The books shown on the left are by Roland Hughes. Click on the cover to order.

This interview was conducted by Teri Davis on
November 19, 2013.

Recently, I had the opportunity to read John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars by author, Roland Hughes. This book is a warning of what could happen if we continue without a complete understanding of our societal choices. Without any further ado, let's get on to the questions!

How do you really believe lives in this country will be different in sixty-eight years?

Roland Hughes: We are currently on a downward spiral as a species. The evidence of that is quite abundant. If you look at history every large scale downward movement is marked by a surge, some would say violent surge in religion. We are seeing such events once again. The warping of Islam to create terrorists. The rise of religious extremists in America most notably as part of the Tea Party. I'm really beginning to question if we as a nation will still exist sitxy-eight years from now.

Once an elite class develops within any society they begin to believe in a sense of entitlement at the expense of others. Typically this leads to a rise in slavery. If you don't believe that then simply read up on the histories of the Roman and British empires. There are credible reports that indentured servitude is on the rise, mostly in the very same countries elitists are off-shoring work to. Throughout history slaves have had a tendency to rise up. The tale of Spartacus comes to mind as a good example. Some might even wish to point out the bible story of Exodus.

Today we have both direct slavery as is documented by several studies and indirect slavery where people are herded into factory compounds and made to work very long hours in horrible conditions for pennies per hour or only a few dollars per day. America has already had such a lesson in our own history yet we chose not to learn from it. If you paid attention in American history in high school you covered the industrial revolution and company towns, usually around mines, which forced people to live under great hardship with no chance at upward mobility. If you think it was ancient history you should rent the movie “A Coal Miner's Daughter.”

This suppression of the so called “middle class” had many violent uprisings. It gave us journalists who were called Muck Rakers and gave us what are today's labor unions. We were lucky, yet the elitists have not lost their sense of entitlement. The factory conditions and even the treatment of technology workers off-shore is going to lead to similar uprisings in countries ill equipped to deal with them in any fashion other than brutality. When that happens those chickens will come home to roost.

Teri Davis: What pivotal event in recent years became the inspiration for "John Smith"?

Roland Hughes: There was no singular event. I wrote a novel titled “Infinite Exposure” putting together a story about what the off-shoring of technology jobs would eventually do to this country and many others. Many people chose to believe it wouldn't happen, then the FBI announced it was investigating a large scale identity theft which was a portion of the attack outlined in that book. This lead to many “what if” type questions.

I watched this whole situation happen. I entered the software development field when computer systems were taking off in a big way. I graduated high school in 1982. During that time many factory jobs were being eliminated as production moved to other countries mostly for tax shelter purposes. The story which was put out to the population around the time Ronald Regan took office was that America would no longer be the builder of simple things. We were going to be the designers and builders of high end things such as computer systems. Many of the factory workers were asked to return to college (or attend it for the first time in their lives) to retrain for these new jobs.

The philosophy was simple. Any job which could be taught to a high school graduate in less than a week if not a day was considered safe to export because these were by and large physical labor jobs. The elitists in our society completely abandoned the agreement along with national security when they not only started off-shoring technology jobs but importing visa workers wholesale. This set off a large scale brain suck which we are now seeing the impact of. Two good examples of this would be Motorola, which was once the dominant player in pager and cell phones, as well as Apple which can barely keep a position in the top 100 innovative companies.

A very famous movie called “Pretty Woman” tried to politely tell us of the impending problem and how to nip it in the bud. “So, you don't build anything or make any product?” “Just money.”

Right now, it is my personal opinion that many of the companies who have off-shored their IT staff, or been feeding on the visa worker market, are in a position where an uprising in any country which is home to these people will leave them drifting without either the knowledge or the staff to maintain those business systems which they take for granted today. You might notice a similarity to Miss Krowley's situation in that statement. In a race to make the cheapest piece of doo-doo on a Wal-mart shelf companies have given up both the skill set and the labor. You can only recover from a single catastrophic loss.

Teri Davis: Why did you choose Braidwood and their nuclear challenges?

Roland Hughes: I live in Illinois. While that place hasn't been in the news recently it was in the news quite a bit when I was a child. Those stories stuck with me.

Teri Davis: How do you establish the ethics that we have been lacking with our technological advances?

Roland Hughes: It has nothing to do with the ethics of technological advances, rather the complete lack of ethics in today's business leaders. During the 70s companies would hire 20-50 graduates and put them through an internal training program for their computer systems. At the end of that program the best of the best would get permanent jobs and the rest would be allowed to seek opportunity elsewhere. The leaders then were the trailing edge of America's greatest generation. They not only wanted to build a company they wanted to build a great nation.

Generations which followed neither fought in WWII nor had parents which did. They believed they were entitled to a rich lifestyle. As a consequence they not only off-shored every job they could, they completely ended the training programs which built a better workforce for the country. It was somebody else's job to do that because it cut into their quarterly bonus. The downward spiral started the day the first company executive began thinking like that.

Teri Davis: Do you truly believe that our country or planet is on a downward spiral?

Roland Hughes: See above.

Teri Davis: Why did you choose November 13, 2013? Is this particular date significant to you in any way?

Roland Hughes: At the time I was writing it was a date in the future, but the very near future. If there is a flaw in the novel “1984” that flaw was its distant date, at least at the time of the writing. I chose a much nearer date, primarily because the first “what if” question was “What if the Mayans marked the beginning of an event horizon but were less than a year off from when it would become visible?” Putting that question in perspective, we have all seen or heard news reports about mud slides in California. Usually those reports say something like “the mud slide started after X inches of rain...” They are incorrect. Generally the mud slide started weeks or months before when the forest fire burned off the trees and other vegetation holding the side of the hill together.

Teri Davis:What authors impacted your writing the most?

Roland Hughes: It's not really fair to name authors and attribute it to them. I will admit the advice to most budding authors is to read constantly, but I don't take it. True I used to read quite a bit when I was a kid, but I don't anymore. At least not books. When it comes to my novel writing quite honestly it is mostly influenced by the combination of great television shows and my high school history teacher Bill Smith. Yes, there was a nod in the name.

Seriously. Shows like Babylon 5, Firefly, Star Trek TNG, Battlestar Galactica and a few others. These shows don't just have great actors who develop a connection with the audience, they have incredible concepts created by great writing. Science fiction allows you to play the “what if” game all the way out. Take Firefly. Yes they have space travel, but when they get to the outer worlds everyone rides horses because that is all they have.
It used to be said an author was the sum of what he/she read. I believe we become the sum of what we immerse ourselves in. For me that was great science fiction shows. For others it is meeting others and the relationships they develop as a result.

Teri Davis: What do you believe is positive in with our use of technology?

Roland Hughes: The use is neither positive nor negative. It is a human problem and a mentality currently held by the elitist class. Make no mistake. America does have an elitist class and the concept of class warfare is not just a myth in the media. The outcome of our last presidential election should have warned the Republican party, which is mostly backed by the eletist class and the Tea Party. It didn't. They are still trying to cling to elitist ways and enforce elitist policies. (It may shock you to learn I was born a Republican.) I fully expect the 2014 elections to pretty much end the career of every incumbent Republican. I'm not alone. You can hear it on the news. There are even rumors that John McCain has said much the same thing. There was even an op-ed in the New York Times from a long time Republican supporter after the last presidential election claiming it was the end of the Republican party.

Teri Davis: What are you doing in your personal life that is an example of the changes needed in society?

Roland Hughes: I'm working on another book write now as part of the NaNoWriMo project. It is called “Lesedi” and fills some of the gap between “Infinite Exposure”. On a personal level, I watch more documentaries now. “Food, Inc.” and “Wal-mart – The High Cost of Low Price” are two every human being should watch. On a more personal level I have mostly stopped watching CNN in favor of the PBS News Hour. I listen to NPR when I listen to the radio. I've even contributed financially to public radio stations as well as some OpenSource software projects such as LibreOffice and Linux Mint. They are small things, but they add up.

Teri Davis: Many of your novels are self-help information regarding computers, why did you choose this particular format and method for writing a novel?

Roland Hughes: Those aren't novels, they are technical reference or skills improvement books. “The Minimum You Need to Know” is a registered trademark book series. You are probably familiar with the “for Idiots” and “for Dummies” book franchises. Perhaps you have even purchased a few. I think we can agree that titles in those franchises are more “your first baby steps” than job training. “The Minimum You Need to Know” is for professionals who are going to be working with the covered technologies on a regular if not daily basis. I'm told “The Minimum You Need to Know to Be an OpenVMS Application Developer” has become the training manual for new hires at some companies. I can certainly tell when the summer intern season starts given the repeat orders.

Teri Davis: What current writing projects are in your future?

Roland Hughes: As I said, I'm working on “Lesedi.” I'm also working on at least one other book in “The Minimum You Need to Know” book series. I have an on-again off-again project I'm working on called “Twenty of Two.” That particular project is an attempt to create an interlocking trilogy. Most trilogies are linear in time. Some have a first book, then they come out with a prequel before coming out with the final book. This trilogy, if I get back to it and complete it, is an attempt to be like rings on a dartboard starting at the bullseye and working out. You might say, in some ways it is trying to do on a larger scale what Paul Harvey and Peter Jennings were famous for doing. Paul Harvey always had “The Rest of the Story” where he took something from the news and told the larger story around it, the story of NASA and the ice cream cone patent was a great one. Peter Jennings used to travel to a foreign country to report on a story then play the map game. He would blindly put is finger down on a map of the country, some reports say the map was even moved or spun, then the whole crew would go there and just start interviewing people. These reports inevitably told more about “the why” than other reporting did. They broadened the vision and perspectives of the American people. We are certainly starving for such reporting today. Journalism has basically been abandoned for ratings.

Teri Davis: Thanks once again, Roland, for agreeing to do this interview with me!