Click here for our interview with science fiction author Mason Freeborn. DOWNEY – Mason Freeborn can see Earth’s future. Well, not literally, but envisioning that is what this 38-year-old science fiction writer does best.
“That’s how I have fun,” he said. “Like the Wizard of Oz, I like to sit behind the veil and pull levers.”
Inspired by American, sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick, who wrote several short stories that later became popular movies like Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report, Freeborn translated his love of science, space, and technology into a book he entitled “Chaos Weaving.”
Completed while on a nearly three-year road trip, the collection of about 50 short stories centers around sentient android life in a world like, yet completely unlike, ours. Freeborn said it’s about envisioning a “far-off future of maelstrom” interweaving into the present.
“It’s almost alternate realities that we could face,” he said. “If we continue down this path, this is the reality of a plague-ridden world, or a world where plastic has taken over and there’s plastic monsters coming out of the ocean. I like to push those envelopes a little bit.”
Freeborn trails the adventures of many andriods, some in love, and others in rage, but all of them crossing the line of robotic sentience.
“In the book, robots understand every word made. They understand love and compassion. They need love, even as robots,” Freeborn said. “I guess I’m interested in that whole singularity thing. When will robots take over and that intelligence factor get pushed?”
Born Alan Karalian, Freeborn is a native of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a suburb 20 miles northwest of Metro Detroit. In 1991, the then-16-year-old moved to Orange County, California, but his interest in science formed much earlier than that.
“I remember being scared by a robot in the 2nd grade. Some elementary school kids built it with cardboard boxes and spray-painted it silver,” he said. “I was scared and intrigued.”
In addition to being a huge Star Wars and Star Trek fan, Freeborn said he also loved remote control cars and everything robotics as a kid.
“It’s not hard to extrapolate that into Terminator,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve always been a passionate science guy that doesn’t have the degrees in science – just tinkering, taking things apart, and making the parents mad.”
That tinkering is perhaps what led him to use the pen name Mason Freeborn.
“In a backwards sense, I like to build worlds, I like to create – and Mason Freeborn sounds like a great creator’s name,” he said. “I want to inspire the kids of the future. I’m old enough now – in my fifth stage of life. My incurred knowledge needs to be put into these books.”
What rolls around in Freeborn’s mind is abstract fantasy that would delight any lover of robotics, technology, and alien space adventures. Standout stories include: a hardware store owner in Alaska blowing up a fissure to draw a sales rush, audio-based bombs, and karma magnets that pull humans toward or away from eternal damnation.
“There are lots of religious and spiritual implications from my stories, but I like to have fun thinking about the concepts,” he said.
Freeborn’s fascination with the topic also inspired him to produce several space-themed albums of instrumental lounge music of the future.
“I come up with so much stuff on a daily basis,” said Freeborn, who admitted to sleeping to sci-fi films every night. “I realized I was losing gold so I got addicted to 3 a.m. sticky note pads.”
Freeborn stopped by Staples and purchased an arts & crafts supply box of highlighters and glue sticks. He now takes every short story idea and glues it inside his notebook.
“I feel like a kid gluing stuff in here,” he said.
In 1998, Freeborn earned his bachelor’s degree in visual arts multimedia from the University of California, San Diego. Ever since, he’s worked mostly in graphic design, but like many others, Freeborn’s life was disrupted after the Great Recession began.
“In 2008, my graphic design business failed and I got evicted from my place in San Diego,” he said.
The eviction forced Freeborn onto a more than two year road trip that included a stop in Downey where the former NASA site provided a backdrop for his sci-fi prose.
“I stayed in a friend’s garage for two months, taking walks with a recorder,” he said. “I’d play with words in my head and read the dictionary [for ideas]. It was therapy in a way for me.”
Freeborn continued: “Having a product shrink wrapped represents two years of my life tittering on the edge of the unknown, but it’s now real.”
While Freeborn knows his work might only be limited to a niche audience, he hopes to enthuse those who may not be the stereotypical nerd.
“Yes, science is nerdy. [But] science is great, and that’s why Bill Gates is the richest man on planet earth,” he said.
While Freeborn may not share in present riches, the artistic wordsmith is more than content telling future stories.
“Chaos Weaving” is now available on Amazon.com and the iTunes Store.
Published: Dec. 25, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 37