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James L. Cambias

James L. CambiasJames Cambias has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and the 2001 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He lives in Western Massachusetts.

A Darkling Sea: Enjoyable and raises thoughtful questions

A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias

Ever since I was a kid stealing my dad’s sci-fi books the moment he laid them down for a minute (silly, silly man), I’ve loved First Contact stories and still fondly remember reading Murray Leinster’s classic, entitled, shockingly, “First Contact.” So when I was offered a chance to read A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias, which is at its heart a first contact story, I jumped. And I’m glad I did, as it turned out to be a mostly well-executed story with a fully realized alien race and a compelling story line.

A Darkling Sea is set on Ilmatar, a large moon that (perhaps like our own Europa) has a liquid ocean deep beneath its fully frozen landscape. The ocean is home to an intelligent species called Ilmatarans, who are sort of like large lobsters (multi-legged, hard shells, pincer claws). They live in small, highly structured communities clustered around deep sea v... Read More

Corsair: Solid, if a bit thin in its elements

Corsair by James Cambias

I was a fan of James Cambias’ debut novel, A Darkling Sea, a complex tale of First Contact that left lots of room at the end for a continuation of that story. Instead though, Cambias took a pretty strong detour with his second novel, Corsair, which as its name suggests has to do with space piracy, though perhaps not in the usual fashion.

The phrase “space pirates” usually conjures up in one’s mind (well, this mind at least) a space opera-like story, with FTL ships barreling along in interstellar space, energy weapons and force fields, spaced suited and armored boarding parties a la all those books from my youth: Isaac Asimov... Read More

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction: Packed full of excellent SF stories

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction is packed full of excellent science fiction stories. I've been reading anthologies lately, partly to improve my own short story writing, and this is the best I've found so far. It contains stories by authors such as Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow, Catherynne M. ValenteJohn Scalzi, Jo Walton, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Bear... Read More