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.