Category: Enquiring Hitchhiker

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Dr. Gregory Benford

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Dr. Gregory Benford


This week the Enquiring Hitchhiker has several new interviews. The first of these is with  Dr. Gregory Benford. Dr. Benford is one of the leading authors of hard science fiction working today. His novel In the Ocean of Night was one of my first introductions to the idea of artificial intelligence.


The Hitchhiker asks…

Question 1. Ben Bova has commented that there is too little science fiction about scientists, their lives and the work that they do. Clearly, you are an exception to the rule but why do you think this is the case, even among scientists who write science fiction?”


Writing well is hard, and scientists are often single-minded, so never develop the narrative skills to really enjoy writing, as I do. I realized early on an advantage: You get to use material from part of life that few know and few writers attempt.


Question 2. You come from a science 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?

If you possibly can, don’t write for money. It’s too hard to make it work, especially full time. I’ve always been a hobbyist and think that gives you freedom to enjoy it more. I’ve been very lucky in timing, coming in as the New Wave energy lapsed and there was appetite for more traditional, Campbellian sf. I added some literary graces to hard sf. Many have done this now of course.


Question 3. Who are the writers who have most influenced your writing?

The usual: Hemingway, Faulkner, the great English poets pre-Shakespeare, & in sf, Clarke, Heinlein, Disch, Russ, Silverberg, John D. Macdonald, Donald Westlake, Raymond Chandler. I learned a lot from them about narrative craft.


Question 4. This is sort of a personal question so bear with me on this. You and I are both from the South and we both work in a science field (albeit archaeology isn’t exactly a hard science). When I first started I moved to the border area of New York and Pennsylvania to work on a multi-year dig. I experienced a massive amount of anti-Southern bigotry not from the local people but from my fellow archaeologists who tout themselves as paragons of civility and liberalism. Did you experience anything similar as a Southerner turned scientist?


I changed my Alabama accent to a flat California one first year of grad school at UCSD…for good reason. Liberals aren’t really liberal, though they’re blind to that–they’re in love with a value system that needs villains. Be aware. When I taught in the English Dept. at UCI (honors program, and upper division journalism), I noted that American literature has been strongly Southern (Twain, Faulkner, Welty, both Tom Wolfes etc) but literary theory has a Northern cast. Many think it odd that I’m from the South, but that just reflects the monoculture of academe—which desires diversity in everything but opinion.


Question 5. Can you tell us a bit about your role at Reason Magazine and maybe a brief run down of your political beliefs?

I’m a Contributing Editor. I write a piece for the magazine when they bring me an interesting topic. I used to help shape issues, writing cover stories, but in recent years do much less. I’m a middle level libertarian. Don’t believe in open borders, as some do. Prefer some aspects of old line, cultural conservative views, which note the importance of continuity and community in shoring up liberties. Dislike our militarist impulses of late, though my father was a professional who fought in WWII and Korea and retired as Commandant of the artillery school, Ft. Sill. (I and my identical twin brother were in the reserves but never served.) I grew up in occupied Japan and Germany and saw the aftermath of that colossal struggle. A list:

1. I don’t think trying to manage Arabs or others is our proper job. Our Navy should keep the sea lanes clear for trade, but policeman is not our role; doing that endangers the structure of our Republic, as Eisenhower pointed out.

2. Nor do I like borrowing money from China to give it to people who hold us in contempt, hoping to curry favor.

3. I’d like a simple tax code and an end to the long-ago lost War on Drugs.

4. In law, change the costly legal rules from “discovery” to disclosure, as the Brits do.

5. I would consider advocating that California leave the Union, since it is simply too large an entity to run its affairs without being able to control its borders, make most of its laws or print its own money. We see now the limits of the Federal Republic model.

These ideas put me outside most political movements, of course.


Dr. Benford thank you for the interview.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Dr. William Forstchen Author of “One Second After”

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Dr. William Forstchen Author of “One Second After”







Last weekend I visited the “Self Reliance Expo” in Hickory North Carolina. My main goal in coming to the convention was to meet Dr. Forstchen and hopefully interview him for the Freehold. The interview happened but was not conducted under the best of circumstances.  I taped the interview but it was conducted in the convention hall and the sound quality is not the greatest. Below is a transcript of the interview and I will make available an audio version and host it on The Freehold Radio and Podcast page later in the week.

Dr. Forstchen is a professor of military history at Montreat college. His novel One Second After details the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse and how it affects the citizens of the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina. The book reached number eleven on the New York times bestseller list when it debuted in 2009. Dr. Forstchen is also a good friend of Newt Gingrich and they have written a number of books together.

The Hitchhiker asks…


Question 1. Has writing the book One Second After made you more appreciative of the prepper movement in America?


Question 2. What do you believe is the most important thing to be prepared for after an EMP event?

It’s like Maslow’s  hierarchy of needs. Water, Food, medication, security, and then recovery.

Question 3. I have not had a chance to read the book yet but I have been told that refugees come from Charlotte and cities to the east into the mountains. Do you think they would actually head toward the mountains rather than the coasts?

Yes, there seems to be a homing instinct that people think mountains are going to be safe.

Question 4. You spoke to me earlier about your next book. The one about a space elevator. Do you think that is what is going to finally open up space to business?

Yes, One hundred percent. That is why I am writing the book. The technology is already here.

Question 5. Many people on our site are fans of Newt Gingrich (especially me). We wanted Newt to win the nomination. Tell us a little about your political affiliation and your affiliation with Newt?

Newt and I have been friends for twenty years. We’ve written nine books together. I think he would have made a fabulous President (I concur). He has been a  very close personal friend as well. I have a deep love and admiration for him.

Thank you for your time Dr. Forstchen ad I hope we can one day do an interview in a less hectic environment.

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

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


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


The Hitchhiker asks…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for the interview.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews L. Neil Smith

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews L. Neil Smith




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


The Hitchhiker asks…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Other people are as real as you are.

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

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

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

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

Thank you for doing this interview.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Michael Z. Williamson

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Michael Z. Williamson

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


The Hitchhiker asks…

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



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


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



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


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



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


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



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

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



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


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




Thank you for the interview.




The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews J. Neil Schulman

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews J. Neil Schulman

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


The Hitchhiker asks…

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

I wrote an entire book to answer this question: The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Heinleiniana (

As I wrote in my introduction to that book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This interview is quickly becoming links to fuller answers to these questions. My best summary is also on my blog here:

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

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

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

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

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


The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Larry Niven

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Larry Niven

Larry Niven is one of the old guard of hard science fiction writers. His ringworld Novels are some of the most widely read science fiction novels of all time. It was our pleasure to interview him for the site.

The Hitchhiker asks…..

Question 1- I asked this question of Dr. Pournelle but I also would like your opinion on the same question. The modern trend in speculative fiction is away from hard science fiction and has moved towards a melange of vampire eroticism, mystical children, and medieval fantasy. Even when Hollywood attempts a science fiction story (see my review of the new Total Recall) they infuse the story with so much pseudo-scientific gobbledegook that it gives me a headache. Do you think that this lack of interest in hard science fiction says something about our society?

I touched on vampire eroticism in the Ringworld series. Mystical children: never tried it. Medeival fantasy: sort of, in the Magic Goes Away stories. I try not to follow trends.

Hollywood sometimes does well with SF movies. Hard SF generally goes transcendental at the end, like 2001 did, perhaps because there’s no clear end to the conquest of space. Less ambitious movies can succeed brilliantly, like Westworld and Rollerball and Aliens. The gobbledegook problem is that it isn’t really researched: it’s just babble, a tradition well established by 3rd season Star Trek.

But our society has always been like that. I’ve seen progress: you used to have to hide your SF books.

Question 2- Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book?

We tend to flinch from this question. It’s a great chance to offend all of our friends but one.

I’ll cop to reading everything by Tim Powers, Terry Pratchett, Robert Heinlein. I love The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. Neil Stephenson and Neil Gaiman are great.

Question 3- My personal favorite book of your’s is the one you wrote with Jerrry Pournelle called Lucifer’s Hammer. Since I have asked several authors their opinion of what they would do to prepare for a scenario such as the one described in the book, I thought I would change the question for you and ask what you would do to rebuild later on if you happened to be one of the survivors?

The real Dan Forrester was Dan Alderson, and we got our data from him. I’d use the books he would have preserved in that septic tank (in Hammer.)

Me, I’d get to Jerry Pournelle and follow directions. He considers me an idea source.

Question 4- In your work man meets the alien Kzin race and promptly goes to war with them again and again. The naked ape is constantly defeating a trained warrior race of giant cats. Do you think that first physical contact with an alien race will end in war and do you think Mankind really has that internal killer instinct ready to come out?

It’s not plausible that the first alien we meet will be that close to our own state of civilization. Bet that they’re a billion years advanced beyond us. Yes, the internal killer is ready to come out, but he doesn’t stand a chance.

Question 5- Over the span of your career you have been seen as both a liberal and a conservative. Where on the political spectrum would you place yourself and why?

Raised Republican. I dropped out when George Bush Sr. raised taxes. I’m still waiting for an apology. Currently Libertarian. I sent money to Newt Gingrich, the only candidate who doesn’t think that a base on the Moon is funny.



Thank you for the Interview we really appreciate you taking time out to speak with us.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Writer Mike Baron

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Writer Mike Baron

Mike Baron is the Creator of the comic Badger and co-creator of Nexus. He has worked on Marvel’s Punisher and is a contributor to Big Head Press.
I have always been a fan of your work. I first discovered Badger back in the late 1980s. I even painted Badger on a t-shirt because it was impossible to find t-shirts of comic characters back then that weren’t one of the top four spidey, hulk, superman, or batman. I think I was drawn to Badger because of the internal struggle between his personalities. At that time in my life I was struggling with who I was and who I wanted to be. The Badger story spoke to me as a teen in a way other comic characters did not. To show what a fan boy I was I think I still have all the first run of Badger, or at least most of them and they were not easy to come by in rural North Carolina back in the 1980’s.

Anyway I digress on to the questions…


The Hitchhiker asks…

1. What inspired you to create Badger and in a larger sense what inspires all of your creations?

Once Capital accepted Nexus I sought to capitalize by launching another title. The boys insisted on a costumed crime fighter. I was walking down State St. in Madison wondering why a guy would put on a costume and fight crime. He’d have to be crazy. That was the first note. I looked at the shops I was passing. Badger Liquors. Badger Barber Shop. Badger posters. That was the second note. I’d read The Minds of Billy Milligan and it had always stuck with me. I guess I’d been looking to create an MPD super hero all along. I also had those eight pages of Ham the Weather Wizard that Jeff Butler drew so we decided to tack that onto the front of the story and that’s where Ham came from.
The urge to tell a story, to reach an emotional catharsis lies at the heart of all my story telling. It’s the same urge that drives songwriters, I think.
2. How did you get into the comic writing business? What is your advice for someone that is trying to break into the business today?
I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I’d been working with the Dude for several months when we learned via Steven Grant that Capital City Distribution wanted to branch out into comic publishing. I think the best way for young talent to break into the field is to produce their own comics. You can always get them read and all they take is sweat equity. I would guess that the second most popular route is to go to as many comic conventions as you can and hang out with the editors. Buy them drinks. Get them laid.
3. Comics sales seemed to explode in the 1990’s then sales contracted through the early 2000’s do you think that the trend towards the artist who was also the writer hurt comic sales? (I am a big believer that the artists draws and the writer writes and very few people are good at both) Or was it the internet that hurt sales in that time frame? There seems to be a rebirth in comics today is this due to Hollywood’s discovery of the superhero?
There are some terrific artists out there who for some reason think they can write. There are very talented writer/artists like Mike Mignola. But there are a lot of guys who draw great
who end up with writing assignments probably because it’s easier for the publisher. Some of these guys learn on the job. I don’t see where Hollywood has helped comic sales except in the case
of The Walking Dead. Maybe web comics will expand readership. The plethora of publishers today is due to numerous factors. People are desperate to do comics and will give their work away if it means being published. A lot of licensors are handing out licenses to publishers who don’t pay their talent just to keep the property in the public eye. There are a lot of vanity publishers. The big guys, particularly the big independents like Dark Horse, IDW and Dynamite, are very canny about what they publish. That’s why we see so many licensed properties and so few creator-owned at those houses right now. They are simply going where the money is.
4. What do you think is the future of comics? Is it online or are comics at least “profitable” comics going to stay print and paper for sometime to come?
When Henry Ford introduced the Model T experts quickly announced the extinction of the horse. They forgot that people love horses and collect them. Likewise comics. You can’t ride a comic and it doesn’t nuzzle, but you do get that warm thrilling feeling when you crack open a new book by your favorite creators. Print comics will always be with us. But the future of comics lies online. That’s where the readership will grow. These kids today, these kids…they don’t buy comics. They buy video games. And that’s why we see so many video game based entertainments as well.
You describe scififreehold as a science fiction site. I have written a science fiction novel called WHACK JOB which I plan to release digitally next year. It is guaranteed to blow your mind.
5. Scott Bieser of Big Head Press described you to me as the conservative of the crew there. Tell us a little about your political beliefs?
I think it’s fair to say I’m conservative. Of course Scott’s libertarian. Those guys are crazier than gerbils on acid.


Thank you for the interview. We appreciate your work and look forward to reading your new work WHACK JOB.
The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author John Ringo

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author John Ringo

This week we interview author John Ringo. He has had several books on the New York Times best seller list and he has over two million books in print. Ringo’s specializes in military/science fiction.

 The Hitchhiker asks…

Question 1- After reading There Will Be Dragons I had a sense that Heinlein had influenced your writing. Are you a fan of his work?

Very much so. Heinlein is the absolute sine qua non of science fiction authors. While I haven’t read all of his works, I’ve read most and he’s definitely my favorite SF author influencing both my writing and my life. Among other things, that bastard Sergeant Ho in Starship Troopers tricked me into joining the infantry.

Question 2- As an archaeologist I have worked on quite a few military bases .I have some amazing stories of insane things that happen in these places. Does your work ever reflect fictionalized real life occurrences from your time in the military and can you share one of these for our readers?

Duh. The US military is not competent. It is simply less incompetent than any other on earth and possibly any other in history. Every military organization, from the inside, appears to be chaos. That is, in a way, a good thing. War and any other ’emergency’ is chaos. The US military’s ability to float upon chaos can thus be seen as a strength, not a weakness.
For personal stories, Gods. Which? I was in the airborne. You don’t get much more chaotic than jumping out of airplanes, at night, the whole operation actually managed by a bunch of people who barely passed high school. The good ones are too long. Come to a con, bring a recorder and buy me a beer.

Question 3- What is your opinion of the importance of nanotechnology and genetic engineering? These two technologies seem to reoccur in your writing and I think many of our readers would like to hear your thoughts on them directly.

Nanotech is probably going to be a huge technology in the future. True nanotech, though, I think is further off than most proponents think. I could be wrong but even taking in Moore’s Law, I don’t see functional ‘in the environment’ nannites in less than fifty years. Too many hurdles in material science to jump.
Genetic engineering, though, ‘synthetic biology’ as it’s starting to be called, is the next ‘big wave.’ We’re at the point, as we were in the early ’80s with software, where everything is low hanging fruit and ‘basement labs’ are completely doable. That has both good and bad implications. The difference between software and bioware is that when some joker creates a software virus, lots of people are given a bad day. The potential for scriptkiddies in bioware is that they can give lots of people their LAST bad day.
The difference is sizeable and is the basis of the book I’m currently working on. I’m not a ‘Frankenstein’ believer in the ‘dangers’ of technology. But when you have the ability for some bright 13 year old to make Spanish Flu in his mother’s basement… There are some issues there that we’d better start addressing. And saying ‘you can’t do that, it’s illegal!’ is not ‘addressing’ the issue. It would both degrade research and be functionally useless. But that would tend to be any government’s reaction. Make a law and you’ve fixed the problem. Like, say, drugs.

Question 4- Many of your works involve the collapse of civilization and the heroes that rise to stem the tide of savagery that rises. If society were to collapse what precautions in your opinion could the average person take to ride out the worst?

The ‘worst’? None. Except be mentally and emotionally prepared for it. Have guns, have food, have friends and hope you have more friends (and or ammo) than the person who only has guns and friends. Doing ‘extreme’ preparations for apocalypse is silly. And unless you have a job that you can do in the middle of nowhere and don’t want to have a Hooters nearby… You really can’t ‘plan.’ All you can do is be mentally and somewhat physically prepared. Anyone who doesn’t have some stocks of food and water, no matter where they live and work, is an idiot. Probably the major attraction of an ‘apocalypse’ for most readers is that (contrary to Hollywood zombie movies) it really would tend to weed out the idiots.

Question 5- This website is devoted to conservatives, objectivists, and libertarians. It may be the only right of center science fiction news and lifestyle site on the web. I am not 100% certain of your political ideology but I think I can deduce some of it from your writing style. Do you think that there is a market for more conservative/libertarian science fiction?

First, I’m sort of libertarian with sense. I don’t think, I know, that humans cannot do without government. OTOH, it’s a good servant and a terrible master. So call me a fascist libertarian. I’m not sure that it’s the only ‘right of center’ site on the Web. In fact, if you count Instapundit, who regularly reads and often reviews my books, it’s definitely not the only one. But instapundit isn’t entirely SF based so you pays your money and you takes your choice as my mom used to say. As to the question does there need to be more? You need to read more Baen. Again, this discussion is endless. There are any number of liberals in SF and fandom who don’t even realize there are conservative/libertarian SF fans. My EXTREMELY libertarian novel Live Free or Die (Baen) was number 18 on the NYT hardcover list. And libertarian/conservative SF novels almost invariably outsell ‘liberal’ oriented novels. (Compare the my sales to China Mieville. He has the recognition, I get the money. I’ll take the money.)
Yeah, you definitely need to read more Baen.


Thank you for the Interview we appreciate you taking time out to speak with us.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Dr. Jerry Pournelle

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Dr. Jerry Pournelle

We have a special treat for our readers this morning. One of my all time favorite authors Dr, Jerry Pournelle.  Having co-authored my third favorite book Lucifer’s Hammer (1 and 2 are both Heinlein works) I was a little nervous to contact him and more nervous to actually ask for an interview. Luckily I got over that  and I am very proud to present this interview for our audience here at the Freehold.

Normally we like to ask four questions about the person’s work and a fifth question being about politics. Many of our readers are very familiar with Dr. Pournelle’s writing. In fact in my circle of acquaintances both on the internet and in real life Lucifer’s Hammer is referenced quite often along with many of his other work’s. So we focused this interview  on asking Dr. Pournelle political questions.

 The Hitchhiker asks…

1. My first conscious introduction to you was the forward you wrote for Heinlein’s Take Back Your Government In fact your forward and that book helped make me a politically aware person. It also influenced me to vote for Ross Perot that year. Do you think Perot was the right man at that time and do you think third parties actually accomplish anything in our society beyond being a spoiler for one of the large party candidates?


The goal of many adherents of the Perot movement was to alter the political process of the United States, and particularly the party nomination process; specifically to move some of the control of that process back down to the precinct and legislative district level where it had been for a century. It was not so much support of Perot himself as of the viability of a third party candidate with popular support.



2. Lucifer’s Hammer is a favorite in my crowd. I like to think of that crowd as the rational preppers. Do you have any thoughts about how and why the prepper movement has developed in this country to such an extent?


I’m not sure what you mean by prepper. It is not a word I use. Citizens ought to be prepared for local emergencies, and I was at one time an Emergency Preparedness merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts, and as Assistant Scoutmaster I insisted on Emergency Preparedness in our local troop. I was also involved with the Civil Defense network and activities. I do not believe that the Federal Government can establish an agency to take the place of what used to be Civil Defense, and it seems clear to me that the frequent FEMA failures illustrate this.

Self government requires citizens willing to participate in self government rather than rely on distant government organizations to take care of them. During the Cold War the primary threat to civilization in the US was from nuclear war. In my view the best way to survive a nuclear war is not to have one, but if that fails, then there are obvious steps one may take to make survival more probable. Today the threats are quite different, as are their probabilities.


At my age I would not expect to survive the collapse of civilization, nor would I expect to be able to conduct a point defense against organized marauders. Local Civil Defense organizations were the best preparation against the failure of national military deterrence – and had the merit of making that deterrence more stable. There are preparations that regions can make against threats to civilization – such as world power failure following enormous solar flares. They aren’t being made now. How effectively individuals or small communities can prepare against a million people with limited resources and time before starvation in a world without electrical power (no refrigerators, no pipelines, no food distribution system operating in a world of ‘just in time’ delivery to grocery stores, etc.. etc.) is not so clear or obvious. Again local Civil Defense organizations with a chain of command and some contingency plans would seem to have the best chance here.


The old notion of survival companies able to hole up and survive the first months following nuclear war and fallout with its casualties doesn’t apply when no one is sick yet but everyone is starving, and cars still run, bridges are still intact, but fuel is running out. That kind of Hobbesian world makes for rather depressing science fiction novels.


3.Our readers are concerned about the space program and NASA. While I believe personally that commercial space exploration is the future I can not stress how important the contributions of NASA scientists have been to our society. We certainly would not be doing this interview over email without some of the technology developed in the Apollo era and beyond. In light of all your work in the aerospace community do you believe NASA still holds an important role in space exploration?


I have long ago said that governments are supposed to look out for our grandchildren now that we no longer have kings and aristocrats who do that. The problem is that government does only a few things well. It can organize for defined missions like Apollo, but then the standing army created for doing that tends to stay around and absorb resources.


There are things that government can and should do. I summarize that as “Prizes and X Projects”. I wrote that briefing a long time ago, and it’s available as “How to get to Space”



4. There is a belief that Republican administrations are anti-science. I can understand where some would feel that way because of the anti-evolution crowd among the religious right. However when I have looked at the numbers, presidents like George Bush increased NASA funding while the Obama Administration has slashed it. What are your thoughts on the political difference in spending for science?


I was campaign manager for the first (and successful) campaign of Barry Goldwater, Jr. for Congress. Barry was on the Science Committee and attempted to save a number of advanced research projects such as NERVA. My old friend Dana Rohrbacher has long been a congressional friend of advanced research projects. Newt Gingrich tried to introduce Prizes for space projects and has long been known as a space cadet. There is a place for government in space development. But I covered all that in the last question.  See



5. Since the first four questions were political in nature I thought I would save a science fiction question for last. The modern trend in speculative fiction is away from hard science fiction and has moved towards a melange of vampire eroticism, mystical children, and medieval fantasy. Even when Hollywood attempts a science fiction story (see my review of the new Total Recall) they infuse the story with so much pseudo-scientific gobbledegook that it gives me a headache. Do you think that this lack of interest in hard science fiction says something about our society?


When I first got into science fiction, fantasy was a small branch of SF, and SFWA was the Science Fiction Writers of America; fantasy writers could join but it was a courtesy. Now fantasy is much larger in sales than SF. On the other hand, science fiction still sells. Lucifer’s Hammer was fifteen weeks on the best-seller list, and continues to sell well as an electronic book (and indeed eBook rights are probably worth more now than print rights for many SF works).


The American public school system has become a national disaster, and we have a generation unprepared for understanding science or science fiction; and a school system that believes that everything is relative and thus a matter of opinion (including so far as I can see the value of Planck’s Constant and the solution to the problem of 12.3 + 44) isn’t likely to generate students fond of works like The Cold Equations, or for that matter that kind of tales I tell which still have stories of honor and loyalty. Fortunately the Internet has produced a remedy, and those who really want to learn can turn to the Kahn Academy and various MIT and Cal Tech lectures, and such like. The means for learning are out there.


And, as Mr. Heinlein used to say, mankind will go to space, but there is no law of the Universe that says that the language spoken out there will be English.


America has the potential to go back to space, beginning with Moon Colonies and continuing to the asteroids and beyond. I wrote all that years ago in my non-fiction book A Step Farther Out and it’s still pretty valid.


Dr. Pournelle Thank you for this interview it was a genuine pleasure.