Category: Enquiring Hitchhiker

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.

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
iTunes: http://bit.ly/UHs5a8
Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/V4UQko

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author Greg Bear

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author Greg Bear

 

I have long been a fan of Greg Bear’s work. I think the first thing I ever read by him was The Strength of Stones and that segued into Blood Music which is probably my favorite novel by Bear besides Darwin’s Radio. It is hard to choose between the two.

 

The Enquiring Hitchhiker asks….

Question 1- As an archaeologist I found Darwin’s Radio fascinating. Do you think that the human race will undergo another major evolutionary change before we manage to wrest control of our own evolution?

 

Evolution never stops. We’ve defined evolution at the species level, but adaptation to changing environments occurs at the individual level throughout one’s life; we don’t individually grow wings to fly from danger, but we do bring into play phalanxes of genetic responses to changing seasons, physical threats, food supplies, sexual needs—you name it. Every aspect of biology is about solving problems on a second by second basis. What we call evolution, then, is a larger scale instance of that constant flux, observable in the different body plans of separate species, in the fossil record, in ontogeny AND phylogeny, which may or may not give us clues as to how change has happened in the past. Societies solve and support and adjust as well, politically and culturally, organizing populations, and that echoes back to how individuals adjust. To be sure, human evolution is now as much about social and technological adjustments as actual genetic adjustments; the mix and back-and-forth of this scale of evolution is not easy to quantify. But it’s important and may signal even greater changes to come. Whether or not, in all of this, a new “human” species will evolve is unknown—but if that sort of change is to come, it will have to sneak in soon. Because we’ll likely soon have the understanding and means to reverse such change, should we find it inconvenient.

 

Question 2- In Eon and subsequent novels you deal with the idea of alternate universes and alternate futures do you think that we are currently moving toward a physical model of the universe that allows for alternate universes in which life can arise?

 

These ideas are certainly fun to write about. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that a kind of “sum over histories” approach to alternate universes comes into play in living systems, including plants, which apparently have ways to maximize efficiencies through quantum adjustments in their photosynthetic chemistry. If that’s the case, and it appears pretty solid, then I may have to reassess my opinion of Frank Tippler’s quantum neurobiology! And that could imply that our own cognition and behavior may rely on a kind of motion through time which is less of a knife-edge slide into the future, and more of a smeared-out perception of competing futures… in which we may at times be able to make a choice. In CITY AT THE END OF TIME, I call it Fate-shifting. Fascinating prospects!

 

Question 3- Many of your works are about Humans evolving in a direction that seems to make them more dependent on each other physically and mentally. Do you think humanity is evolving toward a singular “overmind” or a small group of “control minds” and away from the rugged individual. Do you think there is room for the individual in the “Singularity”?

 

Centralization is not how minds get things done. Minds get things done through efficient and orderly distribution of problem-solving. An “overmind” is frightening because it’s basically unnatural. Likely it would also be terribly inefficient, and perhaps have a difficult time shedding waste heat! The Singularity is already upon us, has been upon us; no individual can grok the totality of modern technology. I know I can’t!

 

Question 4- I have not yet read The Mongoliad yet I am very interested in the concept and will pick it up at some point. Tell our readers why what is unique about it?

 

MONGOLIAD is distributed problem-solving (and story-writing) spread out among seven writers, with several other good folks providing tech support and fact checking. That it works at all—and it does, very well indeed!—points toward not just forward-looking attitudes on the part of Subutai’s founders, but a unique group of writers able to shed ego and focus on character and story.

 

Question 5- Our site is of course geared towards rational conservatives, libertarians, and objectivists. How would you describe yourself politically and what do you think are the major problems facing our society?

 

In many of my novels, I demonstrate my political persuasions through future-casting and social modeling—and because I try to play an honest game, many readers are confused about what to call me. I keep telling Jerry Pournelle I’m a liberal, mostly to irritate him—he’s been a major figure in my life–and he says I’m not a liberal, more of a maverick. Probably true. We still like each other, despite major disagreements. But the so-called rationalist and objectivist political persuasions have in recent decades slid into a lock-step with confederate conservatism that I find not only distressing, but irrational. I respect old-school libertarians—but not bigoted, pseudo-libertarian evangelicals who somehow manage to draw their ideals from both patriarchal plutocrats and Ayn Rand. That mix just doesn’t make sense. I doubt that Mr. Heinlein would sympathize with core Republican conservatism today, and I know Rand would have been disgusted. But that’s all part of continuing evolution in American politics! And times are a-changing, or swinging about in new winds. I remember back in the nineteen sixties, when I was a pre-teen conservative, trying to read a cruddy little tome called “None Dare Call It Treason.” I couldn’t get through it. The author accused Eisenhower of being a commie. Some currents never shift or run pure. Plus ca change!

 

Thank you for taking time out to answer these questions for us.

 

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author David Drake

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author David Drake

Known best for his Hammer’s Slammers series and his Lord of the Isles series David Drake has become an icon of military science fiction and fantasy over the years. We are happy to bring you an interview with the creator of the Hammerverse.

The Hitchhiker asks…

 

Question 1- You come from a history and legal educational background how did you end up in the writing business and what advice would you give to a person trying to get into the writing business today?

 

And Latin–don’t forget the Latin background, because it’s very important.

When I was in high school, a teacher (Eugene Olson) was a professional writer on the side. I determined that some day I would sell a story. Writing grew into a small hobby, but I didn’t dream of becoming a full-time writer.

Then I was drafted. When I got back to the World, I used fiction writing as a way to organize my memories and feelings, and to let out my considerable anger in an acceptable fashion.

After eight years of working as a lawyer, I realized that the particular stresses of the legal profession were going to kill me, so I quit and got a job driving a city bus. I spent more time writing because I had more time, and I figured the money would be very helpful. To my utter amazement, my writing career took off and I became a full-time freelance writer.

I didn’t begin writing in order to be a writer: I began writing to learn an interesting skill. I proceeded in a, well, in an obsessive fashion from 1970 on in order to control my anger and despair. I don’t really have advice for someone who Wants to be a Writer–who wants to get into the writing business today or any time–because that wasn’t me.

 

Question 2- How did your experiences in Vietnam prepare you for writing your fiction? Do these experiences show up in any of your books?

 

I served with an elite unit, the 11th Armored Cavalry; the Blackhorse Regiment or 11th ACR. In 1970 nobody I knew believed we were Saving Democracy. I suspect grunts in Iraq and Afghanistan have the same contempt for blowhards speaking similar twaddle today.

But we did our job. Everybody in the Blackhorse did his job. We kicked the ass of whoever they pointed us at, not because we believed in the war or in democracy or in any damned thing: we kicked ass because we were the Blackhorse.

I carried the attitude over into civilian life. My job is writing, and I do my job the best way I can; every time, every day. I’m David Drake, a writer, and I rode with the Blackhorse.

Yes, my military experiences show up in my fiction–even in humorous fantasy short stories. And bears shit in the woods.

 

Question 3- You helped start Carcosa a small publishing company, what are some of the pitfalls of publishing and how have those changed over the years especially in light of the internet. (We are interested because at the Freehold we have our own small press publications that will be coming out this fall)

 

I’ll give you two points; one which you probably think you know.

 

1)         Don’t put in more money than you’d be willing to burn in the driveway. Do not assume that anyone, ever, will buy one of your books.

Jim Groce and I put up all the money for Carcosa. Carcosa books are now sold for considerable sums of money, but Jim and I lost all the money we put in.

 

2)         Be aware that if you’re in a partnership, you may learn more about your partners than you wanted to know.

 

You should be publishing because you want to get certain books that you think are important out into the hands of readers. No other reason justifies small-press publishing.

 

Question 4- Who are the writers that have influenced you and your writing the most over the years?

 

There are a lot of ways to answer that. My prose style owes more to Tacitus than to any writer in English, and translating Ovid has taught me a great deal about the nuts and bolts of characterization.

In the SF/fantasy field, though, Henry Kuttner and Clark Ashton Smith. Kuttner started out as a crude stylist, but he always knew how to tell a story and he always went for the emotional punch. His stories have heart; even the hackwork is written with belief. Further, he kept learning from every story.

Smith’s vocabulary is unfortunate; he gives the impression of having taken it from a dictionary, not from the wide reading that would have permitted him to use the words in the correct context.

Despite that, his settings are gorgeous and his plot development shows that he really understood concepts about which Lovecraft merely mouthed words: his own insignificance and the insignificance of mankind. Smith’s work shows a detachment which I find in no other writer in the field, and the best of his stories are crushingly effective even after multiple rereadings.

 

Question 5- Tell us a little about your political beliefs, You told me in our email exchange that you are not a libertarian. What do you describe yourself as?

I have no ideology. My family in Iowa was Republican, but when I moved to NC I registered as a Democrat so that I could vote usefully in primaries.

I used to describe myself as apolitical, but my friend Eric Flint–a Trotskyist labor organizer–said I was the most political writer he knew, save for himself. It’s true that I analyze human interactions in terms of politics, so politics are at the heart of all my fiction.

I suppose I believe, as did Dickens and Orwell, that a society which ran on Christian principles (note that I did not say Christian theology) would be ideal for human beings. Again like Dickens and Orwell, I don’t believe there’s any possibility of such a society existing among human beings; but I wish it were the ideal toward which most people strove.

I don’t believe that’s going to happen either.

I try to be courteous; and honest; and even kind. I am in despair when I look at the world around me and at my own failings.

 

Thank you for the interview. I know there are several readers here who are ecstatic you took the time to do this for us.