This is a repost of an interview I did a few weeks back with one of the better known libertarian writers a few weeks back, its being reposted here in anticipation of the interview with Eric Flint that I will be posting to blogcritics in just a day or two.

Interview with Michael Z Williamson aka MadMike.

TheCO: What can readers of the first book expect in this one?

MZW: It's more streamlined. Freehold had too many plot elements--it was my first. This has a better focus.

TheCO: Who is the main character of this novel?

MZW: Cpt Kenneth Chinran, who led the Freehold ground attack on Earth.

TheCO: What is the 'point' of this novel? Is it just good escapist brain candy, or is there some underlying ethical imperative?

MZW: I'd actually written a large part of it before Sept 11. The cautionary tale therein is even more important now. It's a comment on the fragility of large systems. To an extent, they are self-repairing around accidents, much like any organism. But a sufficiently large attack requires external medicine to prevent maiming or death.

TheCO: What were some of the differences you noticed writing structure wise between this and the first novel?

MZW: I switched to first person for this one, to capture the flavor of the character. There are lots of things that can't be covered from a
single, focused POV, but it also gets the single point emotions to hit
harder, I think. Some writers caution against it, and I even had one
tell me that nothing good had ever been written first person. I guess
Heinlein's Starship Troopers, Double Star and The Moon is a Harsh
Mistress are no good then, not to mention a large number of Ellison's
work, Niven's, Donald Kingsbury and Dean Ing...

TheCO: As you write more is it getting easier for you to drive the plot and keep things moving?

MZW: I've never had a problem with that, actually.

TheCO About how many words do you do per day?

MZW: I try for at least 1000. Some days I do 5-7K. More than that and I think any writer loses focus and is just filling space. Fine for roughing things on a deadline, not good for a self-consistent, polished final product.

TheCO: What if any book that you've read would you compare this to?

MZW: I hate doing that. I'm not trying to be anyone else. I'm trying to be
me. There are obvious Heinlein influences in all my stuff, and Pournelle. But I don't want to be compared to them as far as style.

TheCO: Can you describe your typical workday writing?

MZW: I either write very early or very late, when my brain isn't engaged in mundane matters like bills and such, so right after my daughter leaves for school and my son isn't awake, or after 11pm until whenever. Unless the bug bites me and I pick some other time.

TheCO: What does the future have in store for this world? And for this character?

MZW: This character? A very, very busy life. First as ultimate killer, then as ultimate target for the threat he is, then a frustrated attempt to be normal. Lots of stuff in the Freehold universe-development and basis of it, the war, eventual decline and stagnation, numerous side issues, human stories and economic and political matters.

TheCO: What authors do you admire most among the current crop of
writers? Among the "classic" writers?

MZW: Eric Flint is a very good writer, but I haven't read much of his. Lars Walker is grossly underrated and a fantastic writer for moral discussions. Steven Barnes. David Weber is vastly entertaining. Bujold can always tell a good story.

Not "classic," but David Drake not only defined a genre, but has a
spare yet vivid style everyone should take a look at. Niven, Pournelle, Poul Anderson, Ellison for human effect, Pierre Boulle, Edgar Pangborn, occasional John Brunner.

TheCO: You collaborated with John Ringo for a novel, how was that?

MZW: Interesting. I had to explore that universe, and I had limited ways to adapt it, but greatly enjoyed them. We started with the rule that the Darhel character couldn't kill, yet he's a soldier. "Well, dammit, how the hell is the Darhel going to kill?" That was entirely up to me. I had a lot of fun with it.

TheCO: How much did it affect your writing style to be working
with Ringo?

TheCO: Not so much. John insisted on a couple of dialog style issues that I largely agree with now--I'd never seen them. I insisted a couple of parts were flat out unrealistic and he let me change them from the rough draft. I tried to sink into the feel of the outline I had, and as it was set in rough terrain with predators, I used a healthy dose of Peter Capstick for creating mental images. He wasn't SF, but he's still well worth reading.

TheCO: Is there anyone you'd like to work with in the future?

MZW: Several come to mind but I wouldn't want to jinx anything or create any rumors.

TheCO: Thus far you've written near future semi main stream mil-fiction, and slightly more traditional far future sf, what other branches of writing can we expect to see you explore?

MZW: I've also written political satire, technical non-fiction, erotica. I keep pushing to get more human interaction ("politics") and emotion into things. At the same time, a part of me keeps trying to up the physical struggle ("fighting") when I do. I'm working on a near future SF now with a collaborator--and hoping for it to be picked up soon--with what I call the "kitchen sink battle": An absolute desperate fight for survival with totally non-military hardware and improvised weapons galore. Just what are people capable of with good non-military resources and a threat of extinction? It's also far deeper into contemporary politics than I've gone before. There's an immoderate dose of sarcasm in it, too.

TheCO: What other works should people look for with your name on

MZW: Currently, Freehold, The Hero and The Weapon from Baen, The Scope of Justice and Targets of Opportunity from HarperCollins' Avon imprint,
with Confirmed Kill pending, a short story in the next Valdemar anthology, assorted comments and articles on my website and at www.keepandbeararms.com, a pending illustrated article about the US
Army Sniper School, and I've got 4-6 more in negotiation. Sooner would be better. I'm in the famine stage of Feast or Famine.

TheCO: What works are forth coming from you?

MZW: The Weapon and Confirmed Kill. Depending on when this interview us published, Targets of Opportunity will either be out or just about to hit stores.

TheCO: Is there anyplace your fans can find you on the web?

MZW: www.michaelzwilliamson.com www.sharppointythings.com
www.thehighroad.org (firearm forum, as madmike) www.bar.baen.com (Baen
Publishing's online forum, as madmike), www.keepandbeararms.com and
anywhere I'm quoted by others.

TheCO: You've been quite generous in discussing your forthcoming
sequel to Freehold, now lets switch gears and talk about
your other work. What makes Scope of Justice and Targets of
Opportunity different from Freehold and The Weapon?

MZW: There are the limits of the contemporary world, and the further limits of military operational policies and regulations to keep (mostly) in mind. This affects how the story is told.

TheCO: Can you introduce us to some of the people we'll meet
within the pages of Targets?

MZW: Kyle Monroe and Wade Curtis, experience and professional Army snipers. My goal was to keep the story exciting but try to be realistic as far as operations. There aren't firefights on every page, and their goal is to be discreet. They start out barely knowing each other, but by the end, Kyle with his professional pessimism and determination, and Wade with his sarcastic sense of humor are good friends and work well together.

TheCO: Do you find writing the sequels more or less fun than the
original books in a series?

MZW: There's usually another story behind everything. The trick is to tell THAT story and not rehash what's been done already.

TheCO: What three words best sum up Targets?

MZW: Sheesh, most editors ask for a 20 word description.

TheCO: How do the politics differ, or over lap between the
Scopes/Target world and the Freehold/Weapon world?

MZW: The Freehold universe is more libertarian. I can't make all my
characters that way, nor is it realistic for most contemporary
characters. Kyle and Wade have a strong streak of American
independence but are more on the traditionally conservative side.

TheCO: How many more installments can we look forward to in this

MZW: Just the three for now. If you all buy copies, the contract can be extended and I'll write more. Hint, hint.

The CO: And last, thank you for the interview, and is there
anything you'd like to say to your current and future fans?

MZW: Thanks for the trip so far. It's been a hell of a ride.

And that ladies and gents is MadMike Williamson. A man I’ve now met in the flesh twice, played with his kids, met his wife, and had the pleasure of buying both books and blades from. Mad Mike is “good people”. Until next time, stay casual, you know I will.

Targets of Opportunity




Mixed news from the Sudan

At the same time the African Union is tripling the force in Darfur, the Sudanese Government is making aid workers jobs easier. Currently, aid workers need permission to go to places where there are no security concerns. That particular barrier is being dropped. The African Unions force is currently only authorized to only authorized to protect civilians in a very limited fashion, as part of the deal that will bring their forces up over seven thousand to expand their mission to give them more license to intervene. Could we actually see an end to the rolling atrocity that is the Sudan in the next few years? Who knows? Despite the efforts of the government, the international concerns, the outlook may take on a grimmer aspect for the whole region.



Two things

Two things everyone should do in the next few weeks.
1) Read Studs Terkel's "The Good War", its a collection of oral histories from World War Two. An incredible document that gives you more insight into the mind of men and women who were there than you will ever gain without being there.
2) Watch, or rewatch "Dr. Strangelove. For those who have never seen it, its a 1964 indictment of the Cold War mentality by Stanley Kubrick and a cast that includes James Earl Jones in his first movie role. This is an incredible piece of satire that works even forty years later. There are parallels to today's world view in it.



Growing Democracy

At the same time Egypt is experiencing a wheat and flour shortage that threaten to cause serious unrest among the lower income brackets, and while the Russian President Putin is set to visit, The Egyptians have decided to make their nation more democratic. The Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will face his first opponent for the presidency he has held since 1981. After recently directing his nations parliament to amend the constitution to allow multiple candidates in the public elections he is expected to announce his candidacy in an interview set to be released this week. He may even get a boost from one of his nations pop singers. He is seventy-seven years old.

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?



New Tool

There is a new tool available to our nation. One that will save millions of dollars. It is a tool that will help hospitals, help polices, and save untold numbers of lives. It will allow thousands of people to do their jobs more effectively. This new tool will also lower the risk of acts of terrorism occurring on American soil. You should, if you have even the smallest slice of patriotism, push your elected representatives to put this tool into use immediately.




Oy, this is getting annoying.

Real Life has decided to run me over again. I got involved in a little writing project elsewhere that was supposed to be done, but has taken on a life of its own and will now be taking up time I don't care to spend on it. I should get a piece or two up in the am, but no guarantees. Monday and Tuesday are already looking scarce but on the plus side I've discovered a few things worth blogging about.

Blogspectrum is about to grow again, and I'll be finishing off the first three weeks questions before I start us up again.

I have a charming lady working on a template for me, so my blog will be getting a face lift real soon. And of course my blogroll will get updated.. If you link to me, and I haven't gotten you listed yet please email me, or post a comment and I'll make sure you get put in as soon as the template is loaded.



More fallout

China's constant pleas for attention are having more affect than just giving the news media and blosphere something to talk about other than this weeks trail of the century. It's affecting alliances and putting pressure on nations that would rather avoid it. Australia is currently under a lot of pressure from other Southeast Asian nations, specifically Japan, to sign a treaty that would prevent any nuclear sub from passing through their waters. The treaty in question would come into conflict with a pre existing treaty with the US that allows unrestricted passage of our vessels through their waters. The type of conflicts, not just with themselves against the outside world are setting up are many, and far reaching. Damaging trade between other nations by jacking up the tension is bad enough, but a serious enough conflict could cause one or more of the nations who remain neutral to have an economic depression, or out right collapse. With petrochemicals as expensive as they are, and many of the nations in the area having to import simple agricultural goods and food, things could get very ugly very fast if companies refuse to transport anything through the area. China has to realize this, and I don't see how they think they could win an armed conflict. Japan's navy is powerful enough to be a powerful deterrent despite lacking aircraft carriers, and Taiwan’s is smaller but still estimated as being roughly equal to that of Chinas. Which leaves out entirely what anyone in the west might do if Beijing pulls the trigger on a war against either of them. True the US is tied down in the Middle East with ongoing warfare in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but those conflicts will end. Predictions on when China and the US will be at war vary, but they are probably seen as our next major opponent by most Americans, and quite possibly by the Chinese themselves.


Just a couple weeks

Just a couple weeks before i can devote a bit more energy to this blog, and in theory get Blogspectrum up and running again. This blog will also be getting a new template designed by Firehazel expect something unique.



The Pope and the future

So what does the future hold under a man some are calling "a transitional Pope"? It depends upon who you ask. If you ask Benedict XVI himself, he might say:

"... His (Peter's) current successor takes as his primary task that of working -- sparing no energies -- to reconstitute the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his pressing duty. He is aware that showing good sentiments is not enough for this. Concrete acts that enter souls and move consciences are needed."

James Witman
of Ecuador thinks Benedict XVI should do some investigating:

I think the next pope should find out why so many Latin American Catholics are leaving the church for other Christian groups. The Roman Catholic church does not serve the needs of an inquiring person searching for a life closer to Jesus. They find it in groups such as Jehovas Witnesses, Mormons, and evangelical Christian groups. The Roman Catholic church should ask why.

Several world leaders are on record with praising words, others have a slightly more eclectic view of where the Papacy and the world are going.



France did something right!

Of course this was in 1801. But well, they still deserve credit for it. Sure it was a naked power grab on the part of that arch social libertarian Napoleon. And despite a bit of back sliding they have remained largely true to the ideal.


New Pope

A full rundown later, but the next Pope will be this man .

Some interesting links on how a Pope becomes one.


And yet more proof

Yes, the human race really is irredeemable.

Fortunately that's a good thing in some cases.


On Social Security

I ran across this at The Truth Laid Bear.




Stories sans commentary

Dollar dances around the Euro.

Ice happens.

This isn't your mothers Bolton.

Water is Wet.

MNF goes deep.


Seventy percent

Germany's depression rate is on the rise. Since 1997 reported cases of depression are up seventy percent and is now the nations fourth leading cause of missed work. Apparent signs are a faltering encomium, joblessness, and a dislike of their leaders. There are some interesting demographic breakdowns that show seeking treatment is far more common in the western part of the nation that in the formerly communist eastern areas. Unemployment has reached over five million people in a nation that has a population roughly that of California, New York, Ohio and Texas combined.

Gosh, maybe if they'd put there war industry to work and help us out in Iraq, Afghanistan, or I don't know any one of the half a dozen countries in Africa that need someone to kick the jackals out of power they could create a few jobs.



Is history repeating itself?

While I understand that no analogy runs one hundred percent true, I don't think I’m imagining things. Am I the only one who sees China's behavior as an eerie echo of that of Japan's a century ago? Back then, Japan fought two wars almost expressly for being seen as a regional, if not world power. They did it for respect in the same way school yard bullies will pick fights just for the sake of looking good and not over anything worth fighting for. Currently China is rattling its saber at two, or three nations and making all sorts of noise while simultaneously building up its defenses. China is taking pains to appear warlike and has reiterated its "One China" policy so many times in the last year I suspect newsies could probably stay home from the press conferences and just change the dates of their reports. With all the time they spend spitting at Japan, the US, and Taiwan it’s amazing that the entire Chinese government hasn't collapsed from dehydration yet.




As we all know by now, Lebanon has had some serious issues in forming a new government since the bombing death and suspected Syrian assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Haririand. President Bush is his typical cowboy manner made the following statement to our good friends in Syria the other day:
"When I say, get out of Lebanon, I mean out of Lebanon with all your troops and all your security services and all the people trying to influence that government"
Which sorta lays it all on the line. This is just more fuel for the rumors that have been circulating for quite some time that Syria could be the next nation to come to understand "peace through superior fire power". Although why we aren't polishing our guns in the direction of Bush's good friends in Saudi Arabia entirely escapes me.

The current interim Prime Minister is, while still viewed as Pro Syrian, apparently better liked by the international community, and has more broad based support right at home. Najib Miqati, a wealthy businessman, and former government official could become a large force with in Lebanon, and the region if he can hang onto support until elections come about.


Yet More Reasons

To learn a new language.

India and the US have announced a new deal that will drastic increase the flow of flights between the two nations. Not only will more flights be allowed between the two countries where there are more than two million passengers a day traveling, but non stops flights will be added, as well as more cities. Houston, and Minneapolis are among those announced for US cities. True, most of the people coming even to the US even to visit from India already speak English, but one should never take things for granted.

My question about this is: How well is India going to do with security for these new flights?

Just because we've made it far more difficult to take a plane in an American city, doesn't mean that international flights are significantly safer than the were before 9/11. While undoubtedly the airline industry can use this new infusion of revenue, I hope we aren't letting ourselves in for a similar style attack to the ones on the World Trade Center.



Tolo in Afghanistan

It's things like this article that drive really make the point about how different America and Afghanistan really are. Some of the highlight are:

The debate over programming on the five private TV stations in Kabul highlights a major difficulty facing the new Afghanistan: trying to balance democratic freedoms and a largely conservative Islamic society. The constitution protects freedom of expression and prohibits anything that is against Islam. This inevitably leads to conflict, because what is against Islam often depends on who is watching.

That's pretty much what I expected. Anyone who thinks the rest of the world is going to just copy our constitution, change the names and dates and go from there is probably in need of a few good deep breaths to restore oxygen flow to the brain.

Tolo TV, which premiered in October, features women as VJs on "Hop" and as commentators on other programs. At some point, the women will take off their head scarves - shocking in a country where women still cover their hair with scarves or wear burqas, which cover everything, even a woman's eyes.

Again, not hugely shocking, but still very different.

But the clerics, also called mullahs, are demanding change of a different kind. They want the TV stations to stop showing cleavage, women singing and dancing, and anything resembling sex.

Yep, they have their version of the far right, unfortunately these people have their own government agency, oh wait, we have the FTC, nevermind.

"It has put a lot of pressure on us," he said. "But we have not censored or banned that program yet."

And that line is very important if they want to keep progressing and move forward enough to stop another Taliban from taking control, even in the face of the following controversial remark from one male host to a female.

"He says, `Your shoes are very good. Can you hold up your legs so everybody can see how good your shoes are?'" Sancharaky recalled. "`Hold up your legs' has a very bad meaning in our language."

I think, "hold up your legs" has about the same meaning in every language.

Interesting piece though.


Let's get this out of the way...

We're into the second quarter of the year and I don't think I've complimented our Dear Leader President Bush yet, shame on me. Ten thousand lashes with a wet noodle.

That said, it appears that either Bush, or Bush's advisors have actually picked someone with a functioning brain and who knows the Middle East to be an Ambassador to Iraq. True, Zalmay Khalilzad is an Afghani (the country he's currently serving as Ambassador to) and not an American, but he does seem well regarded in the area. On the flipside, we've just vacated a post critical to helping keep Afghanistan stable. Good luck to Zal in his new position. Of course not everyone likes the man but that's to be expected.


Fall out among the pews

It pretty much had to happen, but the scale of it is surprising. Surprisingly small. From the looks of things, the American Episcopalian Church may become just that. A separate church, and not a branch of the over all Anglicans faith. While the global body does not have the power to sanction any national church, it has shown its displeasure. While the global community has been upset, less than twenty parishes have actually left the American Anglicans community since they elected an openly gay bishop.



The FBI's latest

This is a link to the FBI's latest counter terrorism tool, it should be taken seriously.



Something funny as hell...

Not for the easily offended, or Michael Jackson fans.




I'm actually spending a good deal of time looking for new talent for Blogspectrum. I did find one, and we will live as soon as i get about three more.




Thanks to my ISP and real life blogging has suffered. Quasi-semi-nearly-regular blogging will resume soon.



All Pope All The Time!

Links to stories for those who may care...


Videos and speeches

And who will be next?

Where in the World in the Next Pope from.



More Abstinence only news

While its not news to anyone who can tie their shoes that Abstinence only programs are as valid as flat earth conjecture the Government website 4Parents.gov has come under fire for advancing just such theories. Why can't we have a government useful to anyone but comedians and the media?



Say what?

Granted I don't have any children of my own, but if some twenty one year old, with a child told my fifteen year old daughter:

You are going to be mine, or you are going to be dead,

The odds of said $%!# getting back within one hundred yards of her for a very long time without me being there are miniscule. I suspect most people feel this way. Yet according to Luis Santiago, that's exactly what Alfred Bishop said to his daughter, and less than two days passed before the high school sophomore was killed by Bishop. Bishop was even playing with the gun that was probably used when he made these threats.


Strikes against the Stryker

The Army's newest armored vehicle is being baptized by fire, and it may not survive the experience. The 311 Strykers deployed in Iraq have several glaring failures that need to be addressed in order to let the men and women aboard them do the job they expect themselves to do. Among them the armor and or the automated tire pressure system need to be tweaked. Currently when the armor is added to it, the automated pressure for the eight wheeled device fails. Further the armor does not protect against all the weapons it is supposed to. POGO reports state that the armor is only effective against one out of three types of attack. Next up is the seat belts. In a full kit our troops can't use them. This after safety presents problems that are almost certainly lowering combat efficiency. But perhaps the most egregious of the problems with this fruit of a multi-billion dollar program is the fact that its main weapon a grenade launcher does not hit its target while in motion.

From Yahoo:

Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes, director of Army force development, said the Stryker has been "extremely reliable" since it went into action in October 2003.

"The Army should not put inadequately tested equipment in the field, as it creates a false impression that the troops are properly equipped to fight in combat," said Eric Miller, who investigates defense issues for the oversight group.

While I realize no system is perfect, and that Major General Speakes has to do his part to keep morale up in the military, I hope he is keeping an open mind and paying attention so that he can lend his weight to getting things up to speed.



He passes

A great player has passed from the stage. The Papacy is empty, and smaller.



Update on the Pope

It appears the Pope is entering his final decline. Americans may best recall the Pope was shot and nearly killed here in the early 80's, but should not forget John Paul the Second is one of the longest holders of the Papacy.

His current condition is described as "grave" and several quotes from the articles indicate he is lucid but failing rapidly. One of them is:
"This evening or tonight, Christ will open the gates to the pope," Angelo Comastri, the vicar of Vatican City, told thousands of anxious worshipers gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said:

"We'll pray that the Lord -- who must love this man very much, because this man loves him very much -- that the Lord will take him peacefully to himself, if that's his will right now,"


Mass Senate does something right

In an ambitious move to help save lives, create jobs, and lower bureaucracy the Massachusetts Senate approved a bill to speed stem cell research. With just two dissenting votes the Senate made a push that is a direct challenge to the Governors avowed position against this bill. What the bill does is remove the hurdle of going through a district attorney to get approval to work with stem cells. Why it is that lawyers who are also often politicians are supposed to know better than doctors and medical researchers is beyond me. No doubt Romney who has launched a radio campaign against the bill will veto it, and probably wallow in the sewer he is known to dwell in where he'll pitch the usual litany of far right mouth noises "baby killer" and all the rest. Yawn.


Like warm butter

George W. Bush who has vehemently claimed for years that US policy will not be decided in the court of international opinion, has shown his spine and the claim to be as firm as this posts title. Having once claimed to want the Sudanese to try their own war criminals he is now allowing the Condoleezza Rice, and others to melt away from the position. What kind of hypocrisy is it that he will not stand up for the sovereignty of another nation. He's decried the UN and the international communities interference with the US, and how we handle our own criminals, and here he is opening the door for further UN meddling with our trials. The Sudan has certainly poorly suppressed the genocide, but now that they are taking steps towards responsible self-government I think we as Americans should stand by them. This starts at the top, or should. But Bush had done this before, recant, recant, recant.


Pope failing.

No, I'm not about to launch into a rant about how the Vatican has failed on the world wide clergy sex abuse issue. I'm simply going to point out that during treatment for his infection the Pontiff's heart stopped. They were able to revive him, but its obvious to everyone that he is not going to be in this world much longer. His twenty six year ascendancy in the Catholic Church is drawing closer to an end. For all who revere the man I offer my sympathy.

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