4 days ago 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 4 days ago 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 5 days ago 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
I made the traditional New Orleans dinner for New Year's Day: Hoppin' John (=black-eyed peas and rice), Brown Cabbage, and sausage. It came out very well: the Hoppin' John was wonderfully rich, thanks to the goodness of a smoked pork hock, while the sausage was a pretty decent facsimile of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Today's the official publication date for my new book Arkad's World! Copies should be hitting the brick-and-mortar stores this week, and are already available for ordering online, so if you're wondering what to do with those gift cards or bundles of cash Santa left in your stocking, wonder no longer.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2019 at Just The Caffeine Talking
Five days to go before Arkad's World hits the shelves! If you're wondering what to do with that Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card Santa put in your stocking, try the novel that Booklist calls ". . . a feat of world-building: an expansive, believable setting with fascinating aliens,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
As cultures develop a large and relatively affluent middle class, they develop what we call "pop culture." The upper class have "high culture" more or less by definition, and the lower class don't have the leisure time or spare wealth to create culture at all. Tom Wolfe chronicled this in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
We recently re-watched Sam Peckinpah's famous gritty Western The Wild Bunch. This time around I realized something: at least one of the titular Bunch is a secret agent of the Time Patrol. The moment of revelation comes when the gang arrive at the headquarters of the corrupt Mexican warlord General... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
One of the most anxious times for a writer is just before the book hits the stores, at the moment when the first reviews appear. You may like what you've written, your editor may like it, your wife and the people in your writing workshop may like it . .... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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Christmas came about a week early this year! Look what arrived: freshly-printed copies of Arkad's World! If these volumes have reached my house, there's at least a sporting chance copies are getting to Amazon's warehouses or your local bookstore. Get your copy now! I honestly believe this is the best... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
This year we had two and a half guests for Thanksgiving1and so decided to really pull out all the stops for an epic meal. The menu: Hors d'Oeuvres Pickled Herring in Sour Cream Oyster Patties Cremant de Bourgogne Viandes Roast Stuffed Breast of Turkey Sous-Vide Breast Turkey en Mole Juliénas... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2018 at Just The Caffeine Talking
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 Nov 19, 2018 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 Nov 16, 2018 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
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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