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Military Science Fiction Interview - Walter Knight (America's Galactic Foreign Legion
Happy Friday all A fellow Penumbra author was kind enough for an interview, so here it is. Have a great weekend everyone!
What’s your name and what are you here to promote?
Hello everyone in the Great Frozen North. My name is Walter Knight. I wrote the 20 book science fiction series “America’s Galactic Foreign Legion.” I also wrote “Vampire in the Outfield” and “Zombie Missouri.”
Tell me a little about you books.
“America’s Galactic Foreign Legion” is about a compulsive gambler who joins future America’s Foreign Legion to pay off debts. It’s a parody using humour, military science fiction, tame conservative politics, history, media, pop culture, and gambling themes. The politics draws the most heat from readers. For example, there is a scene where an ATM machine is bombed. A police officer suspects vandalism by peace activists, calling them a violent lot. The series enjoys modest popularity, selling over 37,000 copies.
“Vampire in the Outfield” is about a rookie baseball player who discovers he can hit and play better after being bitten by a vampire. Of course, he still has a problem with day games, and the ‘Evil Empire’ New York Yankees. ‘Johnny Black’ makes a deal with the Devil so his vampire image can be photographed and broadcast on TV. It’s a fun read.
“Zombie Missouri” is a humorous look at the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of a horny teenager. It’s just not fair that the end of the world came just as he was about to graduate high school and finally get a girlfriend.
Follow up comment:
37,000 is very impressive! I haven’t even sold 3000 yet. Having the time and ability to write quickly is a great thing. Like must authors I’d love to quit my day job and work solely as an author, someday I hope .
Favourite TV show?
“Breaking Bad,” about a high school chemistry teacher and a student who go into the meth making business. I love well written long series that have consequences for its characters. I also love it when the bad guy gets killed, horribly. I believe in truth, justice, and automatic weapons.
Follow up comment:
I absolutely love “Breaking Bad”. I am fascinated with the study of evil and Walt is about as evil as it gets. The show always surprises me abd the actors are all amazing. Still you root for Walt and I’m going to be sad as hell when it ends in a few weeks. It’s a strange thing now as I’m super-excited to see the next episode but it’s bittersweet as each one brings it closer to the end.
Have you always been interested in writing?
Not really. In 2008 I started writing “America’s Galactic Foreign Legion” while on a road trip to Reno. I stopped by a roadside Vietnam War memorial park in Oakridge, Oregon. Dedicated to a local boy, Sergeant Maximo Yabes. A Medal of Honor citation on a granite block read like a John Wayne movie. Sergeant Yabes charged enemy machine positions firing grenades and his own machine gun. He shielded and saves many wounded, and was repeatedly shot, and knocked down by grenades. Just when you thought it was over, the citation continues with more heroics. Finally Sergeant Yabes ran out of blood and dies. It was inspiring.
I’m always reading science fiction or history, so it all came together on that trip. By the time I got to Reno, I was more interested in writing than gambling, almost. I quickly wrote “America’s Galactic Foreign Legion – Book 1 – Feeling Lucky.” However, I could not interest large publishers, so I wrote a sequel, “AGFL Reenlistment.” Still, publishers were not interested. Angry, but still passionate, I stopped submitting queries to publishers, and continued writing, finishing nine more AGFL books.
In late 2009 I submitted all eleven books to Penumbra Publishing, a new small publisher. Editor Patricia Morrison was weary. No one had ever submitted that many books at one time before. Penumbra Publishing published the series, and the rest has been a dream come true for this new author. I write fast. As Pat edited and published my series, I wrote eleven more books. Sales have been great, and Penumbra is enthusiastically publishing everything I write. After signing with Penumbra, I had to reject other publishing offers. When it rains, it pours.
What do you think is the best part about being a writer?
Writing groupies. I get E-mail. Writers need constant praise, and I’m no different. Most mail is from military veterans and people who like my humor and lack of political correctness.
Follow up comment:
I have gotten some unusual e-mail’s and some hateful reviews, so I know what you mean. I agree writers are often a narcissistic bunch and I certainly love to get reviews and positive feedback,
What’s the worst part of writing?
Some people hate me. Partisan politics takes no prisoners. I write about a future where America takes humanity across the galaxy to fight alien empires. Humanity rides on American space ships because no one else could do it. Some people can’t handle that. I also make fun of liberals and Democrats. I try to be fair and balanced. I write parody. I make fun of everyone. My goal is to entertain. But for some, any dissent is not allowed.
Do you think the future is in E-books? Or will print make a comeback?
Amazon Kindle E-books are 90 percent of my business. If it was not for Amazon, I would not be published. It’s a brave new world for new authors. The New York publishing elite are no longer the self appointed gatekeepers of what gets read and published. Like the explosion of cable TV, niche books written by new authors are finding very profitable E-book markets. Sure, I sell paperbacks, but the E-book is my main business model. There will always be paperbacks, but the genius of Amazon is taking E-books to the world. I even sell my books to Europe through Amazon, and to Canada, aye.
Follow up comment:
This has been debated on mailing lists and websites, so I won’t get much into it. I agree Amazon has changed everything and the ability to reach people all over the world is a good thing. I think having a monopoly is never good and I hope other companies will continue to offer other formats. I hope print will always be around but I think it’s popularity will continue to decrease as children grow up reading on mobile devices.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished “The History and Conquest of Ancient Rome”by Nigel Rodgers. I was doing research for “America’s Galactic Foreign Legion – Book 20 – Time Machine” currently on the editor’s desk. I also recently read “Killer Angels” about the Battle of Gettysburg from the perspective of individual soldiers.
My favorite author is Harry Turtledove, an alternative history writer. His ten book “World War” series about aliens attacking Earth during World War II is great.
How do you feel about promotion? Any tips for other writers?
The best book promotion is to write a sequel. As you author each new book, your books gain notice and credibility. Social media can be a fun way to meet people and show off your work, but I’m not so sure that translates to sales. My advise to new authors is to visit websites you would visit and enjoy even if you were not an author.
Favourite person (living or dead)?
President Teddy Roosevelt, because he kicked ass everywhere he went. The man was a cowboy, police commissioner, politician, soldier, author, naturalist, explorer, and world leader.
What do you think is the biggest problem in the world today?
People who see evil, but think someone else will clean up the mess. Terrorism and evil regimes will not go away by themselves. America, the UK, and Canada have saved the world several times, but the rest of the world is not much up to it.
Anything you would like to add?
Thank you for the interest and interview. Readers can view updates, sample chapters, cover art, biographical information, and video on my website at www.waltknight.yolasite.com. Penumbra Publishing has committed to soon publishing my books in audio book format. It’s exciting times.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, best of luck with your book and hey I’m a writer too. E-mail me anytime if you want to chat TheNLVampire@gmail.com thanks again! J
AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH APEX REVIEWS, June 2010:
Recently Apex Reviews reviewed Walter Knight's AMERICA'S GALACTIC FOREIGN LEGION - BOOK 2: REENLISTMENT. The reviewer was also gracious enough to interview Walter about his humorous military science-fiction series...
Interview with Apex Reviews
RE: America’s Galactic Foreign Legion
APEX: Walter, thanks for joining us for this interview. We’re looking forward to sharing more about your book and efforts with our readers.
WK: Thank you, I appreciate it.
APEX: What was the inspiration for this quite imaginative military fantasy thriller?
WK: I wanted a vehicle for my humor. I love science fiction, my favorite authors being Harry Turtledove, L. Ron Hubbard, and Piers Anthony. Combine that with my passion for military history and casino gambling, and America’s Galactic Foreign Legion was born.
APEX: Is Joey based on someone you know or have known in real life?
WK: Joey R. Czerinski is of course a work of fiction. Nobody could be that cool. I suppose I can identify with the compulsive gambling part. Gambling is not a problem unless you lose. I give Joey a lot of flaws, and he is not all that honest of a person. But, like most heroes, he did not start out trying to be a hero. Joey just wanted to survive the day, and not be killed by loan sharks or spider-like aliens. Promotions and the responsibility of command wear on Joey, but he has a lot of other flawed legionnaires to help him out. My intent was to be humorous, and that starts with interesting characters.
APEX: What inspired you to feature such a creative menagerie of characters - including talking ATMs?
WK: The beauty of writing a military science fiction parody is that you can get away with writing a lot of absurd stuff. My psychotic talking ATM will do anything to meet its Foreign Legion recruitment quota, including pressure tactics, changing identifications, calling the police on potential recruits, signing bonuses, and lowering standards.
The most fun I had with characters was the aliens. My aliens change as they come into contact with American culture and Joey R. Czerinski. It is funny stuff for my aliens to become addicted to Starbucks coffee, bet on sports events, abuse alcohol, smoke cigarettes, get in bar fights, eat fast food at McDonald’s, wear Nike sportswear, watch American TV, join the Legion, and shop at WalMart. I was very proud when later in the series when my aliens rioted, rushing the front doors at WalMart on Black Friday. It’s a fine American tradition, and the aliens become more American every day.
APEX: What kinds of responses have you gotten to the book so far?
WK: The most common response is that America’s Galactic Foreign Legion made them laugh out loud. If a book can do that, you’ve got your money’s worth. I have been pleasantly surprised at the wide range of response of readers. A friend who hates lawyers thought it was hilarious when Joey dropped a rock from space on a lawyer’s house to get even. Another reader was amused when an alien secret police general tried to disguise himself as the Director of Social and Health Services to avoid being shot for war crimes. Another said he was a librarian, even though we wore a Nazi type uniform that gave him away. My favorite part was when legionnaires try to hide a nuke in a dumpster, and a spider bum objects, threatening to call the aliens’ Habitat Protection Agency. Later the legionnaires sell the nuke, accepting a check. There is some discussion about whether aliens can be trusted to not bounce a check in a war zone. It’s absurd, as I said before. These are examples for the first book, AGFL - Feeling Lucky. The second book is only just now out.
The only poor response I got was the alien human sex scene (yuk). It was quick (only one page) and not graphic. I was trying to be funny. Humor can be a difficult thing.
APEX: Please share more with us about your publisher Penumbra Publishing.
WK: Penumbra Publishing is a small but honest publisher. The thing that impressed me about Penumbra during the query process was that when they answered, they did not respond with the usual form letter. Instead, before committing to AGFL, Penumbra did a free quick edit for content and grammar. WOW. In an age where a first time author is lucky to even get an answer from a publisher, that is quite a response. I understand Penumbra is busier now, and might not be so free with their time, but I was impressed.
Patricia Morrison is a talented editor, and she cleans up my grammar and sentence structure. I am truly amazed at the final product. She can be kind of tough. Patricia thought my alien lawyer wearing glasses and carrying a brief case to be absurd and unrealistic. I agreed. When she realized I was not writing serious drama, she found AGFL amusing, and Penumbra committed to a three year project. Nobody had ever queried with a dozen books at one time before. It took me two years to write that many books. After my first query rejection, I just kept writing until my large body of work could no longer be ignored.
APEX: Reenlistment is actually the second installment in the America’s Galactic Foreign Legion series. Please share more with our readers about Book 1, Feeling Lucky.
WK: America’s Galactic Foreign Legion - Feeling Lucky is the first of a thirteen-book humorous science fiction series. It starts our with Corporal Czerinski and a handful of inexperienced legionnaires sent out to fight the aliens on a distant colony. Some will steal anything that is not nailed down. Others want fun, travel, and adventure. Joey just wants to survive, get rich, and get even. He shoots and bombs the ATM several times, but it just won’t die.
APEX: What are your long term writing / publishing aspirations?
WK: America’s Galactic Foreign Legion will be a three year project. The thirteen books are already written. Book 3, AGFL - Silent Invasion, is being edited as I speak. These books will be coming out every few months. I do not know if I will write a book 14, but I have started page 1.
APEX: In addition to being an author, you’re also a traveler. Please share more with our readers about your pursuits.
WK: I love cross country road trips and exploring casinos. Fortunately there is no shortage of roads and casinos in our great country. I love to explore ghosts towns. My favorite ghost town is Belmont, Nevada, located in the exact geographic center of Nevada. It is the only ghost town I have ever seen that has a domed courthouse.
APEX: How can our readers learn more about you and your ongoing efforts?
WK: I am continuously posting sample chapters and updates for just-published books on my website: www.waltknight.yolasite.com. Check out the alien and the chapter about “The Frunk.”
APEX: How can readers contact you directly?
WK: My website has my E-mail address on it: email@example.com. I also like to frequent writer blogs, such as W.M. Morrell’s Musings From Down Under. www.quillfeather-blog.blogspot.com
APEX: Any final thoughts you would like to share?
WK: I hate it when science fiction novels portray a future America that has failed. I also do not like it when authors try to beat me over the head with their politics. I tried to create a future where America conquers the galaxy. I tried to make it funny. Humor can be a difficult thing. I truly believe that if humanity is to ever cross the Galaxy, it will be in American starships. Is that politically incorrect? I think world famous science fiction author Piers Anthony was most accurate when he graciously described America’s Galactic Foreign Legion in the January 2010 issue of his online newsletter, “It’s wild, improbable, but great adventure.” I had a lot of fun writing the series, and hope readers have fun reading America’s Galactic Foreign Legion.
APEX: Thanks again, Walter, and best of continued success in all your endeavors!
CONTEST - "The Frunk" wins
AMERICA'S GALACTIC FOREIGN LEGION CONTEST 2-23-10
DESCRIPTION - A fan can submit one stand alone chapter of approximately a thousand words, compatible to be inserted somewhere into the 13 novel science fiction series America"s Galactictic Foreign Legion. Entry in this contest is free and mostly for fun. The winner will get the bragging rights of having his / her name acknowledged in one of the AGFL novels, and having their winning chapter used in that same novel.
STORY BACKGROUND - America's Galactic Foreign Legion is a humorous 12-novel series depicting America taking humanity and American culture across the galaxy to battlle spider-like aliens. Book 1, AGFL - Feeling Lucky, has already been published. Books 2 through 12 are written but still being edited for content. Its main protagonist is a paranoid compulsive gambler Foreign Legion officer who is constantly at odds with the hated spider enemy, even after a peace treaty is signed.
TOPICS TO BE WRITTEN ABOUT - At the conclusion of the first novel "Feeling Lucky," humanity and the spiders have divided planet New Colorado, but are forced to live together across a DMZ in a fragile truce. Their cultures clash, both influencing the other. Topics of cultural conflict I have already written about but that you may also write about are American TV, casino gambling, American sports, voting, immigration, Starbucks coffee, alcohol, drugs, Nike sportswear, skateboards, real estate booms, gold / oil rushes, environmental impact statements, the Endangered Species Act, KFC, McDonald's, Taco Bell, Walmart Superstores, interspecies sex, border disputes, prisoner abuse and torture, Hell's Angels biker bars, terrorist insurency, Teamsters Union, and mental health issues caused by the stress of it all.
The aliens in AGFL are very upset about how American culture has contaminated their own culture, as evidenced by their youth wearing the Nike swooshsticka. Young aliens don't give the famous "human pestilence" symbol a second thought. America's Galactic Foreign Legion's response to alien complaints is, "Too bad ugly spider dudes, get used to it." I had a lot of fun portraying aliens addicted to Starbucks coffee and waiting in line for Walmart shopping. Fun misunderstandings abound. When blue helmeted Legion Peacekeepers show up, the spiders think it's just another crazy human pestilence holiday: Christmas. They want to celebrate, too. The cultural conflicts that can be explored are limitless.
REASON FOR THE CONTEST - I have no shortage of ideas to write about and do not need a contest to get more. My books are already written, although there is plenty of room to edit in more content. I was inspired to do this contest after I donated two free chapters to an author friend who appeared to have writer's block on her novel. I found the experience fun, rewarding, and a chance to write something other than science fiction. Many of you may never write a book, complete your current writing projects, or see your name in print. Finding a good publisher can be very difficult. This contest is a chance for you to at least contribute to a small part of a novel that will be published. Penumbra Publishing has committed to the series. Go for it! Also, writing a science fiction chapter will be good practice, exercise, and a morale boost to help you in other projects.
3-29-10; WE HAVE A CONTEST WINNER
"Paul Groppel," a fisheries biologist from Alton Illinois, inspired a full chapter about "The Frunk," a contagious disease that causes panic and needs to be quarantined before it makes the jump from humans to aliens." The aliens' overreaction is funny stuff. Details about Paul will follow as I chat more with him. The chapter Paul inspired will be in America's Galactic Foreign Legion (Book 13) Salesman From Mars, and Paul will be put into the books credits. The following in an unedited posting of the chapter, and a sneak preview of Book 13.
Chapter 14 "The Frunk"
Food Management Sergeant Willard Philpot left the Legion dining facility late. It had been a particularily annoying day because of all the grief and backtalk he got from those two recruits assigned to KP punishment detail. Now, Sergeant Philpot just wanted to go back to the NCO barracks, shower, and relax. No such luck, Sarge.
Shaky Jake stepped from the shadows in back of the kitchen building and threw a web over Sergeant Philpot. Falling, Philpot’s last lucent memory that night was looking up at an alien spider dousing him with a can of Walmart anti thug nerve agent.
With Philpot bundled up and unconscious, it was a simple matter for Shaky Jake to carry the sergeant to the New Gobi City border fence. Crossing at pre-cut holes, Shaky Jake quickly ran for the cover of bushes. Removing Philpot’s clothes, dog tags, and all other identification, Shaky Jake left the slumbering mess sergeant lying in the middle of a roadway frequented by Arthropodan marine border security patrols.
The Arthropodan marine team leader immediately called for the Intelligentsia Security Police and a medic. The human pestilence was unconscious, breathing irregularly and suffering from unknown injuries or ailments.
“You did good to call me,” advised the first spider medic on the scene, as he did a quick assessment of the fallen human pestilence. “Do you see that cutaneous condition affecting his integument system generalized on his buttocks?”
The team leader cautiously inspected the pimple on Philpot’s ass. How nasty, he thought. “The human pestilence has the frunk?”
“Most certainly,” advised the spider medic. “It is my expert opinion that this human pestilence is an infectious carrier of furunculous. We will need to transport him to a quarantine area as soon as possible.”
“But I touched this human pestilence!” cried the team leader. “You’re saying he’s contagious?”
“Don’t worry about it,” said the medic, conversationally, as he handed out rubber gloves and masks. “ Bacterial staphylococci is usually only contagious if the furunculous is chronic. Salve based ammonium bituminosullfonate treatments should cure this human pestilence, but we need to get him to a vet as soon as possible. As a precaution, of course, you will also need to be inoculated and quarantined. Hopefully this human pestilence’s condition is not advanced enough to have gone anal. If so, cryosurgical proceedures to remove his anal sacs will be attempted. But, surgery is always a last resort.”
Sergeant Philpot woke up strapped to a cold stainless steel table. Bright lights caused him to squint as he looked up at a team of spider surgical specialists from the New Gobi City Advanced Institute of Veterinary Medicine.
“Oh my God!” exclaimed Sergeant Philpot. “I’ve been abducted by aliens! Please don’t probe me!”
“When was your last innoculation against furunculous?” asked the lead doctor. “Do you have a history of chronic staphylococci infection?”
“I am a legionnaire!” cried Sergeant Philpot. “I’ve been inoculated against everything!”
“Where is your identification?” asked an Intelligentsia officer standing off to the side. “You admit you are an illegal alien?”
“I was abducted by aliens! If I’m north of the border I don’t know how I got here!”
“Can you prove you are a legionnaire?” pressed the Intelligentsia officer.
“I am Food Management Sergeant Willard Philpot of the United States Galactic Federation Foreign Legion! I don’t know what happened to my uniform and identification, but there is an ID chip imbedded in my ass!”
“Why are his foot claws so gnarly and disgustingly deformed?” asked the Intelligentsia officer, peering closer over the shoulders of the medical team. “Are the human pestilence so uncouth they never manicure their toe claws?”
“Those vicious toe claws are an evolutionary throw back to primitive times not so long ago when the ancient human pestilence climbed palm trees seeking the elusive coconut,” explained the lead surgeon, always eager to show off his extensive knowledge of primitive cultures and species. “See how the feet can wrap around a tree trunk while the claws can dig into the bark for traction, allowing the human pestilence to shimmy up the palm?”
“Oh,” replied the Intelligentsia officer, nodding knowingly. “That explains why the human pestilence plant those damned palm trees everywhere they infest. It’s a food source.”
“Have you ever suffered from foot rot?” asked another vet, this one scraping a skin tissue sample from between Philpot’s toes. “The frunk may have spread to your feet.”
“It certainly smells like it,” commented the lead surgeon. “Human pestilence smell bad enough as it is without being infected. This is terrible. Flip the human pestilence over on his stomach.”
“No!” yelled Sergeant Philpot, struggling against his restraints.
“Resistance is futile,” advised the Intelligentsia officer. “I always wanted to say that.”
In short order Philpot’s bare exposed butt faced the bright lights and scrutiny of the veterinary specialists. The lead surgeon lowered the pull-down lamp with attached magnification lense for a closer examination.
“See how the localized accumulation of interconnected puss in carbuncle networks swells, causing this ulcerative pre-lesion. This warm red puss filled lump is tender to the touch.” To prove his point, the lead surgeon poked Philpot with a scalpel.
“Ouch!” complained Philpot. “I demand to be released and treated by Legion doctors! You are all incompetant fools!”
“Incompetant you say?” scoffed the lead surgeon. “To be thorough, we contacted your medical specialists on the Data Base. Want to know what their response was? ‘Put a bandaid on it!’ Who appears to be incompetant now?”
“Help!” shouted Sergeant Philpot, struggling at his restraints again. “Help! Someone save me! They’re crazy mad scientists!”
“Give him a sedative,” ordered the lead surgeon. “Upon closer examination, I am afraid we are going to have to go in! Prepare the human pestilence for cryosurgery. His anal furunculous has obvious perianal sinuse. Pluck all suspect folicles as a precaution against further infection.
After extensive exploratory surgery lasting for hours, a tiny Legion identification chip was removed from Sergeant Philpot’s buttocks. Spider Intelligentsia & State Security police promptly escorted Sergeant Philpot across the border checkpoint, along with a letter apologizing for any inconvenience that might have been caused by possible misunderstandings, and a warning to always carry identifcation when visiting the Empire. “Have a nice day.”
This excerpt added to one of my books is my response to some literary critics. I thought it fun to turn my legionnaires lose on a critic created by a montage of posts on the Amazon Kindle boards. My the critic die slow and painful, in the grand tradition of the Legion.
A Short Story
I am Colonel Joey R. Czerinski, Hero of the Legion, commander of garrison troops at New Gobi City, planet colony of New Colorado. Besides facing down spider troops across the DMZ, I am responsible for apprehending human desperadoes and fools out on the Frontier.
The Legion received an anonymous tip that the hated self-appointed literary critic 'Craigster' was living in the basement of his mother's farmhouse near the DMZ. I led a platoon of legionnaires and an armored car to apprehend the Craigster. We set up a perimeter around the house as an ugly dog barked a warning.
“This is the Foreign Legion!” I announced on the PA. “Come out Craigster, you Sand Toad! Step away from your illegal Macintosh computer! Do it now!”
Immediately we were confronted by the Craigster's mother, yelling out a window. “My boy didn't do anything wrong! What is this all about?”
“I hold a warrant of arrest for the Craigster, charged with being an obnoxious literary critic, and an idiot out of season,” I advised. “Send that fool out, or we are coming in.”
“You can't have my boy!” replied Mother Craigster. “My boy cannot do prison. He is too sensitive to be among those brutes!”
“Sir,” interrupted Major Lopez. “A records check on Mother Craigster shows her to be a registered Democrat, a history of being shrill and obnoxious, and she boycotts Walmart, buttered popcorn, and lettuce.”
“I am sure that is the only food Big Mama Craigster boycotts,” commented Sergeant Green.
“No wonder!” I exclaimed. “It's hereditary. The Craigster must not be allowed to add to the gene pool or we will be overrun by fools and literary critics.”
“Shall I open fire?” asked Lopez, as he sighted the machine gun. “No sense taking chances. I say we take her out, too.”
“Get the sniper ready,” I ordered. “We will try to negotiate first. Craigster! Quit hiding behind your mother! Come out, and no one will get hurt!”
“Is that America's Galactic Foreign Legion out there?” shouted the Craigster. “You disgust me. I'd rather read toilet paper wrappers than read Walter Knight's drivel about the Legion. I will not be taken alive by America's Galactic Foreign Legion! Not now, not ever, never!”
“Can I shoot him now?” pleaded Major Lopez. “The fool is obviously resisting. I think he's on drugs.”
“Wait,” I replied. “Craigster! You are surrounded and have no hope of escape. Come out with your hands over your head! Disconnect yourself from the Galactic Database. Do it now!”
“Never! I've been reading for forty years, and 'America's Galactic Foreign Legion' is the worst Sci/Fi I have ever read. It's absolute garbage, and I want my $2.99 back!”
“Take him out,” I ordered. “The deadbeat is not getting his $2.99 back, I don't care about Amazon's policy.”
The sniper took a shot, but missed. Sergeant Green opened up with the 50 cal machine gun. Mother Craigster shook her fist in defiance as she ducked for cover.
“Ha!” taunted the Craigster, poking his pointed bald head up through a shattered window. “Besides being poorly written and sophomoric, you are all lousy shots. No one with an IQ of over 50 would read your dialog deprived trash!”
Enraged, I fired the cannon. When the dust and debris settled, Mother Craigster ran out with hands raised, sobbing. “You ruined my living room!” she cried. “Don't you know the insurance won't cover damage from Legion bombing? You fascists!”
“Take her away,” I ordered. “Lock her up in our deepest sound proof dungeon, the one with the hook in the ceiling.”
“Don't hurt my baby!” sobbed Mother Craigster, thrashing about trying to bite Corporal Wayne as legionnaires grabbed her. “I told my darling Craigster to stick to PlayStation and Xbox, but he wouldn't listen. What is a mother to do?”
“Is the Craigster armed?” I asked. “Any information you give us will increase the likelihood we can take him alive.”
“He only pirates movies, including Massacre at Habitat 40,” she advised. “And some farm animal porn he doesn't think I know about. Boyz will be boyz, you know.”
“That pervert,” commented Major Lopez. “We should call in an air strike.”
“Fire tear gas, followed by another blast from the cannon!” I ordered.
This time the explosion started a fire. As dark smoke engulfed the house, the Craigster finally came out hands raised, coughing. Legionnaires immediately pummeled him to the ground, kicking and stomping.
“Stop!” I ordered. “I have written orders for the Craigster to be transported to Old Earth for trial and sentencing.”
Sergeant Williams let out a rebel yell as he pulled the bedraggled Craigster to his feet. The Craigster's eye was swollen shut, and his nose broken. Some teeth were missing, but I think they fell out years ago.
“You big mean bullies,” cried the Craigster. “America's Galactic Foreign Legion lacks the narrative mastery of Starship Troopers! The characters are fatuous and stereotyped, and the plot unbelievable and ridiculous. I could not finish it!”
“We will finish you,” advised Major Lopez, pulling a large jagged combat knife, and sticking it under the Craigster's chin. A small drop of blood appeared at the knife's point. “Bendaho!”
“You cannot even speak Spanish properly,” replied the Craigster. “You can't treat me like this! I have Constitutional rights. I will sue. I'll have your jobs and your paychecks!”
“Get a life,” I advised.
“You get a life!” argued the Craigster. “I'm sick and tired of everyone always telling me that!”
“Please let me kill him,” begged Major Lopez. “He's a waste of air, and a pimple on the ass of society.”
“Private Knight!” I called out. “What do you think we should do with the Craigster?”
“Hang and quarter him, then drag his body parts in different directions,” answered Private Knight. “Let monitor dragons eat what is left.”
“If you had a second choice, something less lethal, what would it be?” I asked, patiently.
“Tie him to a post naked, and let young pigs chew off his testicles,” suggested Private Knight, with enthusiasm. “Let that be a warning to others.”
“That idea has merit,” agreed Corporal Wayne. “If you human pestilence are too squeamish, I will cut it off myself.”
“I have pigs at my hacienda,” offered Major Lopez. “They're always hungry.”
“Enough!” I said. “There will be no testicle chewing or cutting today.”
“Thank God!” exclaimed Mother Craigster. “God bless you, Colonel, for showing restraint. You brutes!” Mother Craigster turned and tried to hit Corporal Wayne again, but he pushed her away with his claw.
“The Craigster will be sent to Old Earth to serve time at a contract prison in radioactive Japan,” I advised. “That should be punishment enough.”
“That is a cruel ending,” agreed Major Lopez, crossing himself. “But, the Craigster and his ilk deserve banishment. I hope he is placed on an all rice starvation diet.”
“You should send his human pestilence mother, too,” suggested Corporal Wayne, as he fended off another attack. “She needs to lose weight big time. An austere starvation diet will do her good.”
“I'll send them both,” I decided, washing my hands of the Craigsters, forever. Once again, Legion efficiency prevailed. We shot his ugly dog, too.
The Craigster departed on a slow transport shuttle to Old Earth. Always the critic, the Craigster complained to the ship captain about the journey taking too long, that there was no reading material or database access, and that the MREs for lunch were toxic and icky. The Craigster even suggested that the captain go back to flight school to relearn his trade if he could not run a better ship. “Your sophomoric performance to date is totally unacceptable,” he added. “I'll be contacting your superiors, of which I am sure there are many!”
The captain ordered the Craigster thrown out an airlock. The Craigster's skin boiled in the dark vacuum of space. No one heard his scream. No one cared. Mother Craigster was saved because she could not fit through the airlock.
By Virtual Pulp Press
VPP: We've got a treat for you this time: some Q&A from science fiction author Walter Knight, who has 14 books (so far) in his America's Galactic Foreign Legion series published. Hank had put some of his books up on Virtual Pulp Press before realizing this was the same Walter who occasionally commented on the Two-Fisted Blog. Welcome, Walter! Tell us about the AGFL series.
WALTER: America's Galactic Foreign Legion is a 14 book science fiction series using humor to depict a strong America taking humanity and American culture across the galaxy to fight aliens on a distant planet colony. AGFL started out as serious “Starship Troopers” type military science fiction, but soon evolved into something else, something special.
I explore the Americanization of space. What does that mean? In the universe I create, after several wars, America is forced to share a distant planet colony with the Arthropodan Empire. They're spiders. In fact, humanity is alone in a galaxy full of various bug civilizations.
America's Galactic Foreign Legion maintains a fragile truce with the spiders across a DMZ, but our real secret weapon is our culture. The aliens succumb to American culture when we bring in the heavy artillery: satellite TV, fast food, McDonald's, Walmart, the Mafia, drugs, alcohol, casino gambling, sports betting, football, baseball, Nike sports products, skateboards, the Teamsters Union, the internet, gold rushes, immigration, Starbucks coffee, cigarettes, MREs, terrorist insurgency, lawyers, democracy, freedom, American music, and sex. The aliens belatedly try to legislate against the Americanization of their culture, but resistance is futile.
I draw a parallel with the Americanization of third world countries in our real world. For example, you have Kentucky Fried Chicken in Baghdad, and McDonald's hamburgers in Pakistan. Rioters in Egypt complaining about American influence carry iPods, and wear American T-shirts and Nike shoes. Iran and China tried to legislate against American influence by restricting internet use and banning satellite dishes, but it's too late. America has already won. It's just a matter of time before the whole world becomes American.
America's Galactic Foreign Legion has been described as politically incorrect, and I will admit some of my legionnaires have issues, and are a bit shady and unethical. Some will steal anything not nailed down, and the lead character is a compulsive gambler. However, unlike other military humor (M.A.S.H. and Catch-22, for instance), my books have a positive American military spin. If humanity ever crosses the galaxy, it will be on American starships. No one else can do it. Is portraying a strong future America politically incorrect? I don't think so. Some people just can't handle a strong America. Too bad, so sad, for them.
VPP: Pontificate a bit on the state of science fiction, where it came from, how it got to the point it's at now, and where you see it going. Also how your books fit into it, and/or into the military sci-fi niche.
WALTER: Science fiction represents about six percent of book sales. It truly has become a niche market. Many publishers will not even consider Sci/Fi submissions, considering the genre unprofitable. Divide science fiction into speculative fiction and fantasy. I do not consider tales of magic and vampires to be science fiction, and it irritates me to see real science fiction forced to share shelf space with such books.
Science fiction is sub-categorized even further into end-of-the-world stories, zombies, space exploration, and military science fiction. I have created even more of a niche market by leaving the Star Trek type starships behind, and writing about infantry soldiers. The humor aspect leaves America's Galactic Foreign Legion all alone among new science fiction.
I am not happy with the current state of science fiction in books and film. Science fiction has been abandoned to liberals, with their sorry tales about failed ecology, Apocalypse America, U.N.-type galactic governments, evil corporations, politically correct female warriors, and anti-military rhetoric. Someone needs to bring back John Wayne. I suspect that Hollywood and the Big Six New York publishing establishment is biased, and suppresses conservative science fiction. At the very least there is a void that I will gladly fill.
VPP: Oh you suspect that, do you? Personally, I suspect the Al Capone mob sometimes engaged in behavior that could be construed as possibly illegal. How long did you try to get somebody in New York's attention before you got published?
WALTER: My story started out similar to many other writers. I sent my manuscript out to every publisher and agent I could find online, getting back many form rejection letters. To my dismay I found that large publishers did not want unsolicited manuscripts from new authors, and required I submit through an agent. These days you almost need an agent to get an agent. Finally an agent in his rejection letter gave me some sage advice. He advised that I write a sequel. He stated that no matter how well I write, one-hit wonders are unprofitable, and no agent will touch them.
No problem. I wrote a sequel, and confidently sent query letters for both books. Still no takers. Upset and depressed, I stopped submitting queries, but I kept writing. During a two year period I wrote eleven America's Galactic Foreign Legion books. I attached all eleven books to query E-mails, and submitted to small online publishers. My plan was to write until I could no longer be ignored.
Penumbra Publishing, a small online company, expressed interest, E-mailing me back a courtesy edit of my first manuscript. That was quite a change from the form letters of the past. Editor Patricia Morrison expressed concern about my aliens not being realistic. She did not like my alien lawyer wearing glasses and carrying a brief case. Somehow in my queries I forgot to mention AGFL was a parody, and I used humor with the military action. Morrison read the manuscript again, in a different light, and asked about marketing. I insisted a series markets itself better than a one-hit wonder. Morrison kept reading, liked the series, and agreed to publish the entire series. I kept writing. We published 14 books in two years.
At first sales were slow. In January 2010 I sold a few paperbacks online and seven Amazon kindle books. I had never even heard of Kindle, and laughed off those first E-book sales. By June 2010 I had three books published, but sales remained slow, a few paperbacks every few days. Then when I got back from vacation in July my publisher advised me I sold 100 Kindle books, and wanted to know what I was doing. Nothing special, just blogging and a few Craig's List adds. The next month I sold 400 Kindle books. Now I knew all about Kindle E-books. My January 2011, with six AGFL books published, I was selling 2300+ books per month. Yes, dreams do come true. Sales have decreased since, but I am still selling about a thousand books per month.
Now is an historic time to be an author or a publisher because of the E-book revolution created by Amazon and their Kindle E-books. New authors like me, small publishers, and self-published authors have equal access to markets via Amazon as do the Big Six New York established publishers. We might even have an advantage because the Big Six has a vested interest in paper books, and has been slow to compete in the E-book market. My paperbacks are POD (print on demand). Those paperbacks are beautiful, but are only a small part of my business model.
It appears I was in the right place at the right time. Kindle ownership from 2009 to 2012 has increased from three to twenty million, and Amazon has gone global. It is an unexpected bonus that AGFL sales in the UK are brisk, in spite of a some 'Euro-trash' jokes I threw in.
VPP: Well good for Penumbra Publishing and Ms. Morrison. What kind of interaction have you had with your readers?
WALTER: I am getting E-mails from soldiers and vets who love my books. Because America's Galactic Foreign Legion is a parody, I was worried I might offend. However, soldiers identify with the military humor.
I have a scene where legionnaires are fighting a bush war on an asteroid when a spaceship crashes nearby, and construction workers put up a mobile MacDonald's. American soldiers are treated to complementary meals, and participate in a MacDonald's commercial for galactic TV.
A veteran of Korea identified with that scene, telling me that Burger King has restaurants set up for the military in Korea, and to this day back home in America he will not go in a Burger King. Many of the scenes I write are inspired by real events and world news. The world is a tragic and funny place.
Reader reviews on Amazon Kindle reflect a wide range of opinion. A college professor from Columbia and a priest from Ohio hate America's Galactic Foreign Legion. Another fellow said he would rather read a toilet paper wrapper. However, most love my books, and find them humorous and refreshingly politically incorrect.
On this issue of political correctness, any time you write about the military, you are going to upset someone, so I decided to write for myself, not others. The positive reviews indicate I made the 'right' choice. I have no intention to be the 'Andrew Dice Clay' of science fiction. As I said before I do not consider my humor to be politically incorrect, and do not engage in racist or anti-gay humor. However, if you are a humorless liberal democrat, you might want to avoid America's Galactic Foreign Legion.
World famous science fiction writer Piers Anthony gave America's Galactic Foreign Legion a favorable review, saying of my first book, “It's wild, improbable, but great adventure.” Piers is a bit of a liberal, but writes science fiction humor, and loved the parody. He is a tireless advocate for new writers.
VPP: The MacDonalds scene sounds like a classic. And that's a nice kudo to get from Piers Anthony. Are you going to continue with the AGFL series or start something else now?
WALTER: I am currently eleven chapters into writing AGFL (Book 15) Lieutenant Columbus. I might write AGFL forever. AGFL-15 is about America using a time machine to save and restore the health of Christopher Columbus as a reward from America for discovering America. Of course, Columbus joins America's Galactic Foreign Legion. This book is a way to tweak the liberal politically correct crowd that hates Christopher Columbus for discovering America.
My ultimate goal is for America's Galactic Foreign Legion to come to a theater near you.
VPP: That fascist pig Columbus! If only Karl Marx had discovered the New World first...
What are your favorite books and authors?
WALTER: World War & Colonization 10 book series by Harry Turtledove, about aliens attacking Earth during WWII. These books inspired me to write a series.
Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard about American resistance fighters battling aliens. This book and the movie is continuously being dumped on, probably because of its patriotic themes.
Mission Earth 10 book series by L. Ron Hubbard. The off the hook humor of this series inspired me to attempt the same.
Ender's Game by Orsen Scott Card. No need to explain.
Guns Up by Johnnie M. Clark is about an infantry machine gunner in Vietnam. It captures the chaos, fatigue, and suddenness of jungle combat.
Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich. The movie 21 was based on this book. This book teaches you how to count cards at a blackjack table, and is very entertaining.
VPP: Many Thanks, Walter, for taking the time to have this dialog!
This helicopter gunship appears closer than it really is.
A letter to a British newspaper:
Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores in July 2002, and in New York Sept 11, 2001 and have continually threatened to do so since?
Were people from all over the world, not brutally murdered that day in Washington, and in downtown Manhattan, and in a field in Pennsylvania?
Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?
And I'm supposed to care that a few Taliban were claiming to be tortured by a justice system of the nation they come from and are fighting against in a brutal insurgency.
I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere possession of which is a crime punishable by beheading in Afghanistan.
I'll care when these thugs tell the world they are sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head while Berg screamed through his gurgling slashed throat.
I'll care when the cowardly so-called 'insurgents' in Afghanistan come out and fight like men instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques and behind women and children.
I'll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of Nirvana care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs.
I'll care when the British media stops pretending that their freedom of speech on stories is more important than the lives of the soldiers on the ground or their families waiting at home to hear about them when something happens.
In the meantime, when I hear a story about a British soldier roughing up an Insurgent terrorist to obtain information, know this:
I don't care.
When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take this to the bank:
I don't care.
When I hear that a prisoner - who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and 'fed special food' that is paid for by my taxes - is complaining that his holy book is being 'mishandled,' you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts:
I don't care.
And oh, by the way, I've noticed that sometimes it's spelled 'Koran' and other times 'Quran.' Well, believe me!! you guessed it ........
I don't care!!
And may I add:
'Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. Our soldiers don't have that problem.'
I have another quote that I would like to add:
Only six defining forces have ever offered to die for you:
1. Jesus Christ
2. The British Soldier.
3. The Canadian Soldier.
4. The US Soldier
5. The New Zealand Soldier, and
We do not have strong politicians, just weaklings that bend in the wind
6. The Australian Soldier
One died for your soul, the other 5 for your freedom.