News for May 2011
The Cooperative Clone
Part two of a two-part interview with William H. Keith, author of Free Fall
Free Fall | Published 31 May 2011

Welcome back to the second installment of our interview with New York Times bestselling author William H. Keith. His first Android-based novel, Free Fall, will be available during the third quarter of 2011!

In Free Fall it is the future, and murder is still an all-too-common occurrence. When an influential lawyer is brutally murdered at the top of the Beanstalk, Earth’s towering exoatmospheric elevator used for interplanetary trade, Captain of Detectives Rick Harrison finds himself on the hunt for a killer. At the center of a deep conspiracy, Harrison’s investigation leads him from the megapolis of New Angeles to the moon base of Heinlein and face to face with a question he never expected: what is the true definition of humanity?

Interested in the first installment of William H. Keith’s interview? Read Questioning Humanity.

Rising to Heinlein

FFG: Can you describe your approach to the Android world?
WHK: My approach was the same as for any of my novels set in the future: total immersion. There’s a lot about the world-background, culture, language, technology, history, art–that’s going to be new to the reader, and it slows down the pace if I stop and explain too much. I do explain what must be explained to follow the plot...but lots of times I leave interpretation up to the reader. That makes the reader part of the process, and I like that.

FFG: How do you feel your experience writing military science fiction novels like your Galactic Marines series affected your writing for Free Fall?
WHK: Well, Harrison, the hero, is ex-military–in fact, Raymond Flint [an Android character] is an old war buddy. He’s also a cop, which means he works under discipline and within a chain of command to protect the public, all of which is familiar to anyone in the military. I’ve not had a cop as a lead character in any of my books up until now, but I felt that I understood Rick Harrison from the beginning–who he was, where he was coming from. And like people in the military, Harrison has to examine who he is and what he believes in a morally ambiguous world.

FFG: What is your favorite section or aspect of Free Fall?
WHK: Aside from the Beanstalk? Probably the opportunity to write a science-fiction detective novel, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. The background of the game is quite reminiscent of the movie Bladerunner, which meant that I got to write in a fairly dark and somewhat seedy dystopia, which I find interesting, but the world also offers the promise of a brighter future through shiny high tech...but not everyone on a very crowded planet is there, yet. Also, Free Fall let me look at a number of aspects of that future including my very favorite: just what does it mean to be human?

FFG: Who is your favorite character in Free Fall?
WHK: Rick Harrison, the hero. All of the action centers around him. He’s smart, competent, loyal, dedicated, and badly outnumbered. His name, incidentally, is an homage to Bladerunner, which Android seems similar to, to some degree. In that movie, Harrison Ford played the lead character, Rick Deckard-hence Rick Harrison.

FFG: Do you remember what the first piece you ever wrote was? Did you show it to anyone?
WHK: Well, if you discount the scribbles in the family encyclopedia made at age 3, followed by various essays, stories, poems, and so in first novel—actually a trilogy—was written when I was 15. It was...horrible, an epic regurgitation of E.E. Smith’s Lensman saga. I excuse it by pointing out that every writer has at least one bad teenage novel he or she must get out and behind them lest it poison any serious creativity later on. I think I might have showed it to my parents. That might have been why I had to leave home at an early age to join the Navy.

FFG: How would you say your writing style has changed throughout the years?
WHK: Well, I sincerely hope it’s gotten better! My very earliest published books were game tie-ins, and while I’ve done a couple more game novels over the years, Free Fall marks the first game-related fiction I’ve done in a heck of a long time. It’s interesting to come back to the field and compare styles. I’m a little more interested in questions of humanity and technology now than I was then, so perhaps I’ve found a little more depth, a little maturity. I’ve had over a hundred novels published so far–I’m valiantly struggling to catch up with Isaac Asimov–so it would be surprising if I hadn’t grown at least a little!

FFG: How do you think fans will relate to your characters?
WHK: Well, that’s up to them. If they enjoy the characters in the game, I think they’ll like Captain of Detectives Rick Harrison. As for the other characters in the book, a lot of them are characters out of the game–Raymond Flint, Commissioner Dawn, Floyd 2X3A7C, Lilly Lockwell, the incomparable Eve 5VA3TC–they’re all there. If the fans enjoy the characters in the game, I trust they’ll enjoy learning a bit more about them in the book, and perhaps identifying with them. Certainly, I think they’ll enjoy knowing more about the characters when they set down to play Android.

Thanks, William! Download Free Fall’s first chapter onto your PAD from the support page. Ping Lily Lockwell for more previews in the coming weeks, 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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