News for April 2011
Questioning Humanity 3
Part one of a two-part interview with William H. Keith, author of Free Fall
Free Fall | Published 11 April 2011

In the Android based novel, Free Fall, it is the future, and while the world has changed, crime has not. When a lawyer is murdered at the top of the Beanstalk, Earth’s exoatmospheric elevator for interplanetary trade, Captain of Detectives Rick Harrison takes on the case. Harrison’s investigation leads him to the center of a conspiracy, and on the hunt for the killer, he is faced with the one question he never expected: What is the true definition of humanity?

Fantasy Flight Games will be releasing Free Fall, the exciting futuristic detective novel, in the third quarter of 2011. Today we’re thrilled to provide you with the author’s own words on the upcoming novel. New York Times bestselling author William H. Keith agreed to join FFG for a two-part interview, answering questions about his writing process and more for inquisitive fans!

Exiting the Earth’s Orbit

FFG: What is your favorite part of the Android world?
WHK: The Beanstalk, definitely. This is the first game I’ve ever seen that includes that concept, which is a long-time favorite of mine in science fiction. Space elevators are going to provide us with a relatively cheap means of reaching orbit, and the moon and planets beyond that, as well as let us get heavy industry and power production off the Earth and into space where it belongs. Any game (or book) that spreads the gospel about how cool the space elevator will be is going to be a favorite of mine.

FFG: Who would you say your favorite character is in the Android world?
WHK: That would have to be Floyd 2X3A7C, who actually puts in a cameo in the book. I happen to believe that one day soon machine intelligence will match, then surpass human intelligence, and that will vastly complicate our view of what the word “human” means. One of the things I like about Android is the way it looks at clones and bioroids and, most importantly, the human reaction to them. I find Floyd 2X3A7C’s periodic discussions with a priest on what it means to be human a wonderful touch. It makes him so...human.

FFG: What is your favorite aspect of translating the Android board game into a novel like Free Fall?
WHK: Any game-related novel has both the luxury and the duty of taking the game universe and expanding upon it. I’ve designed roleplaying games in my checkered past, and can say from experience that you can’t waste the players’ time with dissertations on physics or your love of science or history or anything else except what makes the game work. Android is extremely rich, with a lot of cool detail...but the rules simply can’t fill you in on a lot of the background that’s begging to be experienced. If they were, the rule book would be, well...a novel.

For example, in Android we have the Beanstalk space elevator located in the sprawling city of New Angeles. For the purpose of the game, that’s pretty much all you need to know. The players might assume that “New Angeles” is located where Los Angeles is now, and that’s fine. It doesn’t affect the game play.

But a space elevator, by its very nature, must be located on Earth’s equator. Any place else on the planet simply won’t work, and I’m a nuts-‘n’-bolts science fiction writer who tries to get his science right. So when I wrote Free Fall, I found a mountain directly on the equator - Cayambe, the third-highest peak in Ecuador - and anchored the Beanstalk there, with New Angeles sprawling out to the west across northern Ecuador. That, in turn, suggested a lot of the history behind the place. What was a city that felt like Los Angeles doing in South America? What does that mean for politics, for trade, for population demographics, for local business and industry, for transportation, for how the police force and government work? I got to explore all of that, one way or another, in Free Fall, when it would have simply been a distraction in the game.

FFG: What part of Free Fall was the most exciting to write?
WHK: I would have to say the climax, when the hero and heroine are…but do I want to give that part away? Suffice to say a lot is happening all at once, and I got to bring some hard physics into the story without (I hope) getting too geekish about it. I was on the edge of my seat when I wrote it. I hope the fans are too when they read it!

FFG: Who do you find your writing style to be inspired by?
WHK: Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein. What, you were expecting me to say Ernest Hemingway and Anton Chekov? Those three have been my favorite science fiction authors since I was a kid. In fact, I want to be Heinlein when I grow up.

FFG: Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring writers?
WHK: Easy. Write. Write lots. Don’t be discouraged by rejection, even if you find yourself wallpapering your office with rejection slips. Write...no matter what you feel like or what’s on the tube right now or whether you feel like you know what you’re doing or not. Style, wit, and readability all come through practice.

For a time, I was an adjunct faculty member at a local college teaching a master’s degree course in genre fiction. It was a good program, but I often felt a bit dishonest while I was there since my attitude was “don’t waste your money on a writing course; write, fer chrissakes!” What...you want a life? Then maybe this career choice isn’t for you. My life is writing! Oh, did I say? Write!

The second part of the interview with William H. Keith, author of Free Fall, is approaching. Have your clone watch for it in the coming weeks, get ready for the exciting conclusion, and pre-order Free Fall today!

Free Fall is the first novel based on Fantasy Flight Games’s Android, and it tells a story of murder and conspiracy in a dystopian future. This rich universe is masterfully brought to life by New York Times Bestselling author William H. Keith, winner of the H.G. Wells Award and multiple Origins awards, and the celebrated author of over 150 novels, short stories, and other published works.

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Comments (3)

Sturm
Published: 4/12/2011 11:25:01 AM
#3

I've been a big fan of WH Keith since his Traveller days and looking forward to this.  But I believe the first game to include the concept of a beanstalk was Traveller 2300 AD which was published by GDW in the late 80's.

Harbinger07
Published: 4/11/2011 9:51:10 PM
#2

I'm very excited to grab a copy of this book, the Android world is so cool!  Any possibility of downloading this book in various ebook formats (for the Kindle or Nook)? 

JerusalemJones
Published: 4/11/2011 6:18:24 PM
#1

So excited about this! I love cyberpunk (and hence Android) and beanstalks are, well, cool. Plus, when he mentions he put the beanstalk and New Angeles in Ecuador, it reminded me of David Gerrold's novel Jumping Off the Planet, which is also has a beanstalk in Ecuador (but a completely different story), which I loved.

And being a third quarter release means sometime between July and September, so after I read A Dance with Dragons. Maybe.

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