Month: September 2012

Algernon Blackwood Master of Unspeakable Horror

Algernon Blackwood Master of Unspeakable Horror

When most people talk about the early writers of horror they invariably discuss H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was the master of crafting tales of unspeakable dread, but he learned that craft from another. In fact Lovecraft’s entire body of work would have probably never been written without the influence of one man.

Algernon Blackwood is the English equivalent of Lovecraft and if you haven’t heard of him and you love the idea of eldritch horror or Gothic horror than you are missing out on one of the greatest masters.

If you are just learning of Blackwood and have not read any of his stories yet I would suggest you read “The Man Who Found Out” first. Some of his other fiction is more esoteric in nature and difficult to read. If you have read Lovecraft this type of story is very familiar. A character learns an unspeakable secret and goes insane. Blackwood mixes both science and magic in this story and suggests that the two are linked. I believe this attitude was very common in the period and the story plays on the fears of scientific revelation. The reader seeing this story in 1912 would have been inundated with new scientific revelations which had turned their world upside down. It was not unthinkable at that time that a scientist may discover a secret of the universe that could unhinge people or make them suicidally depressed. The horror of the story works very well on that level. I equate this type of horror with the rise of the science fiction horror movies in the mid 1950’s where the mad scientist creates unspeakable monsters or discovers some atomic secret that could destroy the world. This idea that somethings are better left unknown factors into horror tales in almost every generation.

 

After having read Blackwood I am almost tempted to call Lovecraft a literary thief. This is not to say Lovecraft wasn’t a brilliant author. In my estimation he is a much better writer than Blackwood, but many of the themes Lovecraft explored are found in Blackwood’s earlier works. Maybe thief is too strong. Lovecraft was a genius, but he wrote much of his fiction into the same universe described by Blackwood. Lovecraft merely fills in some of the gaps in that universe.

Sorcery, Steam, and Steel – The Second SteamGoth Anthology

Sorcery, Steam, and Steel – The Second SteamGoth Anthology

Since this is the 100th post on the Freehold I thought I would celebrate with a little unbridled capitalism. Some of you know that I started a small publishing company (Baird publishing) a few months ago. Our first independent title will be published on October 15th. It is entitled Sorcery, Steam, and Steel and was written by some very talented artists from across the US and Canada.

What is SteamGoth/SteamPunk?

SteamPunk is an alternate version of the Victorian period. In the universe of steampunk science advances using steam power and culture becomes stuck in the nineteenth century. SteamGoth is a subgenre of steampunk. It is darker and it encompasses the magical and paranormal side of this alternate Victorian society. The easiest way to distinguish the two is to think of steampunk as science fiction and steamgoth as horror and fantasy. Of course the lines are often blurred between the two.

This is the second in a series of steamgoth anthologies. The first anthology was produced in association with Amazon.com’s publishing house and is published through them. The new book will be published through Baird Publishing. While Amazon will still do the physical printing, the book itself will be an independently owned publication.

The first anthology Monsters, Magic, and Machines was a dry run to see how the publishing industry worked and if we could bring together the appropriate talent to create the anthology. It will be reissued in November directly through Baird Publishing. The reissuing process has created some problems for us. We have not been able  to secure the rights to one of the original stories for the reissue. This means that we have had to replace one story and there will be new content added. We are leaving the original for sale at Amazon through the first of November.  So if you want a copy of the original run without the changes please buy it now because it will not be available after November 1st in any form. Click here to buy Monsters, Magic, and Machines in softback or Kindle versions.

 

Horror Hosts- World of the Weird Monster Show

 

I love horror host shows. The bad production values, the horrible dialogue, and even the cheesy special effects. My favorite Horror Host show is currently  World of the Weird Monster  Show. They have been on for seven years in the Chicago area. I found them online and while I live no where near Chicago I have been able to follow them for the past five years online. Now they have moved to The Monster Channel an online 24 hour television station. Check them out on you tube or on the Monster Channel. I’m not sure the humor is to everyone’s taste, but I love this kind of outside the box production. They are not afraid to take chances. Sometimes it flops but more often than not their humor works well.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Daniel Knauf Creator of the TV Series Carnivale

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Daniel Knauf Creator of the TV Series Carnivale

 

This week we are proud to bring you an interview with Daniel Knauf. You may remember Daniel as the creator of the hit HBO show Carnivàle. He is currently working to recreate the story telling genre with his Bxx internet format. Bxx presents a non-linear method of telling a story in which the viewer can follow the story from multiple angles, out of sequence, or even follow specific characters through the story.

 

The Hitchhiker asks…

Question 1- Tell our readers a little about how you broke into the entertainment business. I have read a little about how Carnivàle was discovered and I would like to hear the story from your side?

I was an employee benefits consultant by day, writer by night. I’d had some limited success in the ’90s, but things hadn’t really gone anywhere in the long-haul. In 1998, I was in what I like to call “the crest of a slump.” I was closing in on the big four-oh, and I decided to take a last run at the whole silly screenwriting thing. I created a website called unmovies.com as an online resume’ of sorts, where I posted the first acts of all my unsold scripts as writing samples. In 2001, a young development exec, Robert Keyghobad, working for Scott Winant, an Emmy-winning television director-showrunner, found Carnivale at my website. We developed it together, took it to HBO and the rest is history.

Question 2- Many of our readers are older science fiction and fantasy fans. For instance I am 41. I know you broke into the business later in life meaning in Hollywood after your twenties. Was it hard to do that in a town obsessed with youth and what are your words of wisdom to someone like me just now trying to work my way into the entertainment field at this late date?

It helps to be talented. Know your craft. Deliver promptly. When an opportunity presents itself, seize it with both hands and ass-rape the shit out of it. I mean that. Don’t go for half measures. Keeping that fire blazing in your belly when you’re middle-aged is the hardest part of the battle. If you can pull that off, you should see a measure of success.

Question 3- You have been writing for comics for some time now. What is the real difference between scripting for a TV show or Movie and writing for a comic?

Comics are much harder to write. Like haiku, it’s a very unforgiving medium by virtue of its brevity. The disadvantages are that you can’t really depict movement. You’re writing a story with a series of stills. Also, you can’t rely on an actor or a deft edit to make your dialogue play. Everything is on you. Plus, comics pay way less than TV and movies. And there’s little or no back-end, so you totally get shafted out of any profits from movies that may be derived directly from your work. It’s a lot like how things used to be in the early days of rock-n-roll; a lot of terrific artists get terribly exploited by the big comic-book publishers. But the one big advantage to comics is the creative control you have as a writer. The editors pretty much leave you alone and let you create.

Question 4- Explain for our readers your latest project Bxx Haunted and where you want to take this? What kind of media would you like to see developed from this innovative approach to entertainment?

I created Bxx because, though the internet has been around for a couple decades, no one had devised a narrative format that exploited its characteristics. Sure, people post stories and videos, but they make no effort–other than, perhaps, length–to adapt them to the internet as a specific medium. An episode of television, for instance, can’t really be called “internet content” simply by virtue of being uploaded; it’s still just TV you passively watch on your computer. You’re not interacting with it the way you interact with actual internet content. I wanted to create a narrative form that the audience would access the same way they access other content on the internet, that is by instinctively clicking when their interest is piqued, receiving information in various media–video, text, images–and viewing it in a multitasking environment via multiple screens.The key difference between the internet and, say, film or a book, is that the internet is non-linear. The order in which you access content is dictated by each individual, not by some,external physical mechanism such a one page following another, or frames of film running through a projectors gate. The user defines how an what and in what order he or she wants to access content. So the first thing I had to broom what the idea of controlling how my story would be experienced. That’s not to say that there couldn’t be a three act structure–a beginning, a middle, and an end. In fact, that structure is immutable and unavoidable in life as in fiction. However, in traditional storytelling, the writer controls the sequence of events, parses them out in a very specific order that can be manipulated to maximize their impact on the audience. Since the internet is intrinsically non-linear, so too should be any narrative format adapted to that medium.So I considered other types of narratives that are experienced non-linearly. Ancient history, for instance. Artifacts are discovered, and a picture emerges of an epoch. Additional artifacts are dug up, and that picture changes. Artifacts don’t present themselves in linear order. History unfolds with massive gaps that gradually get filled as more information presents itself. Memories are another type of non-linear narrative format. We smell cut grass. We feel good. It evokes a moment in our own history, which then triggers synapses that connect us with adjacent memories–some connected by time, others by the people involved. And so in a few seconds, a scent can trigger a chain of memories that begin with our first kiss and end with blowing a math exam in college.A more technical type of non-linear narrative is the story contained on an airliner’s flight-recorder. The story begins at take-off and ends with a crash. The flight-recorder captures an uninterrupted real-time record of everything that occurred in the course of that story on multiple media–cockpit audio, radio transmissions, avionics, technical logs. The story of the flight is then accessed by investigators, not necessarily in chronological order, but in whatever way it is necessary to determine why the crash occurred.The flight recorder–or black box– became my model for the box-narrative format.As a proof of concept, I created an event that unfolded in real time–in the case of HAUNTED, a paranormal investigation in which the team is compromised and/or possessed by the very entity they are observing, leading to a tragic outcome. Like any drama, it was scripted and rehearsed. However, this drama lasted 32 hours, and was captured by 16 video cameras. We literally called “action,” and 32 hours later, called “cut.” We then put everything that was captured during the course of that drama–video, text, stills–on a website and developed a user interface that would allow the audience to navigate and access the content.Though the result is imperfect, it was much more compelling than it has any right to be. Without any promotion to speak of, we’ve generated a fairly large audience. Hopefully, we’ll get a shot at doing it again with a decent budget and better hardware.

Question 5- I am a big fan of Andrew Breitbart. He said, “Our culture is the most important front. And the three most important pillars of that culture are Hollywood and pop culture, along with education and the media. Those three are absolutely controlled by the left.” This website was created because I realized the truth of those words and I want to take back my segment of popular culture from the left. I know you were a friend of Breitbart and you suffered for coming out of the conservative “closet”. Please tell us your opinion of this quote and tell us what exposing yourself meant in Hollywood?

First of all, coming out as a conservative revealed the sheer vastness of the army behind me. I got so much support and so many kind letters, I was deeply moved. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten very little hate. I’m sure the decision has costs me a gig or two, but it hasn’t cost me any real friendships. Despite all the loudmouths, the majority of liberals in Hollywood lean closer to the center than you might think. All that said, as an artist, I serve truth and beauty, not right or left. If a narrative leads to a dark place with mature content, I’m going to follow it there. Injecting politics into a narrative is the sleaziest kind of propagandism. Yes, the Left does it all the time, and frankly, I think their work–and, btw, its effectiveness as propaganda–suffers for it. They have to twist reality grotesquely out of true to convey their values. So you end up with silly movies in which the “bad guys” are all big-business types of European descent, and all non-whites are portrayed as inherently noble–even magical. Nobody buys that stuff. It’s absurd. As MLK asserted in his “I Have a Dream” speech, character is not defined by skin-color. Bad guys and good guys come in all colors, races and creeds.Conservatives get that. Most people get that. It’s only the liberals that feel this need to PC everything up.To realize Breitbart’s words, you don’t fight leftist propaganda with rightist propaganda. You don’t fight fire with fire. You fight fire with water. The dramatic narrative is inherently a vessel for conservative values. The very construct of a classical “hero”–that is, an individual struggling against a collective, external menace–is deeply conservative. So my job is, in a way, easier than that of the modern Hollywood propagandist. All I have to do is tell a ripping yarn.I can tell you what I won’t do, though. I won’t ever write a gratuitous scene that makes the audience feel like a dupe because they go to church, or salute the flag, have pride in America and believe in its exceptionalism, or cherish the Constitution and the liberty it defines.

Thank you for the interview.

Wolves in Petticoats: The Victorian Werewolf

Wolves in Petticoats: The Victorian Werewolf


This is a rough excerpt from the introduction of a book on Victorian werewolves I am writing right now. It should be finished sometime around March 2013. (I have way too many projects to give it my full attention this year)

 

Introduction

It has been suggested that the vampire legend, largely created by Bram Stoker, is the most enduring and famous creature mythos to emerge out of popular Gothic literature. While this may be true the lowly werewolf must also be given a place of distinction. The literature of the Victorian era werewolf has nowhere near the enduring popularity of the Vampire, nevertheless during the period the werewolf was at least as popular with a score of books and short fiction to testify to its enduring legacy. In this book I will seek out the werewolf in its many forms and discuss its origin and evolution in the modern world. I will  break down werewolf mythology into several themes. The first will be the Supernatural curse. The second will be the “New Woman” werewolf or the wolf-woman as seductress. The third and final category will be the exotic werewolves of the Americas and India.

The supernatural curse appears throughout the werewolf literary genre. In the earliest werewolf stories these curses are almost always self inflicted such as in Reynolds’s, “Wagner the Wehr wolf” here the curse is the price Wagner pays the devil for his immortality and riches, in later works such as Kipling’s, “The Mark of the Beast” the curse is involuntary placed on the bearer because of his desecration of an Indian temple. I will discuss the varied methods by which the victims and often willing participants are transformed into a beast.

An intriguing aspect of the Werewolf during the Victorian period is the appearance of the female werewolf. When we think of female shape shifters wolves are often the last things to come to mind. There are literally thousands of books depicting women turning into cats or catlike creatures but not wolves; however the female werewolf was much more popular in European mythology and Victorian literature than in our modern literary tradition. The female werewolf while rare was a staple of several authors such as Clemance Housman and Frederick Marryat.  Housman was a writer, illustrator and a leading feminist of her day. She wrote several werewolf short stories and one novel. Her stories fit more in with the traditional folklore than some of the other Gothic horror novelists.

The idea of the werewolf is not just limited to Western and EasternEurope. The wolf-man is a universal human concept appearing in the folklore of almost every human society. During the Victorian period the West was being exposed more and more to the variety of world cultures. We can see this variety expressed in the werewolf fiction of the era. From Kipling’s Indian werewolves to Beaugrand’s Native American skinwalkers we see the werewolf in a multitude of aspects. The Victorians were fascinated by exotic cultures and exotic locales this made the foreign werewolf all the more intriguing as it paired a myth that people were familiar with to a more mysterious setting.

The classic werewolf literature of the 19th century has been long overshadowed by the werewolf of Hollywood. The original mythology is much more creative and innovative than the stock portrait of the werewolf that has been fostered on our modern sensibilities by popular film. In the Gothic horror novel we find a werewolf that is more than just the rapacious beast that comes out at every full moon. Instead the Victorians gifted us with a character as nuanced as the vampire and as full of pathos as Shelley’s Frankenstein. Modern authors would do well to seek out this classic creature and forget what Lon Chaney Jr. taught us about the Wolf man.

 

 

Gothic Monsters- The Litany of Fear in H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau

Gothic Monsters- The Litany of Fear in H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau

H.G. Wells may be known as one of the first writers of science fiction but his novel The Island of Doctor Moreau is one of the first modern horror stories and hits upon four of the greatest fears of the Victorian age. His work does this in such a subtle and inventive way that we may need to reevaluate Wells and name him one of the modern fathers of horror fiction as well. The four fears that Wells so intricately weaves into his story are the fear of science, the fear of internal corruption, the fear of reverse colonization, and the fear of social isolation. These four themes run throughout Victorian Gothic literature but few utilize all of these in one story. For instance Dracula is probably the best known of all the Gothic monsters but the story relies primarily on the use of the fear of internal corruption. In fact Dracula even fits the mold of the Detective story and uses scientific inquiry and deduction not as a negative but to finally destroy the title vampire.  If we look further afield we can see these four great horrors of the age used in many novels and stories of the period. For instance both Ziska and The Beetle utilize the fear of internal corruption, and reverse colonization as part of their plots, while The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde combine fear of science and internal corruption. Social isolation runs through many of these stories as an oppressive background to some but it is much more prevalent in The String of Pearls, here we find the Victorian mind petrified by the very society they have created. Alienated and alone a man could become lost in a city of millions. All these fears however are embodied in Wells story of men created from beasts.

Foremost in the novel Wells wishes to delve into the horrors of the scientific age. Doctor Moreau has set himself up as a literal God above the bestial creatures he experiments upon. He has even handed down a series of Laws in a parody of God speaking down to Moses.

“A horrible fancy came into my head that Moreau after animalizing these men had infected their dwarfed brains with a kind of deification of himself.” (129)

The audience of this novel was well aware of Darwin’s theory of evolution and I am sure they saw what Wells was suggesting through the character of Doctor Moreau. Here was a world turned upside down. Prometheus was unbound and God was now flesh and blood. Doctor Moreau represented the death of religion because if man could replicate the works of God what was God? Science had killed God and this realization could not have been lost on the Victorian mind. If men could command the powers of a God through scientific knowledge then what types of God would they be? Again Wells goes for the gut and here we see Doctor Moreau a mad God drunk with what he believe to be power over his creation, but just as Zeus over threw the Titans Moreau’s Godhood would end in tragedy at the hands of his creation. Science is at the heart of horror in this novel. Wells shows the reader that science unbidden by morals and ethics will run amok. This story is certainly a parable for the reader informing him of the dangers of science divorced from ethics and morality.

While a fear of science drives the story the twin fears of internal corruption and reverse colonization lurk just beneath the surface. Wells creates a microcosm of Britain on the Island. Here we have learned men of science, white men, civilized men but they have without knowing created the situation that will lead to their own demise. The beast men are creations of the Victorian mind but they are also stand-ins for those people that exist in the British colonies. Any Victorian would recognize in the dog-man the loyal Indian servant who graced so many wealthy homes in the period. This man brought from the savage Indian sub-continent would have been thought just as much a creation of British science and ingenuity as any man created from a beast. Here was a person, who through the prejudice of the Victorian mind would have been seen as having been raised out of a condition of savagery and into the light of civilization. What fear Wells must have produced in these minds when they read of the beast men raised in what could only be a parody of the civilizing hand of British society abroad. What little prick of fear would the fine gentleman have when laying down his head and knowing that his Indian servant could at any time revert back into a savage and kill him while he slept? This was the fear the Wells awakens in his novel.  So too did Wells awake the fear of internal corruption. We see this corruption creep into almost all the characters in the novel. Even the civilized Victorian was not immune to the effects. Wells pierces the thin veneer of civilization and we see the monsters and beast that lie beneath. Moreau is mad with his power. He has set himself up as a God before his creations. This internal corruption which can be seen as the loss of his soul is the price he has paid for his experiment. Prendick goes to live with the beasts and essentially becomes one of them while working on a means to escape. In the parlance of the time Prendick had “gone native”.

The last fear and one that probably sat heaviest on the hearts of those in London was that of social isolation. Prendick returns to London a changed man. His metal has been tested by his ordeal and he does not return the stronger for it. Prendick has been stretched to his breaking point and while he has not totally fallen apart his mind has been forever frayed by his encounters on the Island. Prendick cannot look at his fellow man or hear their voices without hearing and seeing the beasts. He is alone in a city of millions with his fear. Prendick comments on his fear that all men are like the beasts,“it seemed that the preacher gibbered “Big Thinks,” even as the Ape-man had done; or into some library, and there the intent faces over the books seemed but patient creatures waiting for prey.” (250)  To the fevered mind of Prendick God must have died on that island and science had killed him. Wells now takes the reader to the brink of real fear by asking a simple question. If Science has killed God and man evolved from the beast, are men not beasts? Here is the gripping fear. Civilization is just a façade it is merely the litany of the Law, a false set of beliefs that hold men back from their true inner desires.  Prendick finds the only inner peace that he can in contemplation of a God in which he no longer believes.

 

Wells, H. G. The Island of Dr. Moreau, Dover Thrift Editions. New York: Dover Publications, 1996.

 

 

The Freehold Investigates Vandalism in District 12 (Hunger Games)

The Freehold Investigates Vandalism in District 12 (Hunger Games)

 

The Hunger Games film has become one of the biggest blockbusters of the year. I happen to live just a few miles from the abandoned mill town of Henry River, North Carolina which was the site of “District Twelve” in the movie. In fact I often drive  through the town on my way home from work. So I have been familiar with this town for years. While the town has long been abandoned, it has also been well maintained. That maintenance is being challenged by a new force…..vandals.

The site has become a major tourist attraction in our area, and busloads of visitors have been showing up and touring the small town for months. The last few times I drove through the town I noticed some changes that are distressing.


For instance the general store which served as the bakery in The Hunger Games is slowly being stripped for souvenirs. One by one the letters on the front of the building have been stolen. This was not a simple one time theft. Each letter disappeared on a different day and I assume taken by different thieves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vandals have also been breaking windows on the side of the store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least, taggers are showing up leaving their distinctive scrawl on the historic buildings. These are just a few of the problems I can see from the road. I hate to think what has been destroyed or stolen from inside the houses. I will endeavor to bring you more on this situation as soon as I can get an interview with the owner or caretaker.

 

Please if you are a fan of this movie do not come to this town and decide to destroy portions of it or carry off souvenirs. It may just be a movie set to you but this is a Historic landmark as well.

 

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews L. Neil Smith

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews L. Neil Smith


 

 

 

L. Neil Smith is a writer, and libertarian political activist. He  is the founder of the Prometheus award for libertarian fiction and has written volumes of libertarian centered science fiction. He has also given us what I consider our most thought-provoking interview to date. It is my pleasure to bring you L. Neil Smith.

 

The Hitchhiker asks…

Question 1. You are the creator of the Prometheus award can you tell us why it was needed?

I’ve been a student of social and political change as long as I can
remember. One thing you learn from such a study right away is that
political change is impossible without social change, psychological
change, to prepare the path — and the best way to accomplish that is
to “concretize” the otherwise abstract future you want to create and
live in.

H.G. Wells and Edward Bellamy both understood this and used science
fiction to criticize their times and generate a realizable alternative
in the minds of their readers. There have been others. Both Arthur C.
Clarke and Robert Heinlein created believable, desirable universes,
although their motives weren’t quite as explicitly political. Ayn Rand
did it, too, but I don’t believe she knew she was writing science
fiction. One of the few absurdities she wrote was that the detective
novel — notably Mickey Spillane’s — was the last literature of
ideas.

Of course, as a lifelong science fiction reader, I knew better. So the
fundamental idea was simple: encourage writers to create new worlds in
which people are free to live their lives as they wish and to prosper
in that freedom. And the way to get that done was to offer a very
concrete award — solid gold — for doing that job best in any given
year.

Question 2. I love the Probability Broach. I especially love the graphic novel based on it. One of the reasons I find the probability Broach so intriguing is that I live in the South Mountain section of North Carolina. This area was in an undeclared war with the federal government from the time of the Whiskey rebellion until the late 1960s. Of course the Probability Broach hinges on the fact that the Whiskey Rebellion was won by the rebels in their timeline. Do you have any other fiction based in that universe?

There are several other novels in what I call the “North American
Confederacy” or the “Win Bear” series, although my German publishers
referred to it as the Gallatin universe, and that’s probably more
appropriate, since some of the books don’t involve Win Bear or occur
on Earth.

I’ve skipped around a bit, so, in the order in which they should be
read, they are _The Probability Broach_, _The American Zone_, _The
Venus Belt_, _Their Majesties’ Bucketeers_, _The Nagasaki Vector_,
_Tom Paine Maru_, _The Gallatin Divergence_, _Brightsuit MacBear_, and
_Taflak Lysandra_. There’s also a tiny bit of Confederate crossover in
_Forge of the Elders_, and some minimal connection with the _Roswell,
Texas_ universe in _The American Zone_.

All of these books are available now or are in the process of being
reprinted. Tor is about to make _TPB_ an electronic book at long last;
Phoenix Pick, which does most of my stuff has electronic versions
ready practically the same day the “dead tree” book cmes out. And of
course _TPB_, as you note, is available from BigHeadPress.com as a
webcomic or graphic novel.

Last, but far from least, Brian Wilson, the libertarian radio talk
show host has recorded an audio version of _The Nagasaki Vector_
— which some folks think is my funniest book, that can be had at a
modest price through CD Baby. There will be more if sales merit it.

Question 3. As one of the founders of Big Head Press do you think your message is reaching a younger audience by means of graphic novels and comic strips?

I’m not really a founder of BigHeadPress.com. That credit belongs to
Frank Bieser, the publisher, and Scott Bieser, the brilliant artist
who is also what we call the “HMFWIC”.

That said, BigHead was created,in the beginning, to make _The
Probability Broach_ into a graphic novel. That process took a long
time, and so they published _A Drug War Carol_ first, written by Scott
and Susan Wells. It has its own website and can be had as a dead tree
graphic, as well. One of the best bargains available today.

I’m not sure it was ever our purpose to reach younger readers in
particular. I’m happy to reach anybody who’ll listen — that is, read
our publications.

One problem the general freedom movement has — and which I’ve been
struggling to fix all throughout my career is that its various
“compartments” are too well insulated from one another. Today, for
example, we have libertarian supporters of Ron Paul, and Libertarian
Party members for Gary Johnson. We’ve got two flavors of Objectvist.
There are Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. We’ve got survivalists
and “preppers”. We’ve got hard money advocates and gun people. I’m not
sure how much they communicate with one another, but — given the
preparations the government seems to be making for a civil war — I
think it’s important that they do.

BigHeadPress and other efforts like it could become important conduits
for freedom-oriented ideas and communications within the various
sections of the movement. Hardline statists know that they’re in their
end-game, but there may still be time to deter them before it gets
really ugly.

Question 4. What does the future hold for you and your work? Are you working on anything new that may interest our readers?

What’s new? Well, the fun news is that _BrightSuit MacBear_ and
_Taflak Lysandra_ are about to be republished (I hope to sneak _Their
Majesties’ Bucketeers_ in there, somewhere, too) and will then be
followed by the five additional books I meant to write in that
sub-series. There could be two more _lamviin_ Mav and Mymy novels, as
well.

That’s in addition to _Blade of p’Na_, a prequel to _Forge of the
Elders_ that I’m almost done with, _Ares_, which will fit between
_Pallas_ and _Ceres_ (there will be two morein that series, as well,
called _Beautiful Dreamer_ and _Rosalie’s World_) and a new project
I’ve just taken on which I can’t fully discuss yet. Brian Wilson and I
are also working on an audio version of my nonfiction book, _Down With
Power: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis_.

Oh, yes, and I’m also doing work for LinePlot Productions on a sequel
to their animated movie _The Silver Circle_ which will be released
later this year.

And finally (so far), I used to be a professional musician, and I hope
to put together an album of the various songs I’ve written in the last
half century or so. The album will be called _Do Not Remove This Tag!”

Question 5. I know you are a libertarian activist can you tell us a little about what changes in American society you would like to see? As a rational (Heinlein) conservative I can see the appeal of libertarianism but I am of the opinion that a libertarian state as depicted in the Probability Broach or in Roswell Texas can only be sustained if the population has a certain educational level or educational “background” (that may be a more appropriate word). I believe this country has fallen below that level. Do you believe that is true or that we need a certain level/background at all to implement a libertarian society?

Whatever knowledge of history and human nature I’ve managed to acquire
over the years tells me that people will rise — or fall– to meet
your expectations of them.

The people who built this country — I’m not talking about the
Founders, here, but of ordinary people doing ordinary thngs every day — were not especially well-educated, but they knew which side their bread was buttered on. That’s the whole “secret” to a freer market and a free society. they weren’t always consistent, either, but they did create the most prosperous, peaceful, and progressive society that ever existed at any time, anyplace on Earth.

It was their “leaders” who undermined that and are in the process of deliberately destroying it. They dream of a new form of high-tech feudalism, a dream that must be shattered if freedom is to survive.

It’s presumptuous for you — or for anybody else — to think you know how much liberty people “deserve”, or are prepared to use in ways that you may think are “wise”. You have no such right. Nobody has. That’s as bad as the criminals, cretins, and crazies who think they have a
right to rule us now.

Look: the two hardest things in the world to learn, the two things
that make us genuine adults, the two things that many people — maybe even most people — never really manage to get through their thick collectivist skulls are these:

A. Other people are as real as you are.

B. You must learn to let go of their lives.

Instead of prescribing for others, ask yourself, instead, how much
liberty _you_ deserve and are prepared to use wisely. Otherwise, MYOB: mind your own business. If everybody did that, we could have a free society tomorrow.

And no, I don’t believe we need just a “little bit” of government
(that’s like a “little bit” of cancer), for example, to build the
roads.

Like Doc Brown said, “Where we’re going, we don’t _need_ roads

Thank you for doing this interview.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Michael Z. Williamson

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Michael Z. Williamson

This morning the Enquiring Hitchhiker brings you an interview with military science fiction writer Michael Z. Williamson or as some call him “Mad Mike”. Mr. Williamson was brought to my attention when this site came online because he had written a novel called Freehold. The reader who brought him to my attention thought we had named the site after that novel (actually we named the site for Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold).

 

The Hitchhiker asks…

Question 1. Our reader base runs from the ultra conservative right to the most anarchistic libertarian. Does your writing speak to any particular audience?

 

 

They’ll certainly like some of what I have to say, though the libertine social content of some of my cultures may be a bit eye opening. On the whole, though, I’m very much a determinist and unabashed supporter of the free market.

 

Question 2.You wrote your second novel with John Ringo, who we interviewed last month. From looking at your work and his you both seem to be type “A” personalities. Was it difficult working together?

 

 

Only a little. He handed me an outline and told me to have at it, then did some minor edits afterward. I did run into a snag needing some backstory, which he first told me to make up myself, then realized it was his universe. But there were no disputes over characters or major incidents.

 

Question 3. I get quite a bit of grief for my online avatar with me holding my .45 Ruger Vaquero. It has become something of a matter of pride to continue using it since it offends so many people I dislike. I don’t think I have seen a picture of you where you are not carrying a pistol or rifle of some sort. Do you get the same kind of response to your photos and does your interest in firearms help flesh out your stories?

 

 

No, my readers seem thrilled that I use, enjoy, and know about weapons. My daughter sometimes gets flack over her pictures with her pink M4 carbine, though, from age 7-14.

 

Question 4. What does the future hold for you and your work? Are you working on anything new that may interest our readers?

 

 

I’m hoping to shortly contract The Redneck Zombie Brigade, and a contemporary Holmes story, and an historical fantasy air combat story.

Question 5. Tell us a little about your political affiliation and beliefs.

 

 

I believe government is necessary. I also believe its necessary functions are few–defense, courts, certain infrastructure (an Interstate, for example, is pretty much impossible without eminent domain and large investment). Governments are supposed to help us live together in civility, not live our lives for us.

 

I could be wordier, but I think some things are best said short.

 

Mike

 

Thank you for the interview.

 

 

 

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews J. Neil Schulman

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews J. Neil Schulman

We had the pleasure to interview J. Neil Schulman last week. He is the author of the Novel Alongside Night and has twice won the Prometheus award for his work. Currently Mr. Schulman is working on a movie based on Alongside Night.

 

The Hitchhiker asks…

1. I have asked this of several authors and in your case I think this question is even more pertinent. Tell me about the influence Heinlein had over your work and life?

I wrote an entire book to answer this question: The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Heinleiniana (http://www.heinleiniana.com).

As I wrote in my introduction to that book:

In July of 1973, I was twenty and had been an avid fan
of Robert Heinlein for half my life. I don’t think it’s an
overstatement to say there’s a good chance that if he
hadn’t lived, I would’ve never made it to age twenty.
Teenage suicide is common, and my teenage years
were, to state it mildly, not good. If Robert Heinlein
hadn’t written the books he wrote, and I hadn’t read
them, I doubt very much that I would have had the
intellectual background necessary to climb out of the
hole I was in between the ages of fifteen and eighteen.

For most of my childhood, Heinlein represented everything
in my life that meant anything to me. He wrote
about futures that were worth living for. He wrote
about talented people who felt life was worth living,
and made it worth living, no matter what the breaks
that fell their way. His characters never had an easy
time of it, but they persevered.

And, boy oh boy, when you’re getting the shit kicked
out of you in half a dozen different ways, images like
that are sometimes the only thing between you and the
edge.

2. I was looking over your work and I noticed you wrote an episode of the Twilight zone that came out in the 1980’s “Profile in Silver”. I was 15 at the time that episode aired. I haven’t seen it since but it is almost as fresh in my mind as the day I saw it. The premise is about time travel and the prevention of the assassination of JFK. Just as speculation do you think time travel is possible and if so do you think we would recognize them even if they were among us?

I not only believe time travel is possible, I believe that time isn’t anything like what we think it is. Like Heinlein described in Between Planets, I believe there are multiple parallel continua and that we’re constantly slipping in and out of them. By the way, I wrote about this episode in another of my books: Profile in Silver and Other Screenwritings and blogged about it at http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2010/06/the-twilight-zone-profile-in-silver/

3. You list your political affiliation as “Limited Anarchist” how is that different than Libertarianism. Tell us a bit about your political philosophy?

This interview is quickly becoming links to fuller answers to these questions. My best summary is also on my blog here: http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2012/04/welcome-to-customer-service/

4. Your novel Alongside Night is about an economic collapse in the United States. It is my understanding that it is being made into a movie. Can you tell us a bit about the work itself and the movie being made from it?  ( This answer included Question 5. What are the current projects that you are working on?)

This is going to answer both question 4 and 5. I wrote the novel Alongside Night in the 70’s and it was published in 1979. It projected a future where the dollar had collapsed due to government overspending and monetizing its debts, causing a hyperinflationary crisis. We are now living in the objective economic conditions leading to that kind of crisis — again see my article at http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2012/04/welcome-to-customer-service/ — the last section titled “Yankruptcy: What is the tipping point when government overspending collapses the buying power of the dollar?”

I’ve written a screenplay adaptation of Alongside Night and I am currently in production as its writer/producer/director. We’re aiming for film-festival release by summer 2013. Full info is on the official movie website at http://www.alongsidenightmovie.com/.

In a follow up conversation Mr. Shulman informed the Hitchhiker that Ron Paul has endorsed Alongside Night the novel and he and he’s appearing as himself in the movie.

Thank you for the interview and we look forward to supporting your new Movie.