Category: Interviews

Interview: Godzilla Fan and Writer Armand Vaquer

Interview: Godzilla Fan and Writer Armand Vaquer

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With the new Godzilla film scorching up the box office and also proving to be a surprising critical hit as well, we thought this was a good time to consult an expert in the field. Armand Vaquer, author of The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide to Japan, has long been a fan of Godzilla and other Japanese giant monsters, and has been active in G-fandom for years. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about his time in fandom and shed some light on an often-misunderstood genre and fan subculture.

 

1.Thanks for granting us this interview Armand! Tell us a little first about your own history with Godzilla and your involvement with Japanese fantastic film fandom.
Well, the first time I saw Godzilla was in 1962 when Los Angeles station KHJ-TV Channel 9 ran “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!” one afternoon. I was playing outside on our front porch with a friend and his mother yelled from across the fence that Godzilla was coming on television. So he ran off. My mom was standing at the door and I asked her what Godzilla was and she told me that he’s a big dinosaur. That interested me, so I went in and watched it and was hooked. Then, a year later, several friends and I were taken by my parents to see “King Kong vs. Godzilla” at the theater. Funny thing, a few years before she died, my mom told me that they took me to the drive-in to see “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!” when I was two years old (that would be 1956). I have no memory of that.
I wrote for G-Fan magazine for nine years, mainly about landmarks and locations used in the movies. I also worked on different projects such as “Godzilla Week” in 2000, wrote Rick Dee’s narrative for the Godzilla float at the 2004 Hollywood Christmas Parade and the History of Godzilla speech for Johnny Grant for the Walk of Fame Dedication. The last two were at the request of Toho. I also organized the “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!” plaque at the former location of the studio where Raymond Burr was filmed. It is now an elementary school and the plaque is at the main entrance.
2.The term kaiju (like “steampunk”) gets frequently misinterpreted by those who are aware of the genre but unfamiliar with it; it frequently gets stretched and distorted to refer to any sort of giant monster film regardless of country of origin or any live-action science fiction film or TV show from Japan. For the benefit of our readers, can you explain the kaiju genre to them and how it should be distinguished from the broader genre of tokusatsu?
Well, tokusatsu generally means live-action special effects films of different genres shown on television or theatrically, including kaiju and super-heroes originating from Japan. Kaiju means literally strange creature. Daikaiju just means big strange creature.
3.You’re also the author of The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide to Japan. Tell us a little about this book, and how readers should use it.
The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide To Japan is a travel guide tailored to fans of kaiju movies (Godzilla, Gamera, etc.) to provide information on the locations and landmarks used in the movies and where they are, how to get there and what other attractions are nearby of interest. There’s some Ultraman places of interest as well in the book. Where available, I also included some accommodation places. It can be used either as a reference book on what locations and landmarks were used and what movies they appeared in. It is available in print form or as an ebook at Amazon’s Kindle Store. I will be publishing a revised second edition sometime next year. Work has already begun on it.
Many people have written to me that they found it very useful when they were on vacation in Japan.

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4. Our readers will undoubtedly be very interested to read about your lifelong political work as well; you’ve had quite a fascinating career! Have there been any interesting moments where your political and fan work coincided?
I was on three California national convention delegations for Ronald Reagan (1976, 1980 and 1984) and an area chairman for the Reagan campaigns. My political work tapered off when I got married and when my daughter was born. But the political contacts I have came in handy in getting the “Godzilla Week” and “Godzilla Month” proclamations through the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through. I’ve known Supervisor Michael Antonovich since the 1970s and worked with him on the proclamations. He’s a big fanboy himself, so it was easy to get his help.
I worked as a field representative to Assemblyman Paul T. Bannai, the first Japanese-American to be elected to the state legislature in California, back in the 1970s. Working with him and the Japanese community in the Gardena area was useful in learning how to work with Japanese people. I also learned press work while working for Bannai, which also came in handy in later years.

5. We’ll wrap up by asking you what are your future writing plans, and what sort of future do you see for Godzilla here in the Americas after the critical and commercial success of the new film? And thank you once again!
At present, I am just writing for my blog, Armand’s Rancho Del Cielo and contributing to Monster Island News and working on an updated The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide To Japan.

It appears that Godzilla is a hit and plans are in progress for a sequel. I am guessing that Godzilla as a franchise in America will last about 2-3 movies, provided they don’t muck it up. If they have engaging stories, interesting monster foes for Godzilla to fight and great special effects, the franchise should last several movies. Why not? This may also spur Toho to get back into the kaiju game again. But I think the days of suitmation may be over, or more limited in Japan. Toho demolished their Big Pool during the past ten years, so they will probably go the CGI route.
I think they should let Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. carry the “Godzilla ball” for now and concentrate on reviving their other monsters such as Rodan and Mothra with a combination of models, suits and CGI. Or come up with new monster characters.

Thanks Armand! You can check out Armand’s Rancho Del Cielo for informative updates on Godzilla fandom, California politics, and more, and order The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide to Japan from his website or at Amazon Kindle!

 

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author Sarah A. Hoyt

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author Sarah A. Hoyt

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The Enquiring Hitchhiker brings you an interview with Sarah A. Hoyt. She is the author of the award winning Darkship Thieves which won the Prometheus award in 2011.

Question 1 – You are a prolific writer in many different genres. Is it very hard to switch back and forth from historic romance, to fantasy, and then to science fiction?

It’s very, very difficult. I think I’d get bored if I did only one thing, but I could stand to kick back a little. Actually I haven’t done historic romance — not really. I did a novelization of the lives of Henry VIII queens, but I think in Romance you should lose your head in a different way . I do historical mystery as Sarah D’Almeida and I’m re-releasing my Musketeer mysteries, and will continue the series if indie sales warrant it. So, oh, yeah, kicking back not happening soon.

Question 2- You seem to write several blogs daily (I can barely keep up with reading them and I really enjoy your blogs) and you produce a massive amount of written work for novels, short stories etc besides. How do you keep the words flowing? Do you ever get writer’s block and if so how do you combat it?

Sometimes I face a black abyss. Weirdly, this happens most often in nonfiction. I’m trying very hard to do all my blogging — I owe Bill Quick blogs. And also Classical Values — on weekends, which leaves my mind in fiction-mode for the week. Hopefully. We’ll see how it works.

Question 3- Who are the writers that most influenced your work?

Robert A. Heinlein, Agatha Christie, Clifford Simak, Terry Pratchett, F. Paul Wilson — and for a different set Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Dumas. And for yet a different set Bradbury, Borges… I’m leaving so many out.

Question 4- You are originally from Portugal and you speak several languages, but from what I can tell you write mainly in English. Do you write anything for the Portuguese market? Is there a market for science fiction and fantasy in Portugal?

I write only in English. Even an extended period of reading in other languages will affect my English … fluency. Or at least the word choice and syntax. I can’t sell to the Portuguese market for love or money. It’s my dream to have my father read one of my Musketeer mysteries, but he doesn’t speak English and I’ve been unable to sell translation rights. In fact, the only translation rights I’ve sold are to Darkship Thieves, in Japanese.

Question 5- The last question we ask at the Freehold is always one about politics. These questions always get mixed reactions. Some writers refuse to answer so they will not disappoint fans who don’t agree with their views others are very open about them. You seem to be in the very open camp. Do you follow any one political philosophy and if not can you give us a short overview of what you believe politically?

 I think it would be very hard to have any fans who know of my science fiction unaware of where I stand politically and look, frankly? I read people who are progressives (Rex Stout and Heinlein at a time) and soft left (Pratchett) and I think if the left can’t pull up its big boy/girl pants and face it that there isn’t one “right” way to think and anyone who doesn’t think that way is a villain or stupid, we’re going to have to fight this out on the streets. Which I hope we aren’t. In fact, I know I have several leftist fans who roll their eyes at my politics. It’s good for them. I raise their blood pressure and thereby get them the benefit of exercise without the trouble. As for my politics, I’m a minarchist. I don’t believe in utopias. I don’t believe we can get by with NO government — not yet and not for a good long time — but humans being humans and not angels, government is a terrible power to entrust to any of them or any group of them. And so, I suggest we have a government and make it as powerless as possible. My beliefs track pretty closely with those enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and — with minor quibbles — in the constitution. For our present trouble, I think devolving a lot more power to the states and to the individuals would be salutary. Oops. Sorry. That’s not brief.

 Thank you for the interview and I look forward to seeing you again next year at Liberty Con in Chattanooga.

 

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews David Gerrold

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews David Gerrold

The Enquiring HitchhikerDavid Gerrold has long been on my personal list of the best science fiction authors. Other than Robert Heinlein, I doubt there is another writer who had more influence on me during my childhood. David Gerrold was not only the author of the classic Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles, he was also the creative force behind Land of the Lost. If you are a longtime reader of this site, you know I sing the praises of the that show whenever I get the chance. We even have an entire hour long podcast “showdown” explaining why it is superior in every way to the short lived Spielberg dinosaur abortion called Terra Nova… You can listen to the podcast here Prehistoric Hysteria. We are very privileged to bring you this interview.

The Hitchhiker asks…

Question 1. The Star Wolf series and Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda seem to have quite a few things in common. The Morthan Solidarity is very similar to the Nietzcheans. Did you have any input into that?

I have absolutely no information about Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. I never saw it or anything connected to it.

 

Question 2. Land of the Lost probably had more influence on me as a small child than anything else I watched. First I want to thank you for creating the show. Second I would like to know if many people tell you that this show influenced them? I became an archaeologist because of my interest in the Sleestaks and the Pakuni.

 

 I always appreciate hearing from people who watched Land Of The Lost as a kid — especially the notes about how the Sleestaks made them wet their pants. Several people have told me that they became interested in science because of my writing, but you’re the first archaeologist.

 

Question 3. Robert Heinlein seems to have been a major influence for your work and so many others. What do you think our modern world would look like without his influence?

Hard to imagine a world without Heinlein. His hard-science stories demonstrated such a clarity of thought that he may very well have been the most influential author of the 20th century. He wasn’t afraid to discuss ideas and possibilities in a way that made people aware that these were very real things. More than anyone else, I think Heinlein’s work made readers believe that space travel was not only possible, but inevitable.

 

 

 Question 4. I have been eagerly waiting for the next War Against the Chtorr novel. I believe that Jim McCarthy is one of the first non-heterosexual literary characters I encountered as a teen. In many ways my introduction to him shaped my first impression of all gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered people. Do you believe that positive literary examples have paved the way for the current LGBT social movement?

Positive literary examples are always the first step in changing the public perception of anything. Look at Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn and Puddinhead Wilson were subversive novels for their time. The most noble character in Huckleberry Finn is the slave, Jim. Just about everyone else is a scoundrel.

I don’t think there were very many positive LGBT characters in science fiction before the seventies. Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthology was a challenge to authors and one of the challenges was sexual issues.

My own book, The Man Who Folded Himself was the first SF novel with an openly gay hero and possibly the first mainstream novel with a positive ending for the gay hero. Instead of brickbats, it got award nominations. Ursula K. LeGuin’s Left Hand Of Darkness made it possible to think about transgender people and John Varley’s stories set on Luna often included gender-fluid characters. Joanna Russ won a Hugo for “When It Changed” which blew up the cliched idea of the planet of beautiful women.

Most readers seemed to welcome honest discussions of sexuality in SF worlds. But some were appalled and even today we still hear the occasional homophobic whine. But I think that SF not only predicted a wider acceptance of LGBT people, but that such predictions also helped turn the possibility into an inevitability.

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Question 5. We generally ask a political question. I realize that our site is mostly read by libertarians, but we have often given a forum to people who disagree. Can you give us a brief summation of what you believe and how libertarians can relate to your work even if you don’t relate to libertarian ideas?

My political views are very simple. Be kind to everyone, whether they deserve it or not — or at least until your threshold of bullshit is overwhelmed. Take care of the children, educate them well. Feed the poor, heal the sick, honor the elderly, because that’s how you pay it forward.

The mechanics of living that philosophy are left as an exercise for the reader.

Thank you for taking time out to do this interview. I really appreciate the work you have done in the science fiction genre.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author C.J. Cherryh

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author C.J. Cherryh

The Enquiring HitchhikerThe Enquiring Hitchhiker is proud to bring you this interview with multiple Hugo award winning Author C.J. Cherryh.

1. I discovered your writing in 1985 with the publication of Cuckoo’s Egg. I really loved the detail you put into the world building, and “fish out of water” stories are my favorite type of fiction. Where do you find your inspiration for these unique cultures?


I’m a linguistics major with a specialty in Roman Law and Bronze Age Greece, and I’ve knocked around the world quite a bit—been IN that position a lot.

2. At the time you first started submitting your work, science fiction was a very male-dominated genre. What was it like being a female in such a testosterone-laden club?

No problem at all. The very earliest meetings in the Ivory Tower in NYC were co-ed, and the field always has been. I found absolutely no problem except reader and reviewer assumptions that because I was female, I’d be writing fantasy.

3. While I agree with what I have read you have said about grouping science fiction and fantasy into one category, why do you think that hard science fiction tales are lagging behind tales with more of a fantasy/horror orientation?

They’re harder to write when science is nipping hard at our heels. And we lost the businessman with the sf novel in his briefcase when we lost Heinlein and Asimov and the industry simultaneously lost Don Wollheim, Lester del Rey, and other editors with hard sf experience. At the very time the industry should have been promoting new ‘hard science’ writers—it was reeling from purchase by oil companies and the stupid decision (Thor Tool) that equated books with other goods in warehouse.

4. The future belongs to those who show up. I seem to see a very disturbing trend in the science fiction community towards fiction that depicts the human race as either degenerate or not worthy of inheriting the future. What happened to the optimism of the genre?


Not lacking in me. I think it’s education that’s let people down—and a push for ‘individual survival.’ Industry takes multiple people, and technology takes multiple industries. The largest sort of organization is what we need, not fragmentation. There’s nothing going on with the climate or anything else we can’t address technologically, but the people grabbing media attention are trying to get the deniers to get their heads out of the sand and waaaay overdoing it in scaring the rest of the public into believing we can’t solve this. We certainly can—but not if we each retreat into our bunkers.

5. The Freehold as a publication is dominated by a libertarian ideology, so we often like to gauge the political leanings of the people we interview. What are your political beliefs, and how do you see your beliefs affecting the future?

I don’t discuss those, out of respect to my readers, who have their own. I am pro-technology but no believer that corporations are always right, pro-history but do not believe it has to repeat unless through stupidity, pro-magic but not magical thinking, pro many things but not pro-abandonment-of-responsibility, and I hold so many opinions on both sides of so many lines I’m not comfortable advocating any single party as right, since none are entirely right.

Thank you for the interview, and I hope to meet you in person at a convention soon.

Interview: Silent Film Historian Steve Joyce

Interview: Silent Film Historian Steve Joyce

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If you’ve been around the Internet long enough, you quickly learn that every genre and era of the cinema has its fans, and if you’re curious enough to read up on them, you learn to appreciate just why they have gained their adherents. For those curious about fantastic cinema of the silent era, an indispensable new book, American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929, provides what is not just to date the most comprehensive collection of original reviews of American films of this particular genre and time period, but a fascinating journey into the film-making and -watching culture of a century ago. Four authors, John T. Soister, Henry Nicolella, Steve Joyce and Harry H. Long, along with researcher and archivist Bill Chase, undertook this massive project, and they were recently rewarded for their efforts with an Honorable Mention from the Rondo Awards, chosen by the on-line community of classic horror fans worldwide. We spoke with co-author Steve Joyce about the book and science fiction films of the silent era in general.

1. Thanks granting us this interview, Steve! In the preface to the book, you and your fellow authors discuss your own personal relationships with fantastic films of the silent era, and how you grew interested in them. While science fiction and horror films of every decade of the sound era enjoy fan followings of their own, they all consist largely of people who grew up with them either during the time they were first released to theaters, or distributed to television. How did your own fascination with the genre films of the silent era develop, and do you find that most other fans come upon their interest in a similar way?

Thank you, Andrew. I’m flattered and honored that you approached me to do this. It was a pleasure working with John, Henry, Harry and Bill who all brought their own unique perspectives and backgrounds to the table.

I watched my fair share of 50s sci fi growing up but not a whole lot more than the average kid. So, no, I’d have to say that my interests didn’t quite develop like many of my fellow Baby Boomers. While most of today’s long-time diehards seem to have had their awareness in vintage genre movies aroused by Forest J. Ackerman and the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland, I was blithely passing Famous Monsters by on my merry way over to the comic book rack.

My fondness for comics gradually gave way to the adventures of Tom Swift, Jr., then “juvenile” s. f. novels and finally to the more “serious” stuff by Heinlein, Wells, Ellison, Dick, Silverberg, Bester, Brunner and others. As I think about it, I suppose exploring “what came before” always tickled my fancy. When I found out about Tom Swift, Senior and all of those Golden Age superheroes, well, both events were just about the coolest thing back then. Really only once vhs – and its associated instant availability – came into vogue did I finally shift genre gears media-wise. That was kicked off by a viewing of Metropolis back in the 80s.

By the way, I find one thing kind of amazing. Even though about 80% of all silents are lost – the viewer of today probably can see as much or more in practical terms than the actual theatergoers of last century’s first few decades ever managed. Showings came into town and left. That was it; there was almost always no second chance. Somehow, over the last 25 odd years, I’ve managed to amass at least some digital footage from close to 150 silent films that could be arguably classified science fiction and all viewable on a whim. You might say that we’re living in the second golden age of silent film.

2. When I interviewed our mutual friend David Sindelar, we discussed how the advent of both the Internet and DVD had changed both viewing habits and access to movies. Today, movies that were once just footnotes in the Don Willis, Walt Lee or Phil Hardy books can be easily accessed on YouTube, and companies such as Kino have put out DVDs of silent classics, as fully restored as they will ever be, at their normal speed and in close to pristine condition. How else have advances in technology improved the silent film viewing experience?

Indeed! Dave and I often swapped tapes way back when. We both still might have video boxes that by rights should’ve long ago qualified for frequent flyer miles! These days we’d more than likely exchange via Rapidshare. So, cyber-networking with like-minded aficionados is a great way to track down the more obscure titles. Plus, via software downloaded to their home p.c., more and more enterprising enthusiasts are willing and able to add title card translations and/or music to their movie computer files. Both are, needless to say, important aspects when it comes to silents.

To take the conversation slightly off point, the internet also provides some incredible tools to recreate a lost film’s “experience”… if not literally, in the mind’s eye. AbeBooks, Alibris and other online used book suppliers yield some nice (and often pleasantly inexpensive) source novels, plays and the like. Every day, new vintage newspapers and film trade journals go online and with them an abundance of plot summaries, reviews, cast listings, etc. Rare stills and lobby cards can be had with a few Ebay clicks (and only with sufficient bankroll, unfortunately). A visit to the Library of Congress website begins the fairly easy process of obtaining copyright records. The list goes on and on.

3. Although you and your co-authors focus specifically on American fantastic film of the silent era, much of the great and innovative work was done in Europe. How did American films differ from their European cousins and conversely, how did they influence each other?

Let’s start off with one caveat. Russian films essentially need to be put off to the side insofar as one major distinction; they generally came with heavy-handed Soviet messages placed into just about everything.

Beyond that, both American and European features were culturally significant in their own way. We can only talk in generalizations, but with that stipulated, American genre films struck the more mainstream pop culture chord in their methods be it in plot, dialogue or whatever. They even dabbled in the schlock of 3D and offered name-that-film contests. On the other hand, the Europeans leaned toward achieving, for lack of better phraseology, a higher art form or “culture” with a capital “C”, if you will. To defend the American approach a bit, it might be considered more genuinely representative of everyday life and the typical person walking down the street.

Pictures from the States tended to aim for the spectacular while the Europeans usually looked wherever they could for subtlety and finesse. Even Metropolis – visual spectacle that it was – gave us the delicate scenes where Maria roams the catacombs’ shadows and the well-framed and executed Moloch Machine sequence. In the book’s entry on Cecile B. DeMille’s The Road to Yesterday – a time travel fantasy akin to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – we briefly touched on one particularly key scene and compared it to a similar one in Germany’s Hands of Orlac. DeMille’s goal was to induce awe by replicating a believably looking train wreck. In contrast, Robert Weine leveraged the skill of his crew to present Orlac’s accident as an eerily lit montage via the locomotive’s front headlight.

Film was a more international animal back then by its very nature. It was a simple matter to translate a few title cards, splice them in anew and send prints all over the world. I get a big perverse kick out of one anecdote concerning The Battle Cry of Peace which we also cover. It’s a pre-WWI alternate history picture preaching preparedness against a Ruritanian (read German) invasion. Long story short, the Germans got hold of a print and changed it into their own propaganda piece!

Naturally, a migration of talent took place between both continents and, thus, there was cross-pollination; but, the mute nature of cinema years ago made it especially easy for actors to move back and forth. Two genre luminaries that come immediately to mind are Conrad Veidt and Paul Wegener; and, if I can take a moment here, I’d like to announce an upcoming book covering Wegener’s fantastika by my friends and colleagues, John Soister and Henry Nicolella. They’ve let me preview the manuscript and it’s awesome.

4. Science fiction film, as a genre, existed well before it was named or defined as such. In fact, the coining of the term by Hugo Gernsback coincides with the beginning of the sound era in film. How did the early precursors of science fiction literature influence the development of its cinematic counterpart and conversely, did the cinema have any affect on development of the written genre?

Believe it or not, by sheer coincidence, I recently stumbled across a passage by one William Wilson defining “Science-Fiction” back in 1851! There’s always something that “came before”! But yes, Gernsback popularized the term and this is an excellent question.

Basically, there’s always been a strong interaction between science fiction literature and film. Let’s start right from the get go with George Melies’ 1902 A Trip to the Moon. Clearly, Melies lifted the space gun from Verne and the Selenites from Wells. He even went farther than that. In select exhibitions of his short film, a narrative crafted by Melies would be read out loud. In that narrative, Melies gave his astronauts such names as “Alcofrisbas” (in tribute to Alcofrisbas Nasier a.k.a. Francois Rabelais, a 16th century fantasy writer), “Micromegas” (after a space-travelling character of Voltaire’s), “Omega” (likely in homage to any number of 19th century last man on earth novels), etc. The Father of Science Fiction Film definitely was well versed in the genesis of his genre…even if he didn’t exactly know it by name!

Of course, A Trip to the Moon was fraught with light-hearted trick effects and most of the sci fi shorts of the remainder of the decade played merely for amusement and comedy as well. Films like L’Homme Invisible (1909) and Melies’ own 200,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1907) scarcely followed the plots of their sources. Maybe the first s.f. films to seriously zero in on their written brethren were the trio of films by the Brit, Walter Booth: Aerial Torpedo (1908), Aerial Submarine (1910) and Aerial Anarchists (1911). All three channeled the ideas put forth in Fawcett’s Hartmann the Anarchist, Verne’s Master of the World and Wells’ War in the Air. Oh, an aerial torpedo is better known these days as a guided missile by the way.

Once the teens rolled around, quite a number of heavy hitting s.f. stories began getting (more or less) faithful treatment…several more than once. To name just some there’s First Men in the Moon, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916 style) and Mysterious Island, Frankenstein, Connecticut Yankee, The Lost World, Renard’s The Hands of Orlac and Gaston (“Phantom of the Opera”) Leroux’s Balaoo. Maybe the king of them all is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In my opinion, I don’t think anyone will ever completely determine how many silent adaptations of that particular title were made; but, including burlesques, the count is somewhere around 20 with a whopping 6 in 1920 alone. Even some really putrid potboilers made it to the moving picture screen. Fair warning: don’t ever try to read The Diamond From the Sky!

I’d say the flow in the other direction was not nearly as pronounced….or maybe it’s just plain harder to determine. Sure, there were occasional movie tie-in fictionalizations in Moving Picture Stories Magazine and other publications … and I don’t know how to classify some of Thea Von Harbou’s output … but, speaking in broad terms, there were more quality films made from quality literature than visa versa. That’s pretty much still the case today. What did typically happen is that both forms – again like today – concurrently (give or take) picked up on the scientific trends and speculation of the time. This led to examination of such themes as evolution, death rays (o.k., they were hoaxes but the hoaxes were real), the “monkey gland” and Steinach methods of rejuvenation (a lot of people got taken in there too), futuristic warfare, artificial diamond manufacturing (believe it or not, once a biggie), the problems and solutions concerning trans-oceanic travel, outer space journeys, visitors from other planets, television, radio and wireless based just about anything you could imagine, mechanical men before the term “robot” was even invented, and so on and so on.

5. Much has been written about how social concerns and anxieties of the 1950s and 1970s heavily weighed upon the science fiction films of those eras. Did the social and political climate of the 1910s and 1920s exert a similar effect upon the science fiction films of that era, or did the films mostly shy away from overt or even implicit social commentary in favor of escapism?

Well, there was more censorship back then implying some film-makers were trying to push the envelope. Often viewers in one state would see slightly less footage than in a neighboring one due to some local official’s ready scissors. It was easy enough to cut out offending frames without worrying about dialogue on a soundtrack and those offences many times depended merely upon the individual sensibilities of a select few. I’ve seen a copy of the New York censorship records of the silent version of the British import, High Treason and the handling of its pacifistic viewpoint was considered almost obscene, as I remember.

When you mention the 1950s, I think of Invasion of the Body Snatchers capturing the air of paranoia of the day. Similarly, there was a cycle of rejuvenation films in the 20s that very much captured the hoped-for youthful exuberance of those roaring days. Clara Bow, the It Girl herself, played a flapper in one of them. Likewise, after the Great War, the fantasy of reincarnation definitely tapped into the mass sadness caused by the loss of loved ones.

Speaking of the war, before the U.S. ever entered it, there was a rash of alternate history preparedness / cautionary tales; we already discussed Battle Cry of Peace but there were others too. On the flip side, Thomas Ince’s Civilization was a pacifist statement hoping to avoid further bloodshed. Things were polarized, to say the least.

Even going back to the one and two reelers, women’s suffrage was another topic sometimes addressed; these attempts usually involved one variation or the other of a female controlled world and were handled with satirical humor…. I don’t imagine many of the lady folk were too happy with that. The Last Man on Earth is a feature that we covered with that very theme and tone.

Darwinism pushed even more buttons back then than it does now. I recall researching a silly little 1919 exploitation of the subject called A Scream in the Night. One reviewer really got himself into quite the uproar over it.


6. Despite much notable and innovative work, there wouldn’t really be a science fiction boom until the 1950s, and although the genre and its idioms were a frequent subject for the film serials (more often than not, adapted from comics), there wasn’t much in the way of science fiction features being produced in America during the 1930s and 1940s. What accounts for this drop-off, right when the genre was starting to take off in the pulps?

Tough one, actually. I don’t think that the 40s yielded anything that should legitimately be placed on anyone’s top 100 list after you, maybe, get past Dr. Cyclops (1940). The whole decade seemed to have a lot less creativity and most of it can be discounted easily enough because of the impact and aftermath of WW II.

When it comes to the 30s, things get more dicey. Let’s look at economics first. The pulps were – by their very definition – just about the cheapest form of entertainment to produce; so, in theory, that would account for part of the difference. Yet paradoxically, during the Great Depression when money was tightest, people flocked to the theaters to forget their troubles. So – pretty much – there goes that idea.

The 30s also brought in the talkies and, with it, growing pains. I think it’s fair to speculate that had some impact. If you look at foreign product, the studios initially fought through the new-found language barrier by producing multilingual science fiction releases such as Der/Le (and Transatlantic) Tunnel, Gold/L’or, three different language versions of Brigette Helm in Atlantis and 3 others adapting Curt Siodmak’s FP-1. For some reason, American studios passed on that strategy. Perhaps the inability to find polyglot actors held them back. Or perhaps they felt – at least, in the beginning – that sound technology was lacking and hiding microphones in the proverbial “potted plants” didn’t quite jibe with the special effects required.

Then too, every genre suffers from ups and downs and horror films were then on the rise. Many of the film titles that roll off the tongue from that era were more a Science Fiction / Horror combo than anything: Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, The Invisible Man, King Kong. I’d have to dig down deep and come up with a couple of little-known gems, Men Must Fight and Deluge, as the best pure representatives of 30s American science fiction on film. And…let’s just forget about Just Imagine, shall we?

7. Actually, I kind of liked Just Imagine. Read into that what you will! 🙂 Finally, although our readers may be familiar with such films as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or George Melies Une Voyage Dans La Lune, what are some of the other silent science fiction films you think are especially worthy of rediscovery and you’d recommend to someone just starting to venture into this wonderful cinematic world?

Andrew, you just opened up Pandora’s Box! My compulsions force me to give a long-winded three-tiered response since I’m keeping my fingers crossed that once enticed, many will want to delve further. Here goes…

(1) Films available on easily obtainable quality DVDs:

– you couldn’t go wrong with any of Fritz Lang’s silent fantastic films but for pure Science Fiction there’s Woman in the Moon. Insist on getting the complete version.
– It’s also hard to go wrong with checking out more by Melies. Voyage a Travers l’Impossible, and Conquête du pôle are in the tradition of Le Voyage dans la lune. La Photographie Electique a Distance is a personal favorite. They might be a good start.
– Conrad Veidt in Orlacs Hände (The Hands of Orlac)
– Barrymore in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
– Rene Clair’s Paris Qui Dort
Le joueur d’échecs a.k.a. The Chess Player is marginal s.f. but such a delightful film on many levels.
Himmelskibet (1916) is an interesting early look at space travel as well as being quite the message movie. You can only get it from the Danish Film Institute in European DVD format. They do ship to the States and it does have English subs. It comes packaged with another Danish s.f. silent called Verdens undergang (a.k.a. The End of the World).
Aelita, Queen of Mars: more foreign space travel…this time from Russia and with a propaganda flavor as well as a bevy of Martian robots.
– I’ve always found Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea just a little bit ponderous but others might disagree. The underwater cinematography is groundbreaking.
– Last but not least, one of the all-but-complete restorations of The Lost World is absolutely essential.
Go for either the David Shepard Image DVD or the George Eastman House version that comes as an added bonus to the Irwin Allen take on the story.

That should provide a solid sampling. Shorts are – except for Melies – excluded since they’re generally sprinkled on compilations and it would be expensive to pursue them that way. In any event, a lot of them pop-up online.

(2) Worthwhile films available in lesser quality via grey-market DVD vendors, thru the trade grapevine or online:

L’uomo Meccanica (a.k.a. The Mechanical Man) and Saturnino Farandola, although now extant in fragments only, are totally zany fun. Abel Gance’s complete La Fin du Monde is a visual masterpiece and deserving of the effort to locate it…but, unlike the vastly inferior Americanized truncation is not really silent. If you ask me, Algol and L’Inhumaine are very under-appreciated and also worth the effort. Mysterious Island has mysteriously never officially been released in video form but it’s out there too. We’ve already mentioned High Treason

As for the shorts, two come to mind for historical significance: The X-Ray Fiend from 1897 might just be the true first cinematic science fiction and Aerial Torpedo as we already talked about (look for this second one under its various names). Edison’s Frankenstein has some nice touches. Or how about Gance again and La Folie du Docteur Tube? Anything from Segundo de Chomón’s s.f. oeuvre would round things out.

(3)Films that should be available!

There are still reels and reels of film sitting in archives that have yet to see the light of day. The complete Exploits of Elaine, a serial starring the famed Pearl White and featuring ominously destructive infra-red rays, a gizmo to revive the dead, a Jekyll-and-Hyde-like villain and full of pseudo-scientific gadgetry, is all a vintage sci fi geek could ask for…and yet it still eludes the masses! And …that’s despite the film’s status on the National Film Registry. “Elaine” is just one example. Perhaps readers of these words will one day join us in clamoring for it and other films like it to be released from captivity.

Anyway, now’s the time to stumble back down off of the soap box and thank you again for your interest. Stay well, Andrew…

Will do Steve! In the meantime, you can purchase American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929 at Amazon or preview it at Google!

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Captain Capitalism, Aaron Clarey

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Captain Capitalism, Aaron Clarey

The Enquiring HitchhikerI discovered Aaron Clarey’s work when I watched this you tube video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO5Gayz4NNw

The video intrigued and and I purchased his book “Enjoy the Decline”.  I don’t agree with everything Aaron has to say in the book but I do believe he is on the right track when he says that we have to modify our thinking about this country and to modify our behavior to match this new reality.  We have rarely interviewed people outside the speculative fiction community for this site but I believe Captain Capitalism has something important to say about the future of this nation and the fortunes of our readers.

 

Question 1. You are really down on education in the book and in your videos unless it is something useful like a trade school, engineering, or math. If the economy is going to collapse under the weight of the parasite class does it really matter what you get the degree in as long as you are having fun doing it?

 

Yes, for two reasons. 1. A STEM degree will provide you at least SOME skills in a post-collapse society/economy. Just because the economy collapsed doesn’t mean people will no longer demand electricity, surgeons and other skills that they do today. If anything your skill set will probably be in more demand since you’re one of the few people who can “repair or rebuild” society. 2. Why would you waste your time and money today on classes that you “like” when 99.9% of those classes can be self-taught at the library? Whether there’s an economic collapse or not, all you managed to achieve was wasting your time and money. You would be better served taking that money and instead of spending it on tuition buy a tool set or some silver pieces.

 

Question 2. I am not quite as pessimistic as you are. The 2012 election seems to have been your breaking point in regards to salvaging our society (mine is 2016). Do you believe there is no chance at this point for productive Americans to pull us back from the brink?

 

No, no chance. When you have such a veritable and spectacular failure like Barack Obama get re-elected then it proves the electorate is too far gone, too far stupid, and too far ignorant to ever come back without serious economic pain. It is my firm belief that all 310 million Americans need to suffer economic strife and misery, AND for a long enough time they are forced to think through the basic principles of economics and their own ideologies. Until that happens the left (and the established political class right) will continue to borrow money from foreigners and the future to bribe these idiots into voting for them, shielding them from their own mistakes.

 

Question 3. What do you think of the current Libertarian ideology that is sweeping through the grassroots of the Republican Party? Do you think Rand Paul has a chance of winning the presidency in 2016?

 

No, the establishment Republicans will ensure their nepotists and cronyists will continue to maintain control. Good lord, Jeb Bush is aiming to run for president and the people in the Republican party can’t figure out why that might be a bad idea. The Libertarians need to not only take over the Republican party, but kick every corrupt, nepotist and trust funder out of the party.

 

Question 4. I want to enjoy the decline but I have one stumbling block. I cannot stand the smug superiority of the left. In my opinion there are only two kinds of leftists. Devils and Dupes. The Devils know they are destroying the country and think that they will be on top of the new order and the dupes are just too stupid to realize what they are doing. How do you now get angry with these people?

 

Oh, I get angry, I just don’t let it get to me. In the last chapter of “Enjoy the Decline” I title it “Revenge” in that it shows people how to enjoy the misery of people on the left. And if you look at people on the left, they ARE miserable. No matter how much of other people’s money they get, they STILL have to beg and plead for more because they are not independent. No matter how many fake awards and titles they give themselves, they never achieve anything. And arguably the worst thing for leftists is how they destroy the best thing they can possibly have in life – a loved one. Leftists women want to be men and leftist men want to be women. I say it not to take a cheap shot, but HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT LEFTIST PEOPLE LOOK LIKE??? They’re ugly as sin. Liberal women get to date weak effeminate men (mostly) and liberal men get to date women that are the furthest thing from “feminine.” Their love lives are impaired. In short leftists (the dupes as you call them) are living in a delusional world and when it doesn’t jive with reality, there is a price to pay, namely a lesser life.

 

Question 5. We really like to discuss the specifics of independent publishing here on the Freehold. Several of the authors we have interviewed started their careers publishing independently before they began working for one of the big publishing houses. Can you tell us a little about your philosophy of indy publishing?

 

It’s the only way to go. No traditional publisher is ever going to consider you unless you do 1 of 2 things.

 

1. Write books independently and gain enough notoriety they want to sign you up.

2. Are related to somebody in the east coast publishing business.

 

Sadly, the traditional publishing industry is a cesspool of nepotists, trust fund kids, and English majors with connections. This means networking and genetics will get you published, not good writing. So you have to self-publish to the point you can’t be ignored. Of course by that time you probably won’t need traditional publishers. If you have a large enough internet presence you won’t need a traditional publishers paltry 5% cut with a whopping $20,000 signing fee. You have Amazon’s 70% cut, Kindle’s 70% cut and Kobo’s 70% cut. In short, the publishing industry I believe is in revolution and at the end of it the traditional publishing houses will be marginalized to a dinosaur niche of the market serving the aging generations who insist on going to a book store and holding a physical book. The remaining 95% of the market belongs to self-publishing and digital readers.

Thank you for the interview Captain Capitalism.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author Larry Correia

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author Larry Correia

The Enquiring Hitchhiker

This week the Enquiring Hitchhiker is proud to bring you the New York Times bestselling author of the Monster Hunter series Larry Correia…

 

Question 1. You broke into writing by self publishing your first book. How did you market the novel and what experiences positive and negative did you have with that first book?

 

After getting rejected everywhere I decided to self publish. Since I was already well known in the internet gun community, I concentrated my efforts there. Specifically on a couple of gun forums, including one that I’d been a moderator on for a really long time. I posted some free online fiction serials (that way people could see that I could actually write) and then I put in extra gun stuff to appeal to my target audience.

 

It blew up huge. Then a big independent bookstore (Uncle Hugos) picked it up, and then my little self published book wound up on national bestseller list (Entertainment Weekly). Then I was picked up by Baen and I’ve been there ever since.

 

Question 2 . What is your advice to our readers if they are trying to make it in self publishing?

 

Don’t do it unless you are a self promoting son of a gun. With the state of the industry now and the ease of e-publishing, you need to differentiate yourself from a whole lot of competition. You need to be a really good writer, tell a really good story, and figure out how to get it in front of your target audience.

 

I always tell aspiring writers that there are really only two steps to having a successful writing career. 1. Get good enough that people will give you money for your stuff. 2. Find the people who will give you money for your stuff. Self publishing isn’t any different.

 

Question 3. One of the things I find refreshing about you books is that you write about killing monsters. I am a huge fan of the old Hammer monster flicks from the 60s and 70s and I am so tired of the misunderstood vampire and all the angst ridden BS that comes with it. What is your take on the current state of fantasy/horror fiction genre?

 

I think that a lot of monster fans have gotten incredibly bored as the romantic misunderstood sexy vampires took over. There is a big market for urban fantasy and horror with actual real bad monsters. I think a big part of my success is because of the timing of the anti-Twilight backlash. We want our monsters to be monstrous. We don’t want monsters that want to date you, we want monsters that want to eat you. If a monster is sexy, it should only be because that is how it attracts it prey like a lantern fish or something. People are sick of this wussification of our monsters.

 

 

 

Question 4. Your work contains many Lovecraftian elements however they seem to be much more over the top than anything Lovecraft wrote and your heroes seem to have a much better grasp on their sanity. Do you think that our society has become accustomed to the idea of monsters, aliens, and other horrors? For instance I have friends who are preparing for the zombie apocalypse as we speak.

 

Those are good friends to have.

 

Serious answer, I love and grew up on Lovecraft. However, most Lovecraft stories are well mannered New Englanders telling each other stories and getting scared of noises in the dark. Now as much as I enjoy that, it simply isn’t my writing style. I’m an action adventure pulp writer masquerading as an urban fantasy author.

 

Plus, my audience tends to not be the “victim” type. They don’t want to read about the people who scream, and run, and get eaten, but rather those that take care of business. This has worked out really well for me.

 

Question 5. Your books are noted for their accurate depictions of firearms and tactics. I have also read the article you wrote about gun control. We always ask one political question but you covered your anti-gun control feelings so well in the article I think I will merely ask what are your current thoughts on the state of this nation?

 

I think we are in a bad place, with people clamoring for a government big enough to take care of everything, but not realizing that a government big enough to do everything is also big enough to take everything away. I think that America is at a crossroads, with more and more people realizing how endangered our freedoms are.

 

Thank you for the Interview and we look forward to seeing more from the Monster Hunter Nation.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Chad Byers of the World of the Weird Monster Show

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Chad Byers of the World of the Weird Monster Show

The Enquiring HitchhikerThis week The Enquiring Hitchhiker interviews Chad Byers who is better known as Undead Johnny the host of World of the Weird Monster Show.

The World of the Weird Monster Show is a horror host/sketch comedy show that premiered on Halloween Night 2004. It airs on Comcast Cable in Chicagoland as well as on The Monster Channel (monsterchannel.tv) The show is currently on hiatus on The Monster Channel but will be back soon with all new shows showcasing up and coming independent film makers featuring some of the best new horror short films being made today. The World of the Weird Monster Show also does a Live Show on the Second Friday of every month at the Wilmette Theatre in Chicagoland where they present and shadowcast the ultimate cult film of all time, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Chicago Sun-Times called The World of the Weird Monster Show “a sketch comedy/horror show that could be likened to SCTV and Son of Svengoolie having a mutant offspring together.”

The Hitchhiker asks…

Question 1. How did you get into the horror host business in the first place?

1. Horror Hosts had a huge influence on me growing up in Rockford, Illinios. As a kid I watched Svengoolie (then Son of Svengoolie) from right here in Chicago as well as Rockford’s own Uncle Don’s Terror Theater. And of course Elvira, Commander USA, and Joe Bob Briggs over syndication. I would be a totally different person if I hadn’t been exposed to those movies as a child. Everything from the Universal and Hammer classics to the AIP films to grade Z monster movies….I loved them all. It was a wonderful introduction to film in general and film of all types (color, black and white, foreign, old and new) and just gave me a place to go where my imagination could run wild. Later in life, I had an encounter with William Shatner that really inspired me and thru a series of events, The World of the Weird Monster Show is what came from that inspiration. We premiered on Halloween night 2004 and have been going ever since. It’s a great way to share my love of these types of films and this subject matter with other people as well as a great creative outlet for myself. And it’s been wonderful. The World of the Weird Monster Show has led to so many magical and memorable moments in my life.

Question 2. My favorite episode of World of the Weird Monster Show has to be the one where you parodied Mystery Inc. What is your favorite?

2. Well, I’m a huge Scooby Doo fan so I love the Mystery, Inc spoofs so thanks for saying so. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I do have a soft spot for our first Christmas Special. To me it’s exactly what I want a Christmas special to be. I also have enjoyed the three or four El Santo episodes we’ve done as those are just plain goofy and ridiculously silly and over the top. Probably our best episode was the one we made for “Horror at Party Beach.” Where we infiltrated the studio of one of our fake ‘shows within a show’ “The Geek Fantasy Hour.” But my personal favorite? I don’t know. Maybe our “Night Train to Terror” episode. Or our HP Lovecraft tribute, “Pardon me, is that a shuggoth in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

Question 3. Do you script most of the shows or are they largely improv?

3. The shows are scripted. Pretty much 100%. Once we get on the set, we all definitely play with the words a bit. And we’ll go thru each sketch a few times before shooting and we’ll maybe drop a line here, add a line there. Change some stuff. So there is some improv, but not too much. We use the script as a firm structure, but everyone contributes while we’re shooting.

Question 4. I have to ask about Dementia. I will be honest and tell you that she is the reason I first started watching World of the Weird monster show. Why did she leave the show? Will she ever return for a cameo?

4. Dementia was great (and still is great!) Dementia left the show in the middle of the 5th season. She was a favorite of so many viewers and I think she was definitely one of the reasons for the show’s success. The Dementia and Johnny characters just worked very well together and a lot of that came from the friendship between her and I in real life. She left on the best of terms after four years and five seasons of being on the show. We definitely hope to have her back at some point…maybe a cameo, maybe a whole episode. We’ll see. It’s brought up now and again.

Question 5. Most people hate to discuss their politics in public for fear of alienating parts of their audience, and your show never seems to get political beyond the politics of Viseria, so I will simply ask do you think the country is heading in the right direction?

5. That’s a hard question to answer. I mean, I feel as if there are many things wrong with the country for sure. And our political system. But on the other hand we have a President speaking out for same sex marriage in his inaugural speech and so many states have passed laws for marriage equality. You know? So many things are going right, and are better than ever before, but yet, I can turn on the news and hear a politician….someone who obviously had the people’s support in his area to get elected…blatantly not know something like how a woman’s body works. You hear terrifyingly hateful speeches from public officials and from the American public itself all the time. It can be frightening. But there is always hope. And I think we can be better.

All that being said, I have to say that I don’t think that just because someone is in the public eye (even in such a small way as us) that they automatically need to start talking about where they stand on every topic under the sun. Nor do I think we the public should really care what, for example, our favorite action hero has to say about gun control. The cult of celebrity in this country is ridiculous. If I or the cast of WOWMS has something to say, we’ll say it thru our art. We’ve made plenty of statements on various topics such as religion, politics and elections, commercialism and more on the show thru satire and humor. And we will continue to do so. Our show strives to be more than just your typical one camera/one host talking directly to the audience horror host show. Thru our comedy and the overall feel of the show we strive to be entertaining and also to say something about how we feel about the world we live in. And obviously politics is a part of that. But I prefer to let the show speak for itself. If you watch it, I believe our viewpoints on many topics are pretty clear.

Thank you for the Interview.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author Kevin J. Anderson

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author Kevin J. Anderson

The Enquiring HitchhikerThis week the Enquiring Hitchhiker is proud to bring our readers an interview with Kevin J. Anderson author of many of the Star Wars extended universe novels, the extended Dune universe, and many of his own science fiction works as well.

Question 1. You are a very busy writer and able to produce what to me seems like a massive amount of material in a short period of time. What is your secret?

 

I love to write. I also write by dictating into a recorder, rather than sitting trapped in a chair with my fingers on the keyboard, so I also enjoy hiking and writing at the same time. But the main thing is that I have so many stories in my head, interesting characters and scenes, and I have to write so quickly in order to make room for all the new ideas that keep coming.

 

Question 2. My favorite book of yours which you wrote with Doug Beason is “Ill Wind”. I have long regarded it as one of my personal favorite tales of apocalypse. I know the book was written years ago but what are your thoughts on the book?

 

In ILL WIND, a gigantic oil spill is cleaned up by an experimental bacteria…which mutates and then begins dissolving all petroleum products; as a result, a lot of modern civilization falls apart. It’s an apocalypse story unlike the usual plague or nuclear war scenario (or zombie apocalypse!) when we wrote it, the science was cutting edge; both Doug Beason and I were heavily involved in the research, with the assistance of many experts in their own fields. It was very popular and has been in print for 16 years or so. I love the epic fall of civilization, and also the hopeful ingenuity we used to rebuild civilization.

Question 3. You have worked on many of the Star Wars books what are your thoughts on the purchase of Star Wars by Disney?

 

I think it seems a natural fit, and there has been close relationship with Disney and Lucasfilm for a long time (I love the Star Tours ride and Indiana Jones ride)—but note that Disney didn’t just buy Star Wars, but all of Lucasfilm, including other characters such as Indiana Jones, and the THX sound systems, Industrial Light and Magic, and everything else. It will have impact throughout the entertainment industry.

Question 4. Dune. To be honest I have not read any of the books in the Dune series not written by Frank Herbert. Can you sell the newer books to me? I have been looking for a science fiction series to read why would I choose Dune?

 

DUNE is the greatest SF novel ever written, in my opinion, and Frank Herbert created more than 15,000 years of history…In his own novels, he also left out huge chunks of the story. Brian Herbert and I are telling some of those stories, from the centuries-long epic war against the thinking machines and the foundations of the Dune universe (The Butlerian Jihad trilogy), or the prequels to Dune, the love story of Duke Leto and Lady Jessica, their initial battles with the Baron Harkonnen, and a lot of Imperial politics (the House Atreides, House Harkonnen, House Corrino trilogy); either of those would be the best place to start. (Or just reread DUNE—you can’t go wrong with that, either.)

Question 5. We always ask a political question here at the Freehold. One of the reason we do that is to gauge just what people in speculative fiction are thinking about society. So what are your political beliefs and is there anything you want to get across to our readers who are mostly libertarianish?

I used to love sitting around having political discussions, exchanging ideas. I am an independent, generally socially liberal but more conservative financially. I believe in science not dogma. I believe in personal responsibility. I despise hypocrisy. Unfortunately, political discussion has become pure poison—I watch the vitriol and ranting on Facebook, the vicious attacks (not discussions and an exchange of ideas, but marching-moron attacks without any interest in the opposing point of view). So, I close the door and keep my politics to myself.

 

Thank you for the Interview and I look forward to looking into one of your Dune novels.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews New Author Trey Garrison

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews New Author Trey Garrison

The Enquiring Hitchhiker

Our first interview after our short hiatus is with Trey Garrison. Mr. Garrison is one of the newest authors with Harper Collins ebook line. I believe his book comes out today and I also believe this is his first interview. We wish him a long and fruitful career in SF.

The Hitchhiker asks….

Question 1- Your new book Black Sun Rising revolves around Nazis, and magic in a Dieselpunk setting I have been interested in learning more about Dieselpunk and it seems you are just the person to ask. Tell us a little about the genre?

 

The last thing I want to do is invoke the ire of steampunk and Dieselpunk purists. I love the purists in any fan base. I am a purist. As far as I’m concerned, there is no Star Trek outside the 23rd Century and The Empire Strikes Back was the last Star Wars movie they made. Barry Allen is still dead, zombies shamble slowly, Han shot first, and Superman wears red underwear over his blue tights.

I took a lot of the elements from steampunk and dieselpunk, but steampunk is more than just brass goggles, steam cars and airships. Dieselpunk is more than just art deco and Sky Captain type technology. For purists both have to be dystopian and nihilistic. My book is neither of those. It’s more dieselpunk in terms of time setting and technology. It’s not completely dieselpunk either, though a lot of the aesthetics are. If anything, it’s sort of a literary incarnation of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau of the 1920s rolled into an adventure story. I love the boldness of the art and architecture of that era, and I think that seeped into the fabric of THE SPEAR OF DESTINY.
Question 2- How did you move from journalism and working for Reason Magazine into writing Speculative Fiction? What do you think of Reason magazine and it’s spin on current topics?

 

I’m a long-time libertarian and I make no bones about that. Libertarian themes pervade THE SPEAR OF DESTINY, but this is not a message book. I present multiple viewpoints about the role of the state and what a laissez-faire society might look like – embodied primarily in the Freehold of Texas in the book. My goal was to tell a ripping, fun adventure yarn. Any political theme is largely incidental. I wanted this to be accessible to everyone, regardless of what kind of politics they practice. But it’s not a coincidence that one of the protagonists’ names is a nod to an Ayn Rand character.

 

I always wanted to write fiction, but I held back because writing like this is soul-baring. Everything in there – good and bad – is part of you. No matter how thick-skinned you are, you know that people judging it are judging your soul. But finally I said screw it, I want to tell a bold, entertaining adventure tale, and damn the torpedoes.

 

Question 3- As a new author in the genre you are sure to have some fresh insight into the business so tell us a little about where you think the future of speculative fiction is heading?

 

My book is being released as an eBook. It makes sense from Harper Collins’ viewpoint – they don’t want to invest too much in an unproven writer. If it sells well, they will do a print version, and my next book will likely come out in print and e-format at the same time.

 

I think this really helps remove a barrier of entry for first-time writers. Publishers are willing to take more of a chance since they’re not risking quite as much of an investment.

 

Really, I feel like a new music artist circa 2000, being told that my single will be released on this new thing called iTunes instead of a traditional CD. eBook sales outpaced print book sales last year for the first time, and I don’t think that’s a trend that’s going away.

 

Question 4- After the THE SPEAR OF DESTINY series what are your future plans for writing?

 

I really like mashing up history as a background for a story I want to tell. I’m toying with the idea of a Cold War era spy thriller, but not like anything you’re thinking. In this world, after the Civil War much of Texas and the southwest was ceded to Mexico for their help in putting down the Confederacy. There was a diaspora of Texans back to England, fundamentally altering the culture there. Now 80 years later in the 1950s, Great Britain stands as the beacon of democracy between the Soviets to the east and a fascist America to the west.
Question 5- Tell us a bit about your personal politics and how that affects your writing?

 

Well, I am a libertarian so I can’t help that some of that seeps into my writing. But I like to think I give a fair hearing and realistic portrayal of non-libertarian thought. I never want my books to be preachy or have some great underlying message. The story must always come first. Still, given my persuasion, I suppose I’m more likely to have heroes be unaffiliated with the government – they’re not cops or government agents or soldiers. They’re as likely as not to be traders, merchants and businessmen. In fact, the working title of THE SPEAR OF DESTINY was “The Merchant Princes” as my primary protagonists are trade negotiators who run an air cargo shipping business.

 

Thank you for answering our questions.

 

Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity. If I can have a final word, it would be that I hope story comes first, last and always in my book, but libertarians will certainly appreciate the attention we don’t get so often in adventure stories.

 

You can order Black Sun Reich here and pre-order parts two and three as well.
Amazon: http://amzn.to/SLD3Qy
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/XElyyd
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