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January-June, 2006

Posted By: Randy Merkel, Paso Robles, CA - 06/29/2006 05:15:20 PM

I recently reread Forge of God and Anvil of Stars, in reverse order for some reason. This time I noticed some differences from the lead in to Anvil in the last chapter of Forge. I'd like to say I thought it was a good idea to drop artificial gravity. Artificial gravity is just so "Star Treky" ;)

One thing that intrigues me is the programming of the killer probes. You want them to look for possible civilizations, but not to accidentally come back home like boomerang. So you might want to program them to know where home is, but you don't want somebody to capture one and discover it's origin. That's quite a pickle for the probe designers. I can think of the following possibilities:

1. Don't program the origin in the probes and then be "very quiet" after you launch them. The problem is that the probes would eventually start coming back if they search the stars randomly.

2. Program the origin in the probes but add some sort of self destruct device if they get captured. This device would have to be pretty much perfect.

3. Program in the desired search direction or pattern that generally points away from the origin. Many probes would have to be captured in different systems to deduce the origin.

4. Add a secret communication channel that would disable any probes that found there way home. The trouble is somebody else might capture a probe and figure this out.

None of these seem very satisfactory, Any thoughts?

P.S. Anvil suggests that the benefactors ships are programmed in much the same way to protect them!

Response: Programming a Killer Probe
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/29/2006 07:19:34 PM

Very good thinking, and great questions, Randy! We'll just have to wait and see...

Posted By: Greg Kingsley, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma - 06/29/2006 05:07:27 PM

Have you ever considered working with Ben Bova on
anything? You and he are my favorites in Sci Fi.
Two such incredible minds would cause a SuperNova!

A video-taped dinner with you and he would be a
great interesting reality show!
(for one night, of course)
Can't put such great people together without some
explosive science and human interest.

Invent a "transmorgafier" (calvin and hobbs) and I
would volunteer to be the fly on the wall during
that dinner!

Thanks Greg, I am buying your new hardback.

Greg Kingsley

Response: What's next?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/29/2006 07:18:04 PM

That would be fun. Ben was very important to my career back in the seventies--he was responsible for buying the two stories that got me my two ANALOG covers, "A Martian Ricorso" and "The Wind from a Burning Woman."

Posted By: Kingsley Yin, Burlington, NJ - 06/28/2006 08:44:07 AM

Dear Greg,

There have been so many emails concerning the "Darwin" books. All have been most interesting. I am curious about one thing. Although there are many well published SciFiction authors, there appear at least to my meagre knowledge, few who write in the Biological field/theme. Yourself and Stephen Baxter are two, but I cannot seem to think of others.The overwhelming majority write stories in the general world of Physics. I realize these are VERY general classifications, but to me they are helpful. This is because when I pick up any SciFi book, I would like to know the general field/theme of it. I have read all your books which have a strong Biology theme and they sit in their place of honor in my library. I would however like to add some others (apart from Baxter), but appear quite lost.

Response: Biology Science Fiction
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/28/2006 10:43:01 AM

Recently, Nancy Kress, Gwyneth Jones, Mary Rosenblum, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Joan Slonczewski, and a number of others have tackled substantial biological themes in their novels. But you're correct, Kingsley--a number of readers have classified my near-future biotech novels as "thrillers" and not SF, whereas an astronomy or physics-oriented story would have more easily slipped by. An interesting divide in the scientific culture!

Response: Biology Science Fiction
Posted By: patrick - 06/28/2006 12:36:17 PM

Greg Egan is a hardcore bio dude, having degrees in such, and speculating very intensely into new states of being from sometimes simple embarkations.

Response: Biology Science Fiction
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/28/2006 01:52:38 PM

Take a look at TERANESIA by Greg Egan, as well as DARWINIA by Robert Charles Wilson. Some years ago, I edited NEW LEGENDS and purchased Greg's fine story "Wang's Carpets." And a brother novel to BLOOD MUSIC (both were published in 1985) is Paul Preuss's HUMAN ERROR.

Response: Biology Science Fiction
Posted By: patrick - 06/28/2006 04:01:16 PM

....actually, in my mind, I'd confused Egan's story with Paul J. McAuley's, 'When Strangers Meet', which is also in that anthology, and I thought of both of them at the time, but couldn't recall McAuley.

Response: Biology Science Fiction
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/28/2006 04:09:07 PM

Paul McAuley also has biological training, and his work should be added to this list! Any more? Thanks, patrick.

Response: Biology Science Fiction
Posted By: Terran, Florida - 06/29/2006 02:07:05 PM

Frank Herbert used evolution and biological disaster in quite a lot of his books, often with a sociological perspective. That is, what would people do in the face of this biological or environmental crisis? "The White Plague" dealt with a man-made virus that killed off most of the women on the planet, "Hellstrom's Hive" featured controlled evolution of humans (breeding, I suppose), and "The Jesus Incident" and its sequels "The Lazarus Effect" and "The Ascension Factor" dealt with humans coping with alien biology as well as a highly evolved spaceship with a God complex.

Response: Biology Science Fiction
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/29/2006 02:22:25 PM

Science Fiction Museum recently inducted Frank Herbert into its Hall of Fame. Frank also pioneered ecological themes in science fiction with--of course!--DUNE. I remember reading the Ace paperback of DUNE on a schoolbus in 1967 and having one of my fellow students--a comely female who, to my knowledge, never read sf--saying she had been hearing a lot about this terrific novel... The buzz was pretty hot about Frank's achievement even then!

Response: Biology Science Fiction
Posted By: Paul Shen-Brown, Arcadia, CA - 07/17/2006 03:01:54 PM

James Alan Gardner's book "Hunted" has a good take on the power of pheromones, though in his story it is an alien race modeled loosely after bees. It makes good food for thought, and is very, very funny.

Response: Biology Science Fiction
Posted By: Keith Leyland, St. Helens, UK - 07/26/2006 03:47:57 PM

I've been reading science fiction since I was 11 which was soooooooo long ago and I don't remember too many biology-themed books in the genre. However, Kingsley, if memory serves there are a couple by a guy named Charles Eric Maine. The titles escape me but they are certainly medical in nature. Worth a look maybe? Regards.

Response: Biology Science Fiction
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/26/2006 04:29:12 PM

James White's Hospital Stationseries certainly qualifes in the medical category, as well. Thanks, Keith!

Posted By: Ruth W. Block, Santa Monica, CA - 06/26/2006 03:06:01 PM

By chance I have read Darwin's Radio, so wonderful a book! For at least half of the book I found myself struggling to understand the "science"...looking up concepts, etc., while enjoying the scientists and academia I so well know. Aha! Here comes Sheva and what she can do and I'm astonished that I am reading "science fiction" which I do NOT customarily read because I want to experience books. Sure, my life is nothing like "Brothers Karamazov" but I recognize it in endless depths in me, the reader, because it is grounded, it is connected to me and to you. Darwin's Radio really makes it but now I am frustrated because I do not know where the science we now know ends and Sheva's genome begins.

And while Im on the subject...some of the Fantasy I've dipped into (gifts)should have denials on every page...most of the kids who read that stuff think it is actually history, truth.

Response: Background Science in Darwin's Radio
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/26/2006 03:44:08 PM

Thanks, Ruth! We do indeed need perspective on the difference between fact and fiction. What science fiction has always done for me is take me beyond that last limitation--the limits of my own existence, or any conceivable human experience. Sure, it's not entirely real--but it stimulates parts of the brain most other forms of fiction can't reach. If you haven't already, you should definitely try the essays and short stories of Jorge Luis Borges for more mind-bending excursions on the borders of fact and fiction. And then try my novel MOVING MARS, which is, after all, only the tell-all autobiography of a young woman...born on Mars, a century and a half from now. (And by the way, an infectious endogenous retrovirus, like Sheva in some respects, has been found in wasps. They express it to infect and subdue caterpillars. A weapon in their own DNA! This was not known when I wrote DARWIN'S RADIO.)

Response: Background Science in Darwin's Radio
Posted By: Terran, Florida - 06/27/2006 05:41:14 AM

I don't think science fiction or fantasy is any different than any other form of narrative literature - in order to understand ourselves (individually, and as a people), we must step outside ourselves. Good science fiction and fantasy simply explores what we might do in extraordinary situations, which is the same thing that nearly all entertaining, intriguing, and thought-provoking literature does.

Posted By: Thomas P. Doyle, Tucson, AZ - 06/23/2006 04:43:32 PM

Dear Greg:
I just saw on your site that you have written a sequel
to "Darwins Radio" (one of my favorites). Excelsior! Your take on evolution is every bit as interesting as Sturgeons "More Than Human" and that Arthur C. Clarke work (whose title escapes me) where demonic looking
aliens are sent to shepard humanity's quantum leap to becoming a new organism. I would tell you to keep up the good work, but as always, you will. But the real purpose of my letter is to discuss an author with you. Many authors are easy to categorize: Geniuses with prolific output such as your dear departed farther-in-law (god rest his soul),
authors whose madness translates to brilliance such as Philip K. Dick, side splitting humorists such as Vonnegut and John Sladek, great hard science fiction writers that use technology and still are able to competently convey a story such as Vernor Vinge, Frank Herbert, Hal Clement and
yourself, Authors that combine humor with hard SF such as John Varley and Dark visions dealing with the possible such as Lucius Shepard (who I consider a modern-day combination of Kafka and Konrad). But the one author that I consider totally and completely uncopiable is the strange little mind of Cordwainer Smith.
Now don't get me wrong, Dr. Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger had nothing close to a small mind. His combination of education and experience alone made him one of the greatest intellectuals attracted to the field. It is almost incoceivable that a man who was a linguist and asiatic studies expert could create the bizarre, humorous, and absolutely believable universe that he did (Gardner Dozois thinks that his vision may be timeless). There is no "Space Opera", no true hard science fiction, and none of the standard sci-fi devices that are commonly found among other writers in the field. And not only is his vision unique, his prose style is absolutely uncopiable. It is a shame that like Dick, Herbert and Cornbluth he passed away at a much too young an age. Who knows what classics he would have written given more time. I raise my glass to him and to his wonderful stories.
What is your opinion of this author?

Your loyal fan,

"Big Tom" Doyle

PS: Maybe I will take your advice on my earlier message. What source would you recommend for generating a proper manuscript (ie...Strunk and Whites)?

Response: The Strange Little Mind of Cordwainer Smith
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/23/2006 04:54:24 PM

Thanks, Thomas! I love Cordwainer Smith--he's one of our masters, and every bit as wonderfully unclassifiable as, say, Dick or Bradbury or Sturgeon. The Sir Arthur Clarke novel is of course CHILDHOOD'S END.

Manuscript form is generally explained in in the Writer's Digest books on writing--but simply, a book manuscript should be typed or printed double-space in a legible font (Courier or Times Roman might be best) on 8 1/2 by 11 white paper, with around an inch of margin on each side. Ragged right (no justification) and no fancy typography! (Things were so much simpler with typewriters...)

Posted By: Ryan Costa, Memphis, TN - 06/22/2006 10:00:25 PM


I remember some future socio-economic conditions briefly alluded to in Darwin's Children. Would you write a speculative near-future book built around consequences of global climate change? Something James Kunstler lite would be pretty entertaining.

Response: Global Climate change
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/23/2006 10:17:34 AM

Actually, Kim Stanley Robinson is doing a fine job of this in his novels, FORTY SIGNS OF RAIN and FIFTY DEGREES BELOW. Check them out! (DARWIN'S RADIO begins with glacial melting in the Alps...)

Posted By: James A McVean, Scotland - 06/21/2006 02:09:18 PM


I have read and Loved The Omnibus book - SONGS OF EARTH AND POWER.

I have also read a couple of your Sci-Fi novels...

Do you have any thoughts or intentions to write any more pure fantasy??

May the gods of inspiration keep the dark stuff flowing from your quill...


James A McVean

Response: Fantasy?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/21/2006 02:20:46 PM

No pure fantasy in the works for now--but the urge still lingers! CITY AT THE END OF TIME will pick up on some of the ideas and themes in SONGS OF EARTH AND POWER, however...

Posted By: Eckhard Freuwoert, Germany - 06/20/2006 02:21:16 AM

Dear Greg Bear,
I've read two of your books, 'Darwin´s Radio' and 'Darwin´s Children'. They are fantastic! And I had two times trouble with my wife because I could not put away these books... But I have questions about 'Darwin´s Children'. You described the feelings and the communication of the SHEVA children in a very realistic way which is considerable similar to the feelings and communication of synaesthetes like I described it in my own fantasy novel 'Norgast' (which was published in Germany this year). At another place in your book you mentioned Vilayanur S. Ramachandran who is a leading scientist in real existing synaesthesia (others are Richard E. Cytowic or Peter Grossenbacher, who calls synaesthesia the next step in evolution). For that reason: Where there any connections between synaesthesia and the SHEVA children when you wrote 'Darwin´s Children'? Did you take the real existing communication between synaesthetes as a model?
Regards and greetings from Germany
Eckhard Freuwört

Response: A question about Darwin's Children
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/20/2006 10:10:58 AM

Hello, Eckhard! As I recall, Kaye Lang studies a number of texts with reference to her own experience of epiphany, which may have synaesthetic components. The Shevites themselves are much more consciously smell-sensitive, and develop language that reflects this ability, but I don't otherwise see much connection with synaesthesia, a fascinating condition in its own right. Is NORGAST available in English?

Response: AW: A question about Darwin's Children
Posted By: Eckhard Freuwoert, Germany - 06/21/2006 09:20:05 AM

Hi Greg,
Norgast is only available in German language - sorry! You wrote 'The Shevites themselves are much more consciously smell-sensitive, and develop language that reflects this ability'. In a sense it's the same with some synaesthetes who are trying to find their own words (or should I say their own language?) for the perception of synaesthesia. The synaesthetes are not smell-sensitive but sometimes they are using a special kind of minimum message communication. That was the reason for my question. As I read 'Darwin´s Children', I thought of some parallels between the Shevites and the synaesthetes. Thanks for your answer!
Best regards

Posted By: Rob Bryanton - 06/19/2006 10:20:34 PM

Hi Greg, several months ago I told you I was working on a book called "Imagining the Tenth Dimension: a new way of thinking about time, space and string theory", some parts of which have connections to ideas you have exposed me to over the last twenty years. At you will find an eleven minute animation which explores the basic concepts from chapter one of the book, and there is also a forum where people can discuss and debate the ideas presented on the website and in the book. I hope you enjoy the site.

Thanks for being such an inspiration to me!

Rob Bryanton

Response: Imagining the Tenth Dimension
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/20/2006 10:03:27 AM

Thanks, Rob! Here's to getting feedback from more readers!

Posted By: Lisa, Colorado - 06/16/2006 02:25:48 PM

Hi Greg,

I just finished "Darwin's Radio" and have a question for you. What was the purpose of the Neandertal's facial mask? Why would they need to change anything about their facial features to bring one of us into the world? We are dapple deprived! Loved the book and can't wait to read "Darwin's Children."

Take Care!

Response: Transformation
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/16/2006 05:32:39 PM

Hello, Lisa! Facial masks and other changes help the infant imprint on its parents and give the parents a (temporary) ability to adapt to the new type of offspring. Speculative, of course--but how would YOU like to discover so early that your parents were so primitive? Thanks for your kind words!

Posted By: Alex Morse, Texas - 06/14/2006 11:15:11 AM

I've noticed a lot of recurring themes and imagery in your books. I'm impressed that you can take some of the same basic ideas and give them a new feel or aspect in different stories. I never feel like I'm reading a rehash of an earlier story despite there being many similarities in the details. I have a couple questions on the concepts I see recurring most often.

1) bell continuum/descriptor theory/noach

I swear I've actually heard similar theories before but I can't find anything lately. Are these concepts mostly original to you, or were you influenced by other theories? If the latter, where can I find more information about them?

2) Snakes/serpents/worms

I've seen snake like beings appear in several places. The "clean up crew" in Dead Lines, the cooperating race in Anvil of Stars, one of the alternate reality races in your Scattershot short story. I'm unclear if you have a fondness for snakes, or an aversion to them. Are you using the imagery to play on some of our more primal fears, or is your use something more personal?

Please never stop writing. I've enjoyed every story of yours that I've read and look forward to many more.

Response: Of Snakes and things
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/14/2006 12:39:51 PM

Hello, Alex! Descriptor theory is not unique to me--a computational view of physics has been attempted before, from Frederick Kantor's INFORMATION MECHANICS in the sixties to John Archibald Wheeler's "Its from Bits" ideas more recently. I don't know whether there's a good bibliography of works and citations on the Web, but these names would be a good place to begin your search. Most recently, Stephen Wolfram's A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE tackles all sorts of fascinating and controversial issues.

I did indeed expand the snakes from "Scattershot" into the Brothers in ANVIL OF STARS. The "clean up crew" (good phrase, that!) in DEAD LINES are eels, not snakes. Big difference?

Story-wise, I've noted similar deep structures in some of my work. Most strikingly, "Scattershot" and "Hardfought" have pretty similar deep structure. But analyzing a work at this level can induce puzzlement in some readers. I got in some trouble in the 1970s for breaking ALIEN down to its psychological basics as a feminist nightmare! With "Mother" allowing into the house a highly phallic "bad boyfriend" (at the behest of her "favorite son," Ash) who proceeds to rape and kill and impregnate all the remaining children, both male and female... Deep structure, indeed!

Thanks for the kind words and deep thought, Alex.

Response: Of Snakes and things
Posted By: patrick - 06/16/2006 08:50:14 PM

Alien a feminist nightmare! Hahahaha, you're the man!!

Response: Of Snakes and things
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/18/2006 06:39:04 PM

Not the phrase I would have used under the circumstances, Patrick!

Posted By: patrick - 06/10/2006 12:59:45 AM

What has it been like interacting with various other authors, particularly in light of personal differences (such as with Pournelle)?

Response: Schmoozing with other writers....
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/12/2006 10:16:38 AM

Hanging out with writers and other creative folks is usually a delight, *especially* when there are disagreements. (No physical altercations, so far.) Jerry has always been stimulating, even when we (almost) violently disagree--and on a number of occasions, his insights have been crucial. He's got a terrific political instinct which I have been known to tap into both for character studies and for structure and dynamics in my social systems. What I've learned over the years is to listen closely to people who disagree with me--because re-assessment is crucial to mental health. When the listening stops, and beliefs get set in concrete, little bits of the brain start dying.

Response: Schmoozing with other writers....
Posted By: patrick - 06/12/2006 12:08:09 PM

Yeah, I agree. For example, I frequent Dan Simmons forum, and someone started a thread on 'common books' (for those of you who don't know - and I didn't, before this - it's like a type of clip book for writers to put down little tidbits of whatever they encounter, to refer to later), and another person posted a link to a blog ( that had on it a posting about comebacks to someone who asks 'when are you going to write a real book?'

Coming from the agreed point of view of listening, I said - both in address to the forum post, and at the blog: This is egotism. The emotionally intelligent person would think for a second, then ask the question, "What do you mean by real?"...and proceed to learn something.

In the blog, surprise, it didn't get posted.

Also, I just want to mention that it's immensely fascinating to be able to interact with people like you and Dan (in your blog and his forum). Both of you are starting to get, or getting (and Dan, in his monthly messages is really creating some circumstances), some controversial addresses from readers and such, bringing out some things in you we might otherwise never know of.

Posted By: Armand Gagnon, Springfield, Oregon - 06/07/2006 08:43:27 PM

Hello Greg Bear,
I just finished THE FORGE OF GOD and I was amazed at the surprise ending. So often in novels, sci-fi or otherwise, the "bads guys" never win. Your originality and scope is very uplifting and this alien invasion novel belongs in a unique class all unto itself. The mecanical robotic chromium spiders and scouring out of the Earth's crust and mantel's interior are sheer joy to behold! Though it was written in 1986, much of the religious overtones of fanaticism based on fear (as was delineated in U. S President Crockerman) seem to be quite a propos in today's times. Thank you for such a frightening as well as enlightening work of literary genius. I am off to read more of your books. Thank you so much.
Sincerely, Armand Gagnon

Response: The Forge of God
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/08/2006 09:47:09 AM

Thanks for the kind words, Armand!

Posted By: Cpt John H. Smith III, Baghdad, Iraq - 06/04/2006 02:37:26 AM

Dear Mr. Bear,

I an intelligence officer in the US Army, currently deployed on my second tour in Iraq. I read a lot while I'm here, because when I have down time on the road, a book is my best friend. We have a sort of library at our camp where people exchange books. I noticed a copy of "Darwin's Radio" and decided to give it a try. While I have read a great deal of science fiction, I have to admit I had never heard of you before. But the book caught my interest because I also happen to have a great passion for anthropology. The book was absolutely wonderful and totally original. Probably the first real thriller based on anthropology and starring an anthropologist as the lead man - a rare thing indeed (stories about whip-wielding archeologists don't count). You bring up some concepts that are not mainstream, like homo sapiens evolving from Neanderthals, but I have no problem with that, because if punctuated equilibria did occur the way you describe it in the book, all old assumptions would have to be reevaluated anyway.
I particularly liked the part when Kaye Lang was about to give birth, and Dr. Galbreath told her no anesthesia, no eyedrops for the baby's eyes, etc, saying "it's a whole new ball game". The idea of discovering a new human in our midst, and having to learn everything about them from scratch, would be like an anthro's dream come true.

I liked the book so much that I ordered the sequel through right away. But while "Darwin's Children" was a great novel as well, there were some problems for me. My feelings were so mixed that I felt I had to write you. Simply put, it was way too political. The book was written during an election year and it shows. The few obvious barbs in the first book turned into full-blown partisan rancor in second book (something we already get too much of in the media as it is). It's pretty obvious you are very angry with the Bush administration, the Patriot Act, and Fox News. When someone else on this site mentioned your Republican-bashing, you claimed these were only opinions expressed by the characters in the book. But its far more than that. For example, you outright say that the Republicans were the ones who gutted the medical supplies in the Sheva clinics (therefore leaving 75,000 children to die). In fact, every single Republican, religious conservative, military member, or Fox News person are portrayed in your book as bloodthirsty, greedy, bigoted, idiotic, or all of the above. On the other hand, ethnic minorities and Democrats are consistently portrayed as good guys (at least you weren't sexist; your men and woman characters were pretty evenly split between hero/villian). I'm not going to tell you how to write a book, because you obviously know how, and you do it very well. And I realize you can't please everybody, and it makes a pretty contrived story if you have to count your villians and heroes and make sure they are equally represented all around. But just FYI, a story does lose some credibility if it reads so slanted it feels like it was offically edited and approved by one political party's national committee. And it also risks alienating many people who might otherwise want to read your works. Even though I was dying to see how the story turns out, there were a few times I almost stopped reading the book in frustration at some of these cheap-shots. The line where the Fox News official says "science makes my head hurt". C'mon... didn't you think that ridicule was just a little childish and over the top?

Just to let you know, I'm in the military, a Christian, usually vote Republican, and often watch Fox News. But I love science, hate bigotry, and I would never support taking children away from their parents as described in the book on pure speculation that they might be infectious (and certainly not for 15 years!). And even if I was ordered to, I also would never shoot at helicopters that are simply delivering needed medical supplies (like the national guard does in your book), or shoot at children who are not threatening anyone. Nor would any of the other Republicans or miltary buddies of mine that I know. I also can't help pointing out that it was actually a Democratic administration that produced the closest US historical parallel to the events in your book, namely the internment of the Japanese during WWII.

And on another topic, the other problem with the book is a sin of omission, not commission. "Darwin's Children" left so many things questions unanswered that it begs for a sequel. What kind of baby did Helen Fremont eventually have? If Ms Cross is such a nice person, why was her company harvesting Sheva children's organs and bones? If the "Shevites" are technically not human, wouldn't the law have to be rewritten to include their citizenship and "human" rights? What are the ramifications for the future, when Shevites grow up and become and integral part of society, even entering politics themselves? What about Shevite vs. Human violence, even wars? Finally, since I'm assuming they wouldn't ALL be nice people, I'd be very interested to know what kind of villians or criminals would a Shevite society produce? That could be frightening.

Anyway, in spite of the above thank you for such a great read. I plan to try some of your other works.

Response: Hello from first-timer
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/04/2006 06:54:12 PM

Thanks, John! Your letter is so good, it's going to get a long response--perhaps too long! I know you have better things to do over there. Apologies in advance.

First, in my defense, I have to point out that a number of conservatives fare pretty well in DARWIN'S CHILDREN. The two Virginia law enforcement officers in the first few chapters seem sympathetic to Shevite families, and opposed to the thuggish ways of certain government agencies. Those gentleman are doubtless conservatives, and probably Christians. Many Christian conservatives head for the hills to protect their Shevite children, and Mormons actively resist as well--a point that was noted with somewhat puzzled approval in Utah when I was touring to promote my novel. ("How could you know we'd act that way?")

Scientists in both novels cross the line back and forth between being good and bad, blowing with the winds of inadequae information--just like the politicians. So--let's be fair, John.

DARWIN'S CHILDREN was essentially plotted by 1997-98. The parallels between what I described while writing it during 2000-2002 are pretty chilling today--the book, I think, remains convincing and up-to-date.

But I'm far from being a knee-jerk Democrat. I call myself a liberal because they're pretty rare these days, but I appear actually to be a rugged individualist in the mold of the young Philip Wylie. I believe in the separation of church and state, a woman's right to choose, the constitutional protection of an individual's rights against the majority's knee-jerk response to threats real or perceived, and many other old-fashioned but highly threatened ideas.

If I have any bias, it's against entrenched aristocracies--the combination of money, power, and privilege with politics. I am very much against self-styled elitists of any stripe, and my novels have reflected that often--compare QUEEN OF ANGELS, SLANT, and MOVING MARS. (In THE FORGE OF GOD, the overwhelmed, dysfunctional president is a Democrat.)

Recently, a fellow author described me as a Libertarian conservative in the mold of Jerry Pournelle! Jerry is a good friend, who's put me in the way of many marvelous opportunities--but we disagree on many issues.

So how can I be both a knee-jerk Democrat and a libertarian conservative? In truth, I'm neither.

I actually write my novels from a biological and anthropological perspective, and that's why Republicans come off rather poorly in DARWIN'S CHILDREN. Since before the 1930s, the Republican party has positioned itself as America's immune response, if you will--working against anything radically new or from the outside, including Jews, immigrants, and civil rights. Republicans led the charge against Communism--which resulted not only in Joe McCarthy, but also the eventual elimination of that particularly nasty strain in American politics and culture, and the crumbling demise of the Soviet Union--not bad things overall--but with a lot of collateral damage to our nation, real harm, like a poorly targeted immune response! Inflammation and tissue damage, if you will. Anybody in an ER will tell you how dangerous the immune system can be--it can kill you, if it isn't properly balanced and controlled.

Which party could most aptly be described, today, as the party of hate and suspicion? Ask gays, lesbians, Mexicans, Muslims...or liberals!... which party they feel most threatened by.

Mary Cheney, a good Republican, is out fighting for her rights even now, standing up against her President, who still throws red meat to his super-conservative base.

And yet, without an immune system, this nation would no longer exist.

Despite all this--Bush is probably one of the least racist Republicans we've seen in generations. History is full of contradictions.

Which is why my novel cannot be read simply.

As for Fox News, I've heard a lot worse commentary while actually listening to that channel. Even now, THE DAILY SHOW and THE COLBERT report regularly post snippets of over-the-top nonsense from Fox News, and it used to be LOTS worse. To be fair, I'd probably now add CNN's Lou Dobbs--with his incessant, single-issue demagoguery, he's almost as bad.

The threat, however, is much more serious in my novel...Remember, the Shevites are considered by many experts to be perfectly capable of harboring and expressing deadly viruses. How would YOU respond to having a Shevite go to school with one of your own children?

Imagine what we might do if Muslims or Mexican illegals were found to be harboring killer bird flu.

How did people respond initially to children with HIV?

Are there no parallels in America's history--even before the War on Terror--to the "schools" established for the Virus Children? FDR was president when we locked up our Japanese in desert camps. No one is immune to fear.

Toward the conclusion of DARWIN'S CHILDREN, the President and his party finally start to come around, reacting to reports of tremendous atrocities. There is a painful sense of reconciliation in the air.

Balance and reconciliation, after trauma, is how we heal.

There likely will not be a third volume. Too many angry readers have spread the word about DARWIN'S CHILDREN, substantially damaging sales. I must have hit a nerve--total nonsense would not have aroused so much indignation.

However, if I were to write that third volume, your suppositions about the Shevites would be correct--they're human, far from perfect, and capable of evil and violence, just like the rest of us. They'd also become thoroughly political--probably better politicans than any we have today! And Stella Nova would indeed go to Washington DC.

If it's any comfort, John, my novel QUANTICO is dominated by FBI agents, Secret Service agents, soldiers, etc... And their words tend not to be in favor of liberals. Will any Bush-Libertarians and Republicans start taking me to task for these somewhat insulting descriptions, put in the mouths of my characters? I doubt it. There are very few Bush-Libertarians left, actually.

QUANTICO is dedicated to those who put themselves in harm's way, whatever the national policy. That means it's dedicated to you and those around you. I tend to believe that you're doing a hell of a job, under very difficult conditions, and you've all earned the right to chew me out any which way you wish. But please make sure you understand what I'm actually trying to say.

Keep in touch, John, and let us know about your experiences! Your opinions and your service are deeply valued.

Response: Hello from first-timer
Posted By: Cpt John H. Smith III, Baghdad, Iraq - 06/07/2006 10:54:22 AM

Mr. Bear,

Thank you for answering so quickly. The longer, the better, in my opinion. I am busy here yes, but ironically without the demands of family, I probably have more free time here than I do at home. Besides, I am a liasion officer with a Iraqi police battalion, and work along their schedule. They need a lot of babysitting but they are not exactly around the clock workaholics...

I have to disagree that conservatives are fare well at all in the novel. Yes, certain local law enforcement make heroic stands against the feds, but its not made clear what their ideology is. Heck, I've seen local sheriff deputies who looked like they just stepped out of a hippie commune. The President and his party at the end of the second book eventually come around, but unless I missed something, you don't say what party he belongs to. He can't be the same President from DARWIN'S RADIO because it takes place about 15-18 years later.

I also noticed you didn't include mention of protests from left leaning groups other than rather quiet disagreement with the government. But history has shown that if there is one thing the left is, its not subtle or quiet in their protesting! Moreover, they wouldn't all agree that the Shiva children are wonderful either; for example, just like the AIDS epidemic and 9/11, I am certain there would be a significant amount of conspiracy theorists that would believe that the US govt or the CIA secretly created the SHEVA virus for their own nefarious purposes.

I concede that the Republicans would be described by most, (if they have to choose), as the party of "hate and suspicion", but these preconceptions are too often formed by the most extreme elements in that party, not by most of its members. They certainly don't always reflect reality. For the same reasons, I'm sure the Democrats would be described as the party of "weak on defense and anti-military", even though nearly all of the major wars in our history were started under Democratic presidents.

Moreover, its important to keep in mind: hatred of what? Suspicion of what? For example, most Republicans would claim that hatred of those who seek to destroy us, and suspicion of those who took advantage for so long of our lax immigration enforcement, is a healthy thing.

Fox News is no more right-leaning than the other major networks lean left. Part of the proof of this is their popularity; they were sucessful because they took advantage of a particular demographic that the other majors were ignoring. And yes, you bet I've heard all sorts of nonsense said on Fox News, but for each of these I can find an equal or worse one in the rest of the mainstream media. From Iraq, I see this all the time on how the war is reported (Look at the coverage right now on the Haditha killings; the press and editorials are literally flaying the military alive on the incident, before the investigations are even complete. In fact, no one has even been charged yet!) So the question is, why only mention Fox News in your book? It sure felt as if you had a real ax to grind against them. Or are you predicting that in the future there will be no other major networks around?

I'm sorry that your novel was smeared, but to be honest, I can see how a casual reader would think that certain parts were written to outright insult certain groups, and in the Michael Moore style of no-holds-barred politics today, one camp never forgives you if they think you are too firmly in the other camp...

I belong to a sizable web-based anthropology group, and am well-known to all the regular members. I'm going to recommend your book to them, and see what happens. It may attract a lot of notice just because its probably the first time a fiction book has been recommended to the group. I'm sure if they haven't read it already, they will love it. As a somewhat conservative guy, I am kind of a rare bird among anthros; most anthropology professors and students are to the far, far left of Karl Marx!

I already got the copy of "Forge of God" that I ordered, I can't wait to read it.

PS: Another idea, if you ever do a third book in the series - with demes, scent messages and cheek flashing, I'm curious, what the heck would porn for Shevites look like??
Hmmm, maybe forget I mentioned that...

Response: Hello from first-timer
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/07/2006 12:38:58 PM

Alas, extreme elements in any social group are usually the ones who initiate and often direct the discourse. For every idea there is an opposition idea, which is how society and politics works--no matter how sane the idea, a substantial group will oppose it, and that's actually quite healthy--sometimes even "sane" ideas turn out to be ill-conceived. When I go to the media for news, I try to catch many different reports on different networks and compare them with newspapers and magazines. Reading between the lines is a difficult art, but a necessary one--and jumping to conclusions, particularly with something as serious as the Haditha killings, is indeed dangerous.

But we all do it. It can take years for the whole truth to come out. In the meantime, we're all ignorant, angry, and frustrated.

Those of us who have tended in recent decades to vote Democrat or independent have noted for some time that spokespeople and many politicians on the right can dish out the vile epithets and the insults and the simplifications, but they can't take it. Think John McCain's little black baby in Georgia--a phone tree atrocity dreamed up by Bush operatives against a true conservative and war hero. Think Swift Boat. Think Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson. Think the scotched attempt to attack John Murtha. How many vilifications of "liberals" and Democrats--from Rove, O'Reilly or Limbaugh, or, God forbid, Coulter--can we accept before someone fires back?

In truth, the pundits and broadcasters and opinion shapers on the right behave like bullies with a slightly guilty conscience--but that bite of conscience only makes them more vicious. These guys aren't even populists in the mold of the racist Father Coughlin or Joe Pine--they're just by and large corrupt hypocrites with no real philosophy other than self-aggrandizement. They drag down honorable conservatism more with every day of their blather. They're verbal thugs.

They are, however, more interesting to listen to than Al Franken. Sigh.

But none of them can hold a candle to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert--who may single-handedly be winning this culture war through laughter. As far as I know, far-right motor-mouths do indignation and outrage beautifully--but they have absolutely no sense of humor. Comedy eludes them. So thank god for DAILY SHOW and COLBERT REPORT. (And strangely, these shows analyse many news stories with a biting wit and insight that seems sorely lacking on mainstream news shows. DAILY SHOW was the first to go back and check Bush's introduction to his first CIA director, Porter Goss--finding it to be word for word the same as his introduction to Michael Hayden. Wow.)

DARWIN'S RADIO and DARWIN'S CHILDREN are not so much diatribes as accurate descriptions of how Washington works in a crisis--and they have been lauded as such by scientists and insiders who know the process. Before publication, I fact-checked these books by running them past experts with major experience in epidemiology and the politics of science--and in 2000, 2001, and 2002, attended government funded conferences in Washington DC and elsewhere that raised the few hairs left on my head. I wove what I heard about science and politics into DARWIN'S CHILDREN--facts and observations that came from serious bipartisan groups.

John, smart and reasonable as you are, you're still not going back to look at my book--so I'll reprint that most controversial chapter. Questions from the teacher (supply answers with actual quotes from the text!): What party does the President, who eventually comes around, belong to? What groups does the Democratic congressman reach out to in his effort to roll back government intrusions into our private lives?

Here's the entire controversial chapter. Scientists, bureaucrats, Democrats, the New York Times, Republicans, nearly everybody takes their licks. So far, only staunch Republicans have complained about this chapter. Interesting, hm?

Here it is:

?We?ve been over and over this,? Dick Gianelli told Mitch, dropping a stack of scientific reprints on the coffee table between them. The news was not good.
Gianelli was short and round and his usually pale face was now a dangerous red. ?We?ve been reading everything you sent us ever since the congressman was elected. But they have twice as many experts, and they send twice as many papers. We?re drowning in papers, Mitch! And the language.? He thumped the stack. ?Can?t your people, all the biologists, just write to be understood? Don?t they realize how important it is to get the word out to everybody??
Mitch let his hands drop by his sides. ?They?re not my people, Dick. My people are archaeologists. They tend to write sparkling prose.?
Gianelli laughed, stood up from the couch and shook out his arms, then tipped a finger under his tight collar, as if letting out steam. His office was part of the suite assigned to Representative Dale Wickham, D., Virginia, whom he had faithfully served as director of public science for two of the toughest terms in U.S. history. The door to Wickham?s office was closed. He was on the Hill today.
?The congressman has made his views clear for years now. Your colleagues, scientists all, have hopped on the gravy train. They?ve joined up with NIH and CDC and Emergency Action, and they pay their visits mostly across the aisle. Wilson at FEMA and Doyle at DOJ have undercut us every step of the way, squirming like puppies to get their funding treats. Opposing them is like standing outside in a hail of cannonballs.?
?So what can I take home with me?? Mitch asked. ?To cheer up the missus. Any good news??
Gianelli shrugged. Mitch liked Gianelli but doubted he would live to see fifty. Gianelli had all the markers: pear shape, excessive girth, ghostly skin, thinning black hair, creased earlobes. He knew it, too. He worked hard and cared too much and swallowed his disappointments. A good man in a bad time. ?We got caught in a medical bear trap,? he said. ?We?ve never been prepared. Our best model for an epidemic was military response. So now we?ve had ten years of Emergency Action. We?ve practically signed away our country to Beltway bureaucrats with military and law enforcement training. Mark Augustine?s crew, Mitch. We?ve given them almost absolute authority.?
?I don?t think I?m capable of understanding how those people think,? Mitch said.
?I thought I did, once,? Gianelli said. ?We tried to build a coalition. The congressman roped in Christian groups, the NRA, conspiracy nuts, flag burners and flag lovers, anybody who?s ever expressed a shred of suspicion about the guv?ment. We?ve gone hat in hand to every decent judge, every civil libertarian still above ground, literally and figuratively. We?ve been checked every step of the way. It was made very clear to the congressman that if he threw up any more dust, he, personally, all on his lonesome, could force the president to declare martial law.?
?What?s the difference, Dick?? Mitch asked. ?They?ve suspended habeas corpus.?
?For a special class, Mitch.?
?My daughter,? Mitch growled.
Gianelli nodded. ?Civil courts still operate, though under special guidelines. Nothing much has changed for the frightened average citizen, who?s kind of fuzzy about civil rights anyway. When Mark Augustine put together Emergency Action, he wove a tight little piece of legislative fabric. He made sure every agency ever involved in managing disease and preparing for natural disaster had a piece of the pie?and a very smelly pie it is. We?ve created a new and vulnerable underclass, with fewer civil protections than any since slavery. This sort of stuff attracts the real sharks, Mitch. The monsters.?
?All they have are hatred and fear.?
?In this town, that?s a full house,? Gianelli said. ?Washington eats truth and shits spin.? He stood. ?We can?t challenge Emergency Action. Not this session. They?re stronger than ever. Maybe next year.?
Mitch watched Gianelli pace a circuit of the room. ?I can?t wait that long. Riverside, Dick.?
Gianelli folded his hands. He would not meet Mitch?s eyes.
?The mob torched one of Augustine?s goddamned camps,? Mitch said. ?They burned the children in their barracks. They poured gasoline around the pilings and lit them up. The guards just stood back and watched. Two hundred kids roasted to death. Kids just like my daughter.?
Gianelli put on a mask of public sympathy, but underneath it, Mitch could see the real pain.
?There haven?t even been arrests,? he added.
?You can?t arrest a city, Mitch. Even the New York Times calls them virus children now. Everyone?s scared.?
?There hasn?t been a case of Shiver in ten years. It was a fluke, Dick. An excuse for some people to trample on everything this country has ever stood for.?
Gianelli squinted at Mitch but did not challenge this appraisal. ?There isn?t much more the congressman can do,? he said.
?I don?t believe that.?
Gianelli reached into his desk drawer and took out a bottle of Tums. ?Everyone around here has fire in the belly. I have heartburn.?
?Give me something to take home, Dick. Please. We need hope,? Mitch said.
?Show me your hands, Mitch.?
Mitch held up his hands. The calluses had faded, but they were still there. Gianelli held his own hands beside Mitch?s. They were smooth and pink. ?Want to really learn how to suck eggs, from an old hound dog? I?ve spent ten years with Wickham. He?s the smartest hound there is, but he?s up against a bad lot. The Republicans are the country?s pit bulls, Mitch. Barking in the night, all night, every night, right or wrong, and savaging their enemies without mercy. They claim to represent plain folks, but they represent those who vote, when they vote at all, on pocketbooks and fear and gut instinct. They control the House and the Senate, they stacked the court the last three terms, their man is in the White House, and bless them, they speak with one voice, Mitch. The president is dug in. But you know what the congressman thinks? He thinks the president doesn?t want Emergency Action to be his legacy. Eventually, maybe we can do something with that.? Gianelli?s voice dropped very low, as if he were about to blaspheme in the temple. ?But not now. The Democrats can?t even hold a bake sale without arguing. We?re weak and getting weaker.?
He held out his hand. ?The congressman will be back any minute. Mitch, you look like you haven?t slept in weeks.?
Mitch shrugged. ?I lie awake listening for trucks. I hate being so far from Kaye and Stella.?
?How far??
Mitch looked up from under his solid line of eyebrow and shook his head.
?Right,? Gianelli said. ?Sorry.?

End chapter.

Note the comment about the New York Times. The despairing comment about Democrats. Note Emergency Action, and compare with Homeland Security--which did not exist when I wrote DARWIN'S RADIO. Nor had 9-11 happened. Thereafter, the parallels with my novels are pretty remarkable.

Which led me in part to write QUANTICO, from the perspective of professional law enforcement--conservatives--and try to figure out where we'll be in ten years, given current trends. QUANTICO predicts we'll have a conservative administration for at least one more term after Bush.

But enough said.

Good question about Shevite porn. No doubt they'd all have to wear veils...and dark eye glasses! But how do you stop those scent glands?

What's the situation like where you are? You guys have been handed one of the toughest jobs in modern American history, and whatever the news stories are, we're all interested in personal observations and experience.

Response: Hello from first-timer
Posted By: Cpt John H. Smith III, Baghdad, Iraq - 06/10/2006 09:31:35 AM

(sending again - accidentally sent without my info attached)

Mr. Bear,

I'm not able to respond to all of your points, but I will say this. When you talk about spokespeople on the right, particularly with Ann Coulter, you are preaching to the choir here. I prefer the less entertaining but more insightful Bill Buckley or George Will. But you are really blind if you think the right are the only ones doing it, and nobody is "firing back". For every "thug" like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh, I can show you a equally "thuggish" Michael Moore, Paul Krugman, Bill Maher, Al Sharpton, or Markos Moulitsas ("Daily Kos"). It seems pretty bizarre to claim the left doesn't have at least an equal voice when they control Hollywood, most of the print media, and all the major news networks, except for Fox!

Heck, here's an example I just came across a few minutes ago, from a review of "Road to Guantanamo". This is pretty typical of thuggish hate speech from the left that I so often see on the web, from people who believe in every single outrageous accusation they hear against the US military:

"This film illustrates in crystal clear detail why the U.S. military needs to recruit very dumb, totally uneducated, and mostly southern cracker soldiers who are already racist bastards who have never left their hometowns and believe all the garbage they are taught in school about how we are the good guys, and everything we do is just and right. The Army can then brainwash them to treat other human beings in such a grotesque and inhuman manner."

The passage from "Darwin's Children" that you quoted completely smears Republicans but all it says about Democrats is that they are weak and disorganized (basically their status at the time the book was published). You don't see a difference there? And your mention of the NYT is actually a hidden admiration; it says: "Even the New York Times calls them virus children now" - implying that normally the NYT doesn't submit to such irrationality.

My question about Shevite porn was actually what would porn look like, if it were tailored toward Shevite viewers instead of humans? Shevites would certainly quickly become a substantial population, and like the rest of the business world, porno dealers would try to tap that market and give them what they want. I'm sure that whole new lines of beauty products, deodorants, specialty foods, sitcoms, and all sorts of new things would also be created for the new market.

Finally, to answer how is our situation - It would take me a lot more space that I can use here. This is my second tour; In 2003, I was with the 1st Armored Division and came to Baghdad right after the initial invasion. We were extended here longer than the normal one year. Now I am with a completely different unit, assigned to a team embedded with an Iraqi police battalion, but coincidentally, I am back in the same area of Baghdad as before. By the time my tour is up here, I guess I can confidentally boast that few, if any, military members know more about Western Baghdad than I do.

When people ask how things are here, strangely they are often disappointed when I tell them, it isn't that bad. OAt least not for us. For the average Iraqi, life here is very hard. During the day, I'm on the road a lot, in the miserable dust and heat, but at least I have a clean place to go back to at night, power is almost always on, airconditioning (a godsend out here), good food (even a Burger King nearby), the best medical care should I need it, and mail is reliable. (Its a far cry better than when I first got here; medical care was first rate right off the bat, but nothing else was. I ate MREs for two months straight and slept on the roof of a building at night because it was too hot inside. It seemed like a great luxury when my wife mailed me a mosquito net).

But Iraqis just don't have most of these things. Unlike me, they can't escape the city for awhile. Power only runs sporadically, and so many badly needed doctors left the country, before and after Saddam. There is no mail system at all. And corruption is such a normal part of the culture here, that the govt runs at only half the efficiency it should.

Its especially hard for children here, and that is what bothers me the most. Few American children have seen dead bodies or hear gunshots every day, or need to be carefully escorted to school. I've seriously considered adopting some Iraqi children to take them away from this, but in the self-destructing culture of too many Islamic countries, I can't do this. It is usually illegal for a Christian to adopt Muslim children, and even where not expressly illegal (like in Iraq for now) it drives the Islamic fundamentalists nuts. Many of them would rather see Muslim children dead than adopted by an "infidel", or a woman dead, rather than married to one.

Speaking of children, another problem which I never see mentioned, is the crisis this country is going to have about 12-15 years from now. It seems counterintuitive, but the country is headed for a population explosion that it just isn't equipped to handle. Iraqi families since the first Gulf War have had a LOT of children. Children are everywhere. The average age in this country is about half that of the USA. Right now there is a huge housing shortage - but when this generation of kids grows up, it will be much, much worse, and you will have a huge disaffected population, the kind that so often turns to crime or terrorism.

Of course, we get attacked sometimes, but we have so much protection now these attacks rarely succeed, and in fact in our area, most insurgents have mostly given up on attacking Americans and only go after softer targets like our Iraqi police, or conduct revenge killings on Shias or Sunnis.

A lot of progress has been made, but the media don't talk about that much. But this country was practically in the Stone Age when we arrived in 2003. Iraq was not nearly as strong as most of the world thought. It will take a long time to build it up, and we need help from more international organizations. The US military isn't ideally equipped for building up infrastructure and society. But the problem is, Al Quaida suicide bombed the UN and IRC buildings in Baghdad back in 2003, and they and other groups have kidnapped relief workers, scaring everybody off. That is their strategy, they just want the US to fail, so they can set up an Islamic state, and they don't care how many innocent Iraqis die for this goal.

Response: Hello from first-timer
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/12/2006 11:21:18 AM

Thanks for the info, John.

I don't really listen to any of those folks on either side who spend their times bloviating and dissing. I do like Molly Ivins, however, but wonder what would happen if we transplanted her brain into Ann Coulter's body...

Or perhaps we could have Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter mud-wrestle with Michael Moore and Al Franken?

Facts are what I need--there's already too much uninformed opinion out there. But I tend to believe the media is not so much biased as overworked, underfunded, and, in some cases, just plain dumb. Of course, those I think are dumb may differ from those you think are dumb.

That's why it's essential to skim the channels and pick up different papers and journals. A few gems always shine out in the dust.

The statement by a congressional staffer in DARWIN'S CHILDREN is almost word-for-word a quote from the lips of a Dem staffer in DC in 1999, and was meant to reflect the emotions of a partisan conflict during deeply troubled times. I took similar but somewhat opposite quotes and emotions from FBI agents I listened to at the Academy and used them in QUANTICO--my characters speak their minds, whatever their orientation. (Interestingly, QUANTICO is being issued from American Compass, a conservative book club. If my grand plan reaches fruition, I will now piss off all my liberal readers--and my demise will be complete!)

My own opinions are not nearly so simple--I'm well aware that if Iraq gets back on its feet, George Bush will be seen in a couple of decades as a political visionary. I certainly hope that happens. What chaps my ass is the lack of good planning and preparedness from the start--a reflection of civilian leadership with no experience of war. I was deeply conflicted about the invasion of Iraq largely because I believed the civilian leadership wasn't telling us the truth--I never did believe the WMD tale, Colin Powell's testimony was suspicious in the extreme--and that they would be woefully inadequate for the job--and I was shown to be correct.

The military has performed admirably, given the limitations of leadership and difficulty of the mission.

Fascinating insight about Iraq's future population explosion. Sounds like a breeding ground for more disaffection! In QUANTICO, I have an officer in country complaining about the U.S. withdrawing too soon from Iraq, leaving it to shift in the wind. The Sunnis are in control again, and there have been years of civil war. We are nominally allied with the Sunnis against a nuclear Iran. I certainly hope all these predictions are proven wrong. (I also predict our next president after Bush will be a Republican. Sigh.)

Glad to hear our troops are being well taken care of. Saw BAGHDAD ER recently--devastating, heartbreaking. But the professionalism and sympathy of the doctors and staff in the CSH units is awesome in the true sense of the word.

Posted By: Naellah Whitehead, Yukon, Oklahoma, USA - 06/03/2006 01:04:28 AM

mr. bear,
i recently read your novels darwin's radio, and darwin's children. i was very impressed with your writing. i read alot(emphasis) of science fiction and theology. those are my favorite forms of entertainment. you seem to have tapped ideas that i have always ascribed to: that evolution somehow follows god's plan for the world. these were wonderously beautiful novels. i can't describe how much pleasure they brought to me, having just gave birth six weeks ago to a little boy. you showed alot of insight into the way an intelligent woman would feel about pregnancy. i can't help wondering whether you had help with that part? ;) i will definitely be tuning in for your other novels and future writing. i don't have any questions, just wanted to show my appreciation for your skills and let you know that your writing is being enjoyed immensely.
(and lincoln-link when he's older will definitely read this, as his name was chosen partially for the feelings/ideas expressed in this book)

Response: Beautiful
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/03/2006 02:03:53 PM

Thank you, Naellah! I had help by example writing about Kaye's pregnancy, of course--watching our own family grow. "God's plan" touches on a lot of hot-button issues today. The best way I can express it, is that I think of the laws and constants discovered by science as God's fingers. Not evidence of divinity--but divinity itself. Does evolution always benefit the individual? Of course not. But we wouldn't be here without it--to experience life and do science and wonder about the mysteries we have yet to solve.

Response: Beautiful
Posted By: patrick - 06/05/2006 04:10:27 PM

I'm glad you're emphasizing a sort of reason to those who feel some of your writing affirms their religious beliefs. This is an important 'endeavor' for those in (relatively) high profile places such as yourself.

Response: Beautiful
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/05/2006 05:16:10 PM

It's a difficult balance--reason can't solve problems when the evidence is insufficient, and that's what's happening here, and in nearly all spiritual phenomenon. The dialog between reason and faith is dangerous but crucial--but sometimes, reason has to admit its inadequacies.

If we put this in terms of a superior alien race with incomprehensible technologies--indistinguishable from magic!-- and inscrutable psychology, somehow that makes the conflict more palatable for us rational types. And that was the case in the film version of CONTACT--as well as 2001: a Space Odyssey. But even that metaphor could still be all wrong!

Posted By: patrick - 06/01/2006 03:54:09 PM

The last post reminded me of an article I encountered at Dan Simmons' forum, the article content possibly further upping the ante in genetics, if not pushing the need to redefine chemisty:

(from New Scientist magazine)

"IN NEW AGE circles, everyone is talking about it: the magical properties of the colourless, tasteless liquid the rest of us blithely refer to as water. Between frequent gulps of the life-giving elixir, those initiated into its secrets talk reverently of the work of Masaru Emoto, who is said to have proved that water responds to the emotions of those around it."

Response: zero-point energy, DNA, and water
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/01/2006 09:45:42 PM

Pushing the envelope here! The sopping wet envelope...

Posted By: Matthew Lewis Carroll Smith, Memphis - 05/30/2006 06:33:44 PM

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." --Hamlet (I, v, 166-167)

I thought you'd find this interesting:

In a startling exception to classical genetics, mice in a lab experiment have inherited an effect of an aberrant gene without inheriting the gene itself.

Response: RNA-mediated non-mendelian inheritance
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/30/2006 06:43:57 PM

Thanks, Matthew! This is indeed a fine and puzzling result. It may very well be some version of RNA inheritance--but other possibilities may include a "backup" copy being reassembled from so-called non-coding portions of DNA, or from other apparently unrelated genes. These are my own suppositions. Whichever, it's a fascinating question: How many genes can be reassembled using this process? How many genes can be overridden or canceled? Can more than one genetic pathway produce the same phenotypical result? If so, Mendelian inheritance and much of evolutionary theory is in need of revision.

Posted By: patrick - 05/26/2006 10:16:16 PM

this is just a summary; i don't have a subscription to Science. still, though......

How About an Invisibility Cloak?

In as few as 18 months, the military may have access to an invisibility cloak that makes the wearer appear invisible. The cloak will be made of "metamaterial," which is made using nanotechnology and can change the direction of electromagnetic radiation.

Because light waves flow around the metamaterial, any object inside of it becomes invisible, similar to water flowing around a smooth rock. Researchers have compared it to opening a hole in space. Along with the obvious stealth military operations such a cloak could be used for, the material could also be used to conceal factories and other eyesores from the countryside.

Nanotechnology is also behind many other exciting inventions, like the world's strongest bulletproof vest and natural bandages. As nanotechnology progresses, it is sure to change our lives ? and health care as we know it.

Science May 26, 2006

Response: more (and more impressive) nano gear
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/27/2006 03:45:47 PM

Sounds like we should not license off-planet export, lest Predator buy the technology! (But I have to say this sounds right properly overhyped--"Flow around the metamaterial"? Hm.)

Response: ah, i forget hyperlinks aren't functional here....
Posted By: patrick - 05/27/2006 04:28:06 PM

Response: more (and more impressive) nano gear
Posted By: Howard E. Miller, Augusta, Georgia - 05/30/2006 01:18:41 AM

The part about making light flow around the metamaterial doesn't sound nearly as remarkable as having it jump off at just the right place.

Posted By: Mike Trent, Dallas, TX. - 05/25/2006 10:02:49 PM

I have read 17 of your books in the past months. Thank you so much!

The book I just finished was 'Darwin's Chidren'. Excellent! However, I find you contradict yourself and my experience. You say at one point in the book that half the people in the world have some kind on epiphany, then you say in your Caveats section that the experience is 'almost universal'. Half does not make 'almost universal'.

When talking to Christian friends, the kind that would open up to me, NONE of them had such an experience. 11% of Americans do not believe in any kind of higher power. These facts demonstrate that your statement 'almost universal' is incorrect.

Saying that this experience is as indescribable as 'love' is in error. With the exception of a few sociopaths we all feel something we call love (though what we attribute this feeling may differ). I suspect only a few people have felt the thing you call epiphany.

It is certainly within the power of the human brain to create this feeling. We know people delude themselves. I am not saying I know that you are deluding yourself, but I certainly know that is possible, and believe it to be likely.

With respect,


Response: Almost universal
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/26/2006 11:36:01 AM

So--Mike, you've never experienced this? "Almost universal" is perhaps an exaggeration for the kind of experience I've had--but for variations of such experiences, half is about right. Could it be delusion? Absolutely. All internal psychological states are, in this sense, self-induced "delusion." The big question is not whether this is real, or delusion, but whether it is caused by an external force--or whether even that question makes any sense. And there are atheists who have experienced something like an epiphany, but then considered it a delusion, and ignored it. I found it difficult to ignore. Kaye Lang, you'll notice, makes no hypotheses about what happened to her--perhaps wisely.

Response: Almost universal
Posted By: Barbara Branham, Portland, Oregon - 06/02/2006 07:17:55 PM

I just finished "Darwin's Children" and was surprised at the statement about the near universality of the experience of an "epiphany." I suppose it depends on whether that experience is associated only with the sense of a higher being being present.

I had an unusual experience over a decade ago which I can describe no other way but as an epiphany. I was in grad school working on an MFA in painting and drawing. I was having trouble understanding how to think about the process of painting and after much struggle and anguish, one day, suddenly,in a flash, everything became clear -- at least for that issue. The experience went light years beyond the usual "Aha!" moment in the creative process. I felt such elation and a strange physical if I was floating. This lasted for a couple of days and my husband thought that I had definitely gone round the bend I was so giddy. The feeling faded after a few days, never to return. Anybody who knows me would say that I'm probably the last person they would expect to have such an illogical experience. Maybe it was simply some psychological state that an expert on brain chemistry could explain.

Response: Almost universal
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/04/2006 07:08:23 PM

Thanks, Barbara! Samuel R. Delany mentioned a similar feeling to me during a dinner discussion back in 2001, and I'm sure this is a common enough experience as well--certainly among artists! Is it related to these other epiphanic moments? Muse or God? I don't know. Any thoughts, readers? (I've had artistic moments similar to this--but they haven't lasted for days...)

Posted By: Davide Gaudesi, Cornaredo, Milano, Italy - 05/24/2006 04:13:20 PM

Hi Mr. Bear,
newly your biologist italian fun need contact you.
I really appreciate your effort in order to give humanity to human scientists community. I am reading, like I said last time, Darwin's Radio. I gain the point in which Kaye and Mitch go to live in Indians territory.
Now I want to subscribe my request: searching trough PubMed I found these two interesting review, only from abstract because at the moment I don't have time to read them:
Bannert N, Kurth R. Retroelements and the human genome: new perspectives on an old relation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Oct 5;101 Suppl 2:14572-9
Sverdlov ED. Retroviruses and primate evolution. Bioessays. 2000 Feb;22(2):161-71. Review.
In your site I am not able to found litterature citation or link, so if you will be so kind to show me others work about this topic, I will be very happy.
Waiting for an answer accept my best regard.


Dr. Davide Gaudesi

Response: Darwin's radio science litterature references.
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/24/2006 05:44:30 PM


You must not have my reading list in the Italian edition, and you're correct, it's not on my web site--an oversight! Here it is, taken from the U.S. edition of DARWIN'S CHILDREN, and by no means exhaustive. The literature has expanded enormously in the last few years.

A Brief Reading List:

A concise, elegantly written and conservative view of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory is available in Richard Dawkins?s River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life, BasicBooks, 1995. Dawkins is one of our best science writers and an excellent whetstone for anyone wishing to challenge institutionalized views of biology and evolution. It is my belief that he is wrong on many points, but he defines the debate in ways few others can.
Published more recently, and going into more detail, Ernst Mayr?s summing up of a life?s work, What Evolution Is (2002, Perseus Books) makes another clear and unyielding statement of the paradigm of modern Darwinism. There will probably be no finer exponents of the old view of Darwinian evolution.
The new view is emerging even as we speak.
Stephen Jay Gould is unfortunately no longer with us. I recommend all of his learned and impassioned books and essays, but in particular the flawed, and for that reason no less fascinating and instructive, Wonderful Life (Norton, 1989).
A good bridge to a larger understanding of the turmoil in evolutionary theory is Niles Eldredge?s Reinventing Darwin: The Great Debate at the High Table of Evolutionary Theory, Wiley, 1995. Eldredge and Gould are currently credited with a particular view of evolutionary leaps known as punctuated equilibrium, but the idea goes back at least to masters such as Ernst Mayr, and even back to Darwin. Wherever it comes from, punctuated equilibrium was one of the key stimuli to my writing Darwin?s Radio. Gould and Eldredge should not be blamed for my elaborations, however.
Peter J. Bowler?s The Non-Darwinian Revolution: Reinterpreting a Historical Myth (1988, Johns Hopkins) is scholarly and entertaining at once.
A fine introduction to genetics is Dealing with Genes: The Language of Heredity by Paul Berg and Maxine Singer, 1992, University Science Books. Though a decade old, its information is still useful and its attitude is forward-looking. It could prepare the reader for the following books.
Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan have published an excellent critique of neo-Darwinianism in Acquiring Genomes: A Theory on the Origins of Species, 2002, BasicBooks. Margulis is a pioneer in thinking about cooperative and symbiotic systems, and she and her son Dorion make up the single most stimulating popular writing team in modern biology.
More radical still, but just as polite and level-headed as Margulis, is Lynn Caporale, whose Darwin in the Genome: Molecular Strategies in Biological Evolution (2003, McGraw-Hill) is a clear and thoughtful examination of how genomics will shape and mutate the debate on evolution.
Lamarck?s Signature: How Retrogenes are Changing Darwin?s Natural Selection Paradigm, by Edward J. Steele, Robyn A. Lindley, and Robert V. Blanden (1998, Perseus Books) focuses on one possible cause and arbiter of genomic variation.
A key text in modern biology is Retroviruses, edited by John M. Coffin, Stephen H. Hughes, and Harold E. Varmus, 1997, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. Mostly for professionals, this rigorous and pioneering collection of monographs is filled with useful information.
Of particular relevance to my two novels is Lateral DNA Transfer by Frederic Bushman, 2002, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, is an important synopsis of what is currently known about DNA transfer through viruses, transposons, plasmids, etc. I think it is one of the most significant biology books published in the last decade.
James V. Kohl?s The Scent of Eros (1995; reprinted in a revised edition, 2002, Continuum) is a rich source of information on pheromones, human communication through smell, and the influence of scent on sexuality.
There?s a wealth of fine writing on these topics in many other popular science books, textbooks, and magazines. Searching on author names and topics in online bookstores can be a good way to leapfrog through diverse subjects. Which leads us to a very small sampling of Web sites.
Searching on key words in Web engines such as Google (?HERV,? ?Retrotransposon,? ?Barbara McClintock,? ?Homo erectus,? ?Mitochondria,? etc.) can lead the curious reader into a combination paradise and mine field of articles peer-reviewed and otherwise, research goals and updates, opinions, and quite a few rants of varying degrees of erudition. Caveats abound?there are dozens if not hundreds of Creationist and other religiously-motivated, anti-evolution sites that seem to discuss evolution and genetics with some lucidity, for a while. Generally speaking, the science here is dubious at best.
Nevertheless, searching on Google is how I located excellent articles by Luis P. Villarreal. In particular, I was influenced by Villarreal?s ?The Viruses That Make Us: A Role For Endogenous Retrovirus In The Evolution Of Placental Species,? available on the Web at

(Dr. Villarreal, Eric Larsson, and Howard Temin should not, however, be blamed for all the uses their ideas are put to in this novel.)
James V. Kohl?s Web site,, provides a number of links to articles and other sites that discuss the biology of smell. The Web site of the Molecular Sciences Institute,, is filled with interesting news and developments. The International Paleopsychology Project,, is a clearing house of fascinating ideas with many links to other Web sites.
Periodically, I will post bibliographical updates on, as well as comments from readers about the theoretical underpinnings of the Darwin novels.


Special thanks to Mark Minie, Ph.D., and Rose James, Ph.D.; Deirdre V. Lovecky, Ph.D.; Dr. Joseph Miller; Dominic Esposito of the National Cancer Institute; Dr. Elizabeth Kutter; Cleone Hawkinson; Alison Stenger, Ph.D.; David and Diane Clark; Howard Bloom and the International Paleopsychology Project; Cynthia Robbins-Roth, Ph.D., James V. Kohl, Oliver Morton, Karen Anderson, Lynn Caporale, and Roger Brent, Ph.D.

Posted By: Paula Beckman, Ames, IA - 05/24/2006 09:42:08 AM

Greetings, Greg. I just finished reading "Quantico" (gotten thru SFBC) and I really enjoyed it. But I have a question that's been driving me crazy: you mention the "University of Ames, Iowa." I am praying that you were taking liberties and that is how Iowa State University, located in Ames, Iowa, is known in the future in which your book is set. We have 3 "major" universities: Iowa State University (Ames); University of Iowa (Iowa City); and University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls). We have enough trouble here in Iowa with "others" knowing next to nothing about our state. I am hoping that you are not one of "them." I look forward to your response. And will keep my fingers crossed that you write more in the "Quantico" vein, continuing with those characters, even. Thanks in advance for your reply!

Response: Quantico - intentional or accidental misnaming?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/24/2006 10:26:49 AM

Looks as if this might be small slip in one of my sources, but I don't have the book at hand to check. There are many mentions on Google of (Iowa State) University OF Ames, sometimes reduced to "University of Ames, Iowa," and even more of Iowa State University AT Ames. I presume the more common usage would be the latter.

Response: Quantico - intentional or accidental misnaming?
Posted By: Paula, Iowa State University - 05/24/2006 11:12:45 AM

Ames is not a part of the name of the university. It is "just" the location. Googling "University of Ames, Iowa" or even "University of Ames" (without using the quotes) will give you the link to the ISU homepage as the first or second in the list. We are Iowa State University of Science and Technology.

I'm sure I'm coming across as nit-picky, but as a native Iowan, an alumna of ISU, and now an employee of ISU, I hope you will understand.

And I just want to say again that "Quantico" was a great book!!!

P.S. If you ever need a researcher located in the middle of the US, feel free to e-mail! LOL

Response: Quantico - intentional or accidental misnaming?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/24/2006 11:28:19 AM

Thanks, Paula! My last defense here is that the reference is in dialog--so, obviously, Rebecca Rose got it wrong! (But I'll try to correct her in subsequent editions.) Glad you liked QUANTICO.

Response: Quantico - intentional or accidental misnaming?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/24/2006 11:45:59 AM

Let me make a request here--because of QUANTICO's difficult history, there may be additional errors, both typos and factual. No thorough professional proofreading has been done in the United States, nor was I able to go through my usual vetting process with multiple experts--other than informal interviews at Fort Detrick, NCI-Frederick, and other locations--due in part to the current state of U.S. politics. Any corrections (and please, do your own double-checking!) are welcome.

Posted By: will, tokyo - 05/23/2006 11:49:24 PM

it is i suppose a natural thing that readers evolve as much as writers. and in my case almost all of the SF authors i adored in high school (mid 80's) no longer seem as shiny.

except for yourself (and maybe vernor vinge who i wish would write more).

my first intro to your work was with blood music, and i have managed to read and enjoy most everything else you have written since then. it is impressive that you are able to keep producing increasingly sophisticated stories without losing the freshness of your early work. dead lines was for me a bit trippy at the end, but the book is def a new favorite. thanks for that.

no comments or questions, just a thanks...

actually i lie...any chance of a sequel to moving mars?

Response: dead lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/24/2006 10:16:16 AM

Thanks, will! No sequels for MOVING MARS are in the works. And I too wish Vernor would write more, but he has a new book out from Tor as we speak, RAINBOW'S END. Highly recommended.

Posted By: ryan costa, memphis, tn - 05/23/2006 12:09:51 PM


I was thinking of the biological changes wrought in Darwin's Children. Since we've been bipeds for so long, it would make sense for evolution to favor Vaginas opening in front of Pelvic bones, rather than between them. It is a leap, but even whales ended up with noses behind their skulls sometime. It would also be nice to not have toe nails, and some way of opening cans with our bare hands. Further down the road I guess.

Response: darwin's children procreation
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/23/2006 12:19:06 PM

In order to place your evolutionary change order, you must fill out the proper forms. Please refer to form ERV-1069. Submissions must be in hand before the next product announcement. Unfortunately, due to excessive demand, we are unable for the time being to process requests that do not have to do with improving/replacing the human backbone.

--The Management

(thanks, ryan!)

Posted By: Howard E. Miller, Augusta, GA - 05/21/2006 01:38:56 AM

I've finished reading "Songs Of Earth And Power" once again. I originally read "The Infinity Concerto" and "The Serpent Mage" before I discovered the two novels combined. I've been wondering if you started "The Infinity Concerto" and during the writing of it, realized that there was another novel to be written? Certainly by the time Michael meets Tonn's wife on the Blasted Plain, the further story is set, since Tonn's wife mentions Kristine. At this first meeting Michael doesn't know who Kristine is, yet Tonn's wife already knows where Kristine is, despite the fact that Kristine's kidnapping hasn't happened yet.

In mulling this over the phrase "The time is out of joint" occurred to me and I wondered if Michael could be an analog to Hamlet. Nah. Despite the aptness of the phrase, "Songs Of Earth And Power" isn't a revenge tale. Michael regrets every death that occurs due to his actions. Although one might be able to argue that Eleuth is Ophelia to Michael's Hamlet, certainly there is no nunnery in Michael's journey. Besides, Michael isn't forced into the circumstances he finds himself in. He gets there by his own decision and actions, while Hamlet's situation arises because of the actions of others.

The role that Michael has thrust upon him is more of a breaker of impasse among the Sidhe. He arrives in the Realm at the cusp of its dissolution and his subsequent actions actually result in the saving of countless Sidhe, not to mention a few thousand humans. And Epons.

When you write a novel, how much preparation do you do beforehand? Do you make notes, construct timelines and outlines? Or are you more like Poe in the practice of your craft? This is the part of the novel that us readers rarely get to see.

By the way, I think there are signs that the Crane Women have taken up residence right here in Augusta, Georgia. Each day I take Crane's Ferry road to get to work, and Crane Creek flows right behind the apartment where I live.

Response: Thoughts On "Songs Of Earth And Power"
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/21/2006 01:21:44 PM

Thanks, Howard! Parts of THE INFINITY CONCERTO go back to high school--in terms of ideas--and a first draft was completed in 1971, when I was in college. A re-thinking in the early eighties led to the present version, which was indeed planned as two novels. The one volume edition in the U.S. incorporates revisions made in the nineties, but the UK edition--despite calling itself revised--somehow managed to miss those minor, mostly cosmetic changes. I don't usually do an extensive outline, but I do make notes as I go along. The older I get, I suspect, the more notes I'll be making, rather than relying on memory! Now, Howard, you have to be pulling my leg about those streets. Are there any streets in Georgia NOT called Peachtree?

Response: Thoughts On "Songs Of Earth And Power"
Posted By: Howard E. Miller, Augusta, GA - 05/23/2006 09:54:49 AM

You must be thinking of Atlanta. They have a lot of that 'Peachtree this and Peachtree that'. You have to understand that the only reason that Atlanta is part of Georgia only because it's located here.

Response: Thoughts On "Songs Of Earth And Power"
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/23/2006 10:14:46 AM

Got you! I'll be in Atlanta to speak at Emory this September. Would love to get outside the city and see more of Georgia, but doubt there will be time, unfortunately.

Posted By: patrick - 05/17/2006 03:32:52 PM

that's at least the third or fourth person to mention it. i don't recall if i did, but i know that wasn't the only thing i said - christ. in any case, great irony about the hardback, and the afterlife part raises some curiosity, despite its intended humour.

Response: camp/base/whatever
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/17/2006 03:40:17 PM

I do appreciate the corrections--early or late, somebody's bound to help me proofread a book.

Posted By: Michael Tinsley, Birmingham, AL - 05/16/2006 07:39:24 PM

You wrote about being at an Army 'camp' when there is no such _thing. The US Army has bases and forts....the Marines have camps.

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/17/2006 10:02:39 AM

Ah, Michael, how nice that you're reading the hardback edition! The paperback corrects this little gaffe. Though, watching BAND OF BROTHERS recently, I noted Army troops receiving training during WW2 at a Marine Base. Any examples of this during the Vietnam period, readers? (Nobody so far has tried to correct my extreme inaccuracies about the afterlife...)

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: David Clark, Vista, California - 05/18/2006 08:01:49 PM

Sorry Michael, but there are or were indeed Army Camps. Camp Roberts and Camp Hunter Leggett in the California central coast come to mind, as well as Camp Van Dorn in Mississippi. I was stationed at Hunter Leggett in the '70s and Camp Roberts was sill being used by the National Guard or Army Reserves into the '80s at least.

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/19/2006 09:58:43 AM

Okay, I take it back, folks--everybody should buy and read the hardback edition of DEAD LINES, since it may have been right after all! Although, David, I can't find any reference to Hunter Leggett as a camp--it's a fort in all the refs I can locate. Next step--did any Army types train at Camp Lejeune? (Hunter Liggett himself "took command of the 41st Division at Camp Fremont (Calif.) and deployed with the unit to France", according to a BYU library bio.)

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/19/2006 10:00:29 AM

Oops--should be Hunter LIGGETT throughout.

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Alan Kellogg, San Diego CA - 05/22/2006 09:50:39 PM


Are you sure the hero succeeded? And what do you see as the effects on the world if the dead could continue to butt in on occasion.

"Yo, fleshie. We told you time and time again to stop using your trans at three in the morning. It happens again we'll start leading the ghost of roadkill to your house."

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/23/2006 10:12:46 AM

Absolutely, Alan. What if we let those ghosts start posting on Download ghostly music clips and ectoplasmic erotica? Could get nasty! And to paraphrase Michael Crichton, "Death will find a way"...

Response: Famous Camps
Posted By: Howard E. Miller, Augusta, GA - 05/23/2006 11:14:23 PM

I'm not an expert on things Army, but I do know that the Army has camps too. There is a place in northeast Georgia that was used for parachute training during World War II. It was called "Camp Toccoa". Camp Toccoa is a place where some of those 'devils in baggy pants' received their first jump training.

It's my understanding that a 'camp' is a place that is specifically devoted to training of one kind or another. On the other hand, a 'fort' is a place that contains administrative functions, such as headquarters and such. Both Fort Benning, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina are examples, although training also occurs there.

Another quite famous camp is Camp Swampy, which I believe is still active today.

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Alan Kellogg, San Diego CA - 05/25/2006 08:18:18 AM


Exorcist is going to be a very popular career. :)

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/25/2006 10:51:26 AM

Have to carry your own jamming equipment...

Posted By: Tom Julian, Hamilton Square NJ - 05/16/2006 10:55:25 AM


Just finished Darwin's Children and I'll be wrapped up in that world for a while. One thing I am dying to really understand, but could never get my imagination around, was what the children's facial features actually looked like. Several times their "Sheva Facial Features" are referred to. Have their been any good artist's renditions of the children?



Response: The Children
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/16/2006 11:46:10 AM

Hello, Tom! No portraits as of yet. I've described Stella as looking a bit like the singer Brandy, with cheek freckles that move and gold-dappled irises. Skin color tends to be more uniform in Shevites. The major differences are in their communications skills--most would pass physically as "exotics."

Posted By: Ryan , Broomfield, CO - 05/13/2006 11:37:01 AM

Mr. Bear,

I am currently reading your story entitled "Blood Music" and I had few questions. What motivated you to write this story? I ask this because it may help me to further understand this writing. What is the moral of this story? As a reader I cant seem to quite grasp it.Thank you for your time.


Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/13/2006 12:14:12 PM

"Blood Music" came to me in a flash after reading an article on biochips in NEW SCIENTIST in 1982. The idea--intelligent cells--was so cool I had to write the story! And there's not so much a moral as a sting in its tail. Or tale. Compare and contrast with James Blish's short story, "Surface Tension."

Posted By: Brad Barnett, Ottawa, Ontario - 05/12/2006 09:55:34 PM

What if the bacteria in our gut, is actually created from the "junk" DNA we have laying around? Simply because it appears to be unrelated bacteria, does not make it so.

This bacteria could easily be produced on demand. I have heard that individuals can "lose" this bacteria, and then have issue digesting food. It may be that this bacteria is only produced at a certain stage of one's life, and is not re-generated much like teeth.

Do you know if anyone has seached our genome to try an locate specific snippets of gut bacteria DNA? This of course would not eliminate the possibility, if not found, but it would raise eyebrows if found....

Response: gut bacteria creation via dormant genes
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/13/2006 12:09:52 PM

I don't know of any bacterial gene sequences per se in our DNA--and "junk" DNA usually refers to non-coding DNA that doesn't produce proteins. Bacteria is everywhere--so it's easy to repopulate the gut just by eating fruit, yogurt, or for that matter breathing. The mix will change, of course--but that usually seems to balance out, given time. We do seem to be able to recreate our own viruses from the genome, however! Still, it's an intriguing idea, Brad!

Posted By: Zac Gray, Los Angeles - 05/10/2006 01:43:20 AM

I'm a long time fan of your work. I started with Eon and have been hooked since. Though I've enjoyed all your works, my personal favorite is Anvil of Stars. Any chance of another novel in this universe?

For what its worth, I consider you to be one of the three living masters of hard science fiction; Gregory Benford and David Brin round out my list.

Thanks for giving our collective imaginations such wondrous and fertile plains to roam.

Zac Gray

Response: Thank you
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/10/2006 11:19:08 AM

Thank you, Zac. Gregory Benford and David Brin and I are likely to be scheduled for a Killer B's and a V panel at Anaheim Worldcon this August--we'll be joined by Vernor Vinge, another author you should check into, if you haven't already! Follow-up novel to ANVIL and FORGE is not yet solid, but it's a possibility.

Posted By: Douglas Brown - 05/09/2006 01:07:11 PM

I am 47 years old and I picked up forge of god 15 years ago in a used book store. I still have the same book. rather worn and battered I must say and I have read it and its sequel at least 5 times. It was one of the best science fiction stories I have EVER read. I just loaned both books to an avivd si-fi reader who happend to miss these two books. He will be hooked no doubt about it. I believe forge should be on the big screen. Are there any plans in the future for this?

Fan for life,
Doug Brown USA

Response: forge of god.
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/09/2006 01:44:01 PM

Indeed, Doug, FORGE OF GOD and ANVIL OF STARS are very much alive (after three years!) at Warner Brothers, which has optioned them both. Wish us luck getting them up on the big screen!

Posted By: John, Oregon - 05/09/2006 03:57:06 AM

Greetings. I have one single question for you. What makes you tick?

Your ability to write is both stunning and inspiring. I only wish I could write half as well as you. Having read the EON books, Moving Mars (my favorite so far), and Darwin's Radio (finished it yesterday and am going shopping for Children tomorrow), I am simply amazed at your talents. You have picked up a new fan for life!

So again I ask, what makes you tick?

I'm going to post again soon, but I would be most intrigued by your response. Thanks for such brilliant writing!

Response: Wow
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/09/2006 09:58:57 AM

Great to have you aboard, John. I've been ticking this way since I was seven or eight, so I hardly hear it any more. Even my wife and kids are used to it!

Posted By: Mike Glosson, under the May Gray in San Diego - 05/09/2006 12:49:00 AM

Greg: Finally picked up a copy of this, and being on the side lines with Allergies this last weekend, read most of it, and just finished the last hundred pages or so while doing remote work on the other side of the Pacific.
While only time will tell if the speculative genetics part of your novel proves real or fantasy, you pinned to the mat the politics and beurocracy that infect the scientific process...and the panic'd mob responses the general public may have in such a situation...that chilled me more than anything else...when scared, people turn into shrieking chimps.
A couple of interesting coicidences...while you were being introduced to all things Georgian, history, culture, politics, etc. I was socializing with the local Georgian Community here in San Dieog that circuled around Russia House, just down the street.
There were also a few moments that gave me a dated feeling in the book...a detail about flat screen monitors in labs...a detail that stood years post publication such monitors are now ubiquitous, while CRTs are becoming rare in the wild and extinct in retail.
And a detail only a San Diego Zoo Member would catch...The three "Conspirators" leaving the "Party" area near the Reptile house at the zoo, going down a simulated jungle trail(I'm thinking tiger river...) and then later going down an escaltor into cat canyon...I think there was a mesa climb up missed there.
On a technical note: It's almost as if while you were working on this book you ACTUALLY got the intellectual help and inside looks you were denied during the writing of BLOOD MUSIC, but that was nearly 1.5 decades back in bioscience...and I wonder if you'd at some point give in to the "Clarke Temptation" and go back and expand on that novel...though it was already expanded from the original novella.
As I was looking at the book cover today for Darwin's Radio I noticed that it was packaged as "Fiction". Not Science Fiction, Fiction.
And, in that light, this work was several powers of ten better than any mainstream best seller with bits of current day science I read in the last ten years...
Not sure when the chance to read the sequel will present itself...may have to make the time.


Response: What's all the fuss about Darwin's Radio?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/09/2006 09:57:17 AM

Thanks, Michael! I'm sure some labs still have CRTs--but in a few years, you're right, they'll have all burned out. I just hope the biology stays current as more time passes. As for BLOOD MUSIC--there's a very promising screenplay being written now (not by me), and maybe we can sneak some updates into that.

Response: What's all the fuss about Darwin's Radio?
Posted By: patrick - 05/09/2006 02:18:17 PM

regarding the hysteria factor in DR, i felt a dense ugliness - like, something that actually dulled my thought processes (something ive experienced in real life, actually) - corresponding to the mentalities of those so afflicted. very powerful.

as to the fiction part, cool. i consider myself pretty savvy, and there were parts where i had a tough time envisioning the biological structures and processes you were explaining, in that lab scene with kaye.

Response: What's all the fuss about Darwin's Radio?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/09/2006 02:29:01 PM

Visualizing biological processes at that level is tough for the pros--how much more difficult for the rest of us!

Response: What's all the fuss about Darwin's Radio?
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Under the Fog in San Diego - 05/09/2006 10:37:05 PM

One thing I forgot to mention last night...the post "live birth" coda to this novel...kinda reminded me of the back story to SLAN, when the Slans first started to evolve out of homo now I am almost die'n to know just how close DARWIN'S CHILDREN resembles the Slan War backstory.

On another post post issue: So Blood Music is in Screen Play Mode...the mind boggles...with all the fear over Bird Flu and Sars that still boils thru the panic stricken public this could turn into a DNA-Horror-2001 Film Experience...The Andromeda Strain being run over by the unfilmed version of Childhood's end.



Response: What's all the fuss about Darwin's Radio?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/10/2006 10:01:32 AM

SLAN is certainly in the mix--minus any hint of psychic powers, of course. Difference is difference, but I wanted to keep this grounded in biology.

Posted By: Corinne, Reston, VA - 05/04/2006 12:54:33 PM

My major gripe with Christianity in the formal sense is that it
>>requires exclusion. --how many people have died because of it?

By the way, the THEORY of Evolution is in essence, Exclusion - survival of species/gene pool based on some RANDOM NATURAL selection of the fittest through competition, etc. How many "good" species have "died" because of it and why? It there'd been less random-ness, would we have war and disease today?

Have you ever considered that maybe that's part of "gripe" for the Creationists?

Sorry, I couldn't resist. But, yes, I agree with you. Man has tainted the transcendent beauty of Faith and Spirituality with the overlay of Formalized Religion and fought wars to protect "Truth" as we understand it with the 10% of our brains we use! But it's not just the history of Christianity. I used that cop-out too, to avoid practicing faith for most of my adult life. I advise you to get over the dogma and read the Bible with an open mind. It speaks to me much more richly now through my worldly filters than it ever did when I was a young idealogist. Maybe that was God's plan all along...

>"Only through this path, else hell"is one of the most >>destructive concepts in history

Certainly man's interpretation of it, but turn it around and consider it from another perspective - God asks us to be faithful to Him only and then gives us the Bible - His How To Guidebook on Faithfulness - to show us how we can recreate The Kingdom of God here on earth. Hell is simply the absence of God/Light/Love. (Altho there is nothing simple about Evil and yes, just as there is God, there is Evil in the world, too) We have free will to choose God or NotGod/Hell every day. That's not only exclusionary - it's binary!

And aren't all true, committed relationships by definition exclusionary - We exclude others and pick a special one to form a respectful and loving marriage and eventually create offspring based on our combined exclusive DNA, generally speaking. You claim to have experienced it yourself - God's dearest desire is to draw us into an exclusive relationship with Him as His family. As a Christian, I believe Jesus was God's incarnate manifestation sent to demonstrate His Love and show us the way to Him. Through much soul searching, I don't have a problem with that. In fact, it makes me feel honored to know God desires me and cares enough to both send a mentor and written instructions on how to nurture that special relationship!

>>Did Jesus really wish for this? So I call myself a friend of Jesus, and a >>student of many.

Me, too! Just like the old hymn, eh?
Jesus was a rebel, standing strong against legalism's negative impact on Faithfulness - he reduced the whole Talmud down to 2 basic instructions - 1.Love God and 2. Love others as you Love yourself. How can that be destructive? It becomes destructive only because humankind can't follow simple instructions - Duh!

Thanks, Greg. I've enjoyed this dialog and I'll put more of your ebooks on my PDA - Hope you get to write Book 3 of the Darwin series - obviously I like things that come in 3! ;-}

Response: Darwin's Children/Evolution/Religious Exclusivity
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/04/2006 01:29:23 PM

Great questions raised here--leading us directly to the nature of good and evil, or the good and evil of nature. If nature is minutely designed by God, then why does being a part of it cause so much pain and suffering?

We're social animals, and we seek the glue that binds us to each other more strongly--which religion certainly does. To strengthen the glue, sometimes we taint the message--and the messenger! While I agree that nature and humans exclude and punish, I'm just not willing to believe that God does so--which puts me on course to believe there is a loving outcome hidden from us in this life; perhaps we are not highly evolved enough to understand, or imagine its scope! I think we're on the same page, Corinne--but I'm not sure which book! But I'll sing that hymn with you anytime. (I have a terrible singing voice, by the way.)

Posted By: Corinne, Reston, VA - 05/03/2006 11:59:08 AM

I've finally gotten around to reading your two Darwin books - so many books, too little time! Too bad SciFi channel couldn't get it right - so frustrating that Hollywood always has to dumb everything down to the least common denominator - horror and/or sex. A series on your books would be way more interesting & thought provoking than most of the predictable cop, lawyer and doctor variations of crap TV they repeatedly push at us.

As a practicing Christian, I'm especially intrigued at how you juxpositioned the evolutionary and the spiritual development of the main character, Kaye. I'd sure like to know (if you ever do book #3) if the Shevites, esp. Stella, has what you call an ephipany. And, how does Kaye know that the caller isn't Jesus-as-God? Abiding love and acceptance was the essence of Jesus' teachings - the Woman at the Well is a good analogy here, I think.

Coincidently, I am also reading Phil Yancey (I often have 2 or more books going at once) and in Chapter 20 of his book, "Reaching for Invisible God" he quotes novelist Marilynne Robinson (The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought). At lunch, I literally went from finishing Darwin's Children to my Yancey ebook and the following quote - almost as if I were guided...and I was so taken by the applicability of the following quote to your novel's theme that I wanted to share it with you: "...The great recurring theme of biblical narrative is always rescue, whether of Noah and his family, the people of Israel, or Christ's redeemed. The idea that there is a remnant too precious to be lost, in whom humanity will in some sense survive, has always been a generous hope, and a pious hope."
(Incarnation, 1990, 310-311)

It seems your novels on evolution are yet echoing a biblical theme. Fascinating,no?

Thanks for such "soulful" research, thought, and writing, Greg!

Response: Darwin's Children
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/03/2006 12:39:42 PM

Religion gives us guidance and hope. Science gives guidance and a dose of hard reality as we try to re-shape our wonderful, supremely difficult world--and science also provides hope that we can relieve pain and suffering and fulfill our quest for worldly knowledge. Both shape our lives. My own epiphany, like Kaye's, was somewhat open-ended--which tells me that this influence, God or whatever we wish to call it, communicates to each of us in a way that gets through most effectively, and shapes the "listener." There will be no punishment for making theological mistakes, I hope! My major gripe with Christianity in the formal sense is that it requires exclusion. "Only through this path, else hell" is one of the most destructive concepts in history--how many people have died because of it? Did Jesus really wish for this? So I call myself a friend of Jesus, and a student of many. And I try not to tell God what to be or do--because despite our need to be rescued, in this world not all of us are rescued from suffering or untimely death--including good, pious people. The message I received was one of extraordinary love--which implies that ultimately, in mystery there is salvation--that it will all be explained, and worth the pain. And that's the ultimate message of rescue, no?

And it is terrific how we move among people and books, seeking and finding--guided, or at random? Mystery abides!

Many thanks, Corinne!

Response: Darwin's Children
Posted By: patrick - 05/03/2006 06:02:19 PM

(whoops, i forgot to put the info up top, the first time round.)

i would add on to greg's post:

as long as one can allow the cosmos to map itself, accurately, to their consciousness, it would follow that it doesnt matter through what device was utilised to enable this. the issue with any belief-system - be it a religion, or that of strict adherents to science - is that heavy filters and desire generators can exist to obfuscate this.

Posted By: Jean Jenkins, San Diego - 04/29/2006 07:14:48 PM

Dear Greg,

Just finished this book and have a question. It feels almost as if this started out as a short story and you expanded the idea. Just asking writer to writer because I'm curious.

Greetings from San Diego and the old Writers Haven. A group of us continue to get together weekly so the tradition continues and so does the spirit. We still miss you...

Response: Re Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/30/2006 02:26:37 PM

Hello, Jean! We're planning to be back down in San Diego for Comic-Con--and Anaheim for Worldcon--so maybe we can bump into each other, among the tens of thousands of friends and confreres.

DEAD LINES was cribbed from an idea developed as part of a science fiction TV miniseries that never got off the ground, and proposed as a substantially high-tech laboratory-style novel with ghosts. By the time the novel was finished, it had mutated quite considerably... Into a more traditional ghost story, with high-tech underpinnings. I personally fit it into the tradition created by James Blish, Richard Matheson, and other writers who mingle spiritual questions with physics and science--a distinctly 19th century tradition!

Posted By: Jake Rigby, Manchester - 04/25/2006 09:59:58 AM

Dear Greg,

I've been a lifetime fan of your work and have devoured any scap of information or heresay I could find regarding the potential dramatisation of the Forge of God and (dare I hope) its sequels.

I am begining to think my expectations for this movie are becoming too great, approaching the epic proportions of the books themselves.

As far as the hollywood machine is concerned, I think you may have had the rug pulled out from under you by Speilberg's War of the Worlds - a truly excellent film, but based around an idea lacking the hard SF scope of Forge.

Of course WE understand the difference, but how, in your pitch to great and good of hollywood, do you differentiate Forge from the myriad alien invasion plots?

All the best,


ps. when's the release date!!!!

Response: lost in the FOG
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/25/2006 10:03:15 AM

The success of WAR OF THE WORLDS may in fact have helped the prospects of FORGE OF GOD. At any rate, the option has been renewed, and Warner Bros. is still intent on getting the movie made.

Posted By: Kristin, Los Gatos CA - 04/19/2006 01:57:53 PM

Sad to hear Hollywood was trying to rip the heart, lungs and intestines out of your books (so what else is new?) and turn them into something unrecognizable. I am glad you did not allow this to happen; perhaps someday our cultural climate will change enough to allow a faithful film to be made. Fear, not hope, seems to be what sells at the moment.

Not AGAIN - the UK edition of your new novel is out before the US one! Is it because SF in general is doing better there than here (e.g. all the Hugo nominees in 2005 being British??)

I went to Minicon - OK i'm a sucker for seeing Harlan Ellison in person again and I know some of the weird folx who hang on his website - I bought one of Pamela Dean's fantasy novels for escapism, but I also picked up Robert Metzgers's CUSP. Wow, someone is actually still publishing hard SF? Amazing.

I still think you're cool.


Response: Just checking in...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/19/2006 02:39:25 PM

Hello, Kristin! Robert Metzger is one of our best. QUANTICO is coming soon from just about every book club out there, including SFBC and Book of the Month Club, as well as e-Reads in a trade edition. If you're a subscriber to the Easton Press, they're also bringing out an edition, and I'm signing plates for that now.

Response: Just checking in...
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 05/17/2006 04:11:10 PM


I will add Robert Metzger of my list of hard sf authors to look into.

A few months ago you responded here to a query from a fan new to the genre about some writers that you could recommend, and in your reply you mentioned Vernor's new book and something by a female writer. (I think she had a new book coming out then. I have since forgotten her name.) I want to get to know some of the ladies in hard sf orbit for a change, and hope that you can help.



Response: Just checking in...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/17/2006 04:29:40 PM

Mary Rosenblum. Many others: Kathleen Ann Goonan, Kay Kenyon, Louise Marley, Linda Nagata, Barbara Hambly, Nancy Kress, Syne Mitchell, Amy Thomson... and for those who like a touch of magic realism and history, Kathleen Alcala. By no means a final list!

Posted By: Leila Khaled, Yemen - 04/17/2006 01:57:49 AM

Dear Greg. Thank you very much for your books. I just want you to know that you have fans even in Yemen. Some time ago I was lucky to buy your 2 books in foreign airport: Vitals and W3. I never was sorry for spent money, never. Your books are great! Really thrilling and exciting. We don't have here in Yemen many English books, but I hope some day I'll read all of your books. Thanks again.

Response: It's your fan from Yemen
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/17/2006 10:23:57 AM

Wonderful to hear from you, Leila! Keep in touch, and let us know more about how things are going in Yemen. We need more links and insight from folks like you, now more than ever.

Posted By: patrick - 04/12/2006 02:42:29 PM

what i meant the other day, in my address to immortality,is that many authors and scientists speculate on the loss of information, whether in solid-state or corporeal form, as aeons go by. (benford has speculated on plasma field storage.)

and, if quantum conditions permit, we might not have to worry about it, cause we could just access the cosmosphere for the recollection or viewing any data. of course, i wonder at the level (and consequences) of 'interaxion' with such data.

this causes me to up my anticipation for city at the end of time.

Response: immortality/eternity
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/12/2006 04:18:34 PM

CITY is getting pretty intriguing that way. As you might expect, however, seeing the end of time does have its drawbacks!

Posted By: Ian Henley, Gateshead, England - 04/11/2006 06:52:29 PM

Hi again,
I am a little concerned by the fact that my first correspondence with yourself, a few days ago, has also coincided with my introduction to Ebay. I have since purchased 2 more copies of Blood Music ( second hand and therefore I apologise for not contributing to yourself direct) and intend to pass them on to a new audience immediately. I know who I have in mind and am excited in their anticipation of reading this book.
Lets hope I dont get too obsessed or I may be skint quicker than I had feared.
Ian Henley.

Response: Blood Music
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/11/2006 07:42:10 PM

Sounds like the noocytes have got you!

Posted By: Ian Henley, Gateshead, England - 04/10/2006 02:43:03 PM

I just wanted to say thank you for writing Blood Music. It is by far the best book I have ever read. Reading it has definately inspired me to read more science fiction, but so far I have failed in my search to find a book quite this amazing. And thats after reading approximately 100 sci-fi books since, most generally considered post and present classics. I end up reading it again and again, just to immerse myself in its brilliance.
I have this constant urge to introduce this book to everyone I know or meet. I have bought atleast 12 copies of Blood Music, since I end up sharing this book with my family and friends. I have yet to receive a negative response about Blood Music, which is great considering the diversity of people that I have presented it too. For many people I know, it has ignited a real interest in the sci fi genre.
Thankyou so much for creating such a fantastic concept.
Eerie, intense, believable, inspiring, mind blowing and beautiful.

Response: Blood Music
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/10/2006 05:47:52 PM

Twelve copies may be a record! Thanks, Ian. Good to know that my books can spread like viruses... uh, memes.

Posted By: Craig Deaton, Dallas, Tx - 04/08/2006 11:16:32 AM

In "Moving Mars" (which I -loved-), you write:

"Bithras was teaching me the art of lapwing-faking confusion or weakness for advantage."

Did you invent the term? If so, what did you base it on? If not, where does it come from?

looking forward to knowing,


Response: What is the origin of the term "lapwing"?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/08/2006 02:58:41 PM

Thanks for writing, Craig! I remember the allusion from Robert Graves, who, as I recall, in THE WHITE GODDESS used it in reference to the hiding of historical or cultural arcana behind a veil of riddles and misleading imagery, as a lapwing distracts from its nest those who would plunder it. Google on "Robert Graves lapwing" for some interesting web pages.

Posted By: Joseph Scharlau, Portland, Oregon - 04/05/2006 11:42:36 AM

Having read and enjoyed many of your books I have to tell you that I have a soft spot for Vitals, a novel that doesn't get much mention in your biographies. I'm just on the last few pages now and I wanted you to know how much of a joy it has been for me to read, with the science within being a real bonus. I think I will now have to further research our peculiar biology and the role that our "little mothers" play on our behalf and to our detriment.

Thanks so much for your work. You help the rest of us understand what is going on at the frontiers of science with a skill superior to your competition.

J. Scharlau

Response: Vitals
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/05/2006 12:25:05 PM

Thanks, Joseph! I think VITALS' rep will grow with time. Some of its squishier conclusions (as well as its dark view of immortalism) seem to put off a lot of hard sf readers--but that was true of BLOOD MUSIC at one time.

Response: Vitals
Posted By: patrick - 04/05/2006 01:59:15 PM

really, greg? having read eon, the forge of god, etc, long before i came across blood music, i wouldnt know it was received so. i felt greatly uplifted by it - and not at all discouraged by vitals.

perhaps it's similar to the hard assumptions many in the west make of socialism cause of its historical manifestations. (realising ideas and concepts arent inherently evil, i dont jump like that.)

Response: Vitals
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/05/2006 02:56:37 PM

BLOOD MUSIC has sold about one fifth to one tenth the copies what EON has sold. But that could be due in part to the unpredictable vagaries of publishing.

Response: Vitals
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/05/2006 02:57:51 PM

Make that "that EON has sold"!

Response: Vitals
Posted By: Howard E. Miller - 04/07/2006 01:24:31 PM

I wouldn't want to live forever, but 10 million years would be a good, solid number.

That's enough time to watch a few mountains grow and see Barnard's Star go by.

Response: Vitals
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/07/2006 08:17:46 PM

Hmmm... And eat a few nice dinners, meet a few nice sexual partners...? The problem with immortality is not the intellectual delights of seeing and learning new things, but the hugely multiplying savings accounts, the resulting increase in consumption, and the potential desire for huge numbers of offspring!

Are immortals willing to give up their wealth, eat less, and become celibate? Take a look at Joe Haldeman's BUYING TIME, A.K.A. THE LONG HABIT OF LIVING.

Great debate here, Howard.

Response: Vitals
Posted By: patrick - 04/10/2006 08:10:55 PM

greg, i did immediately look oddly at that 'what', an thought, 'um, isnt it that?' hahahah.

also, it occured to me (years ago, when i conceived of the concept of funxionality) that people would have to be "willing to give up their wealth, eat less, and become celibate" (or, rather, the first of what you said, and, normalising their metabolisms and not creating scads of offspring) just to enable/invoke what i consider spiritual balance.

lastly, i'm surprised you didnt cover the usual topic of memory storage an all. regardless, my answer to this is that if the universe is truly isomorphic, then its holographic nature would ensure (or, ensures?) that we understand this natural affect, and realise the ability to recall any data from the cosmos' inherent indentity. dig? (given your exposition of descriptor theory, i'm thinking you will.)

Response: Vitals
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/10/2006 10:15:40 PM

VITALS tries not to get too mystical, since the science is biology and the problem is physical immortality. The bit about the bacterial mind is pretty straightforward, actually... As to whether we download into the bacteria... well, I somewhat doubt it!

Posted By: Mike Glosson, rainy san diego...deep inthe cat cave - 04/05/2006 12:44:47 AM

Hi's been a few months...job change...anyway, Storm pestered me about not doing any rec reading in far too long, so I hit the mall and found DEADLINES which I am burning thru in my spare moments. The Hollywood aspects remind me a bit of similar sections in Tim Power's EXPIRATION DATE.
Other than that twighlight zone episode you wrote, is this your first Horror offering since Pyschlone?
And then I got to thinking about Psychlone, which gave me trouble sleeping when I read it when it first came out...and then saw it repackaged as LOST SOULS. And then I got to thinking about that and how much you wanted to see that on film...and got thinking about Hollywood pitch titles, which you must have already thought of..."Tornado of the Damned" "Hell Twister"...but maybe a bit too cheesy for you wanting your material associated with such a title...but movie titles like that would definitely grab the general horror flick audience.
So when in 2004 did this come out? Did I miss something on this during your ComicCon presentation that year?


Mike Glosson

Response: Deadlines, Greg Bear & Horror
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/06/2006 12:04:10 PM

Both Tim Powers and Clive Barker--among others--have recently explored Hollywood connections with spookery. And Stephen King's new novel does a completely different take on cell phone horror--all great fun (though I'd love to have had his cover on my book!). PSYCHLONE has been scripted but not optioned for film--might be a bit too strong. And the TWILIGHT ZONE episode from the mid-eighties was scripted by Alan Brennert from a short story published in OMNI, "Dead Run." So--no more DEAD titles! (Well... has anyone written DEAD LAST?)

Response: Deadlines, Greg Bear & Horror
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Sunnier San Diego - 04/08/2006 09:01:11 AM

Finally got a chance to finish up last night. You managed, a quarter century later, to creep my out again. Not as badly with your first horror offering (there are aspects of the primary plot device of Pyschlone that still squick me)but pretty close. I don't know Barker's work that well, but some of the "things" that hang around the ghosts in Dead Lines had a definite flavor that reminded me of aspects of Power's LAST CALL and especially his EXPIRATION DATE, though I had been hoping for a bit more in the coda.
Passed it over to my wife Storm, who is the ghost stories expert here. BTW, the episode based on your short story "DEAD RUN" was one of her favorite episodes in the second iteration of THE TWIGHLIGHT ZONE.


Response: Deadlines, Greg Bear & Horror
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/08/2006 02:51:13 PM

Thanks, Mike! I'd also mention King's "The Langoliers" here for a metaphysical nudge in the right direction.

Posted By: Steven Langley Guy, Croydon, South Australia - 03/29/2006 05:20:38 AM

Dear Greg,

I am a longtime fan of your books and I've enjoyed reading all of them.

However, I have noticed that Borders Australia hasn't stocked Quantico and the title isn't in Borders' TLU (title look up) system yet - which means there is no plans to stock this book in Borders' Australian stores. I work in Borders and I have checked this myself. I hope your publisher decides to promote your book in Australia - I would like to be able to buy it and recommend it to my customers.

I recently re-read Eon. It impressed me almost as much as it did when I first read it in the 1980s.


Response: Quantico in Australia book shops?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/29/2006 10:46:53 AM

HarperCollins UK published the book in November and handles both Australia and New Zealand territories. If Borders isn't carrying it, that seems very odd--unless they work from a list supplied by their U.S. counterparts, and only order titles also published in the U.S.! Which would also seem odd... So try another book store. QUANTICO is being published shortly in the U.S. by a whole raft of book clubs, including Book of the Month Club and Science Fiction Book Club.

Response: Quantico in Australia book shops?
Posted By: Michael Pine, Melbourne, Australia - 04/17/2006 05:40:29 AM

Nope this is correct, not on sale here in Australia, unless it has recently come into Australia.

I bought my copy from the UK, not long after I found out it had been published, which I believe was before Christmas, as I purchased the book myself, my wife saw it had arrived and took it before I even saw it and gave it to me as a Christmas present!! She is very thoughtful.

Response: Quantico in Australia book shops?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/17/2006 10:24:57 AM

Glad to hear you found a copy. I'll inquire about Australian sales--

Posted By: Andrew Oh-Willeke, Denver, Colorado - 03/28/2006 06:23:31 PM

From here:

"Surgeons operated on a 2-month-old Pakistani girl Tuesday to remove two fetuses that had grown inside her while she was still in her mother's womb, a doctor said.

The infant, who was identified only as Nazia, was in critical condition following the two-hour operation at The Children's Hospital at Pakistan Institute of Medical Science in the capital, Islamabad, said Zaheer Abbasi, head of pediatric surgery at the hospital.

Abbasi, the chief doctor who led the operation, said the case was the first he was aware of in Pakistan of fetus-in-fetu, where a fetus has grown inside another in the womb.

"It is extremely rare to have two fetuses being discovered inside another," Abbasi told The Associated Press, adding that he did not know what caused the medical abnormality. "Basically, it's a case of triplets, but two of the siblings grew in the other."

The baby comes from Abbotabad, about 30 miles north of Islamabad. She is the fifth child of a woman in her 30s, who was at the hospital to be with her daughter. Her father works in the Arabian Gulf.

Abbasi said surgeons removed the two partially grown fetuses, totaling about two pounds, that had died at about 4 months.

Other fetus-in-fetu cases have been reported elsewhere in the world. A report in a June 2000 issue of the U.S. journal Pediatrics called such occurrences rare and estimated their rate at about 1 per 500,000 births."

Response: Darwin's Radio/Children Like Medical Event
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/28/2006 07:48:36 PM

Fascinating. About 30 percent of human pregnancies start out as twins--most of those lose one twin early, to be absorbed by the mother, and sometimes one twin will absorb another, but this does indeed sound very rare. Kind of like a matreshka...

Posted By: Jonathon Townsend, All over the place - 03/28/2006 10:18:10 AM

I've just finished Anvil of Stars and still basking in the afterglow. It was just like eating a succulent steak. Thank you. I'll have something intelligent to say once it's been digested!

Response: Wow
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/28/2006 10:52:00 AM

Looking forward to your comments. Having my book broken down into useful amino acids--and then reassembled into your own proteins--sounds like a terrific process!

Posted By: Larry Rowe, Yukon Territories Canada - 03/25/2006 02:11:15 PM

Howdy Greg,

Having thought I'd read almost your entire catlog I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up and began to read a copy of Queen of Angels, it seems to be one that somehow slipped through. Either that or the ol' grey matter didn't twig to it. I've noticed that aging is beginning to have an effect on the memory, which brings me to Vitals. Had a hard time putting it down last night, this morning more precisely ***4:00 a.m.*** good thing it was Friday night lol.

I'm glad to see that your books are sucessfully making the transition from the Science-Speculative Fiction genre to mainstream fiction. There are too many great authors that have been under appreciated simply because of genre stereotyping, Philip Kindred Dick comes to mind. Unfortunately his few attempts at mainstream publishing didn't quite break him out of the stereotype. Ironically, it is quite remarkable how well he's done since 1982 though. The ol' artist appreciation syndrome.

I'm looking forward to when the movie rights for some of your novels are picked up and used. Blade Runner, Paycheck, Minority Report, and the Swartzenager movie were all good movies even if the script writers took a bit too much artistic licence.

I was just pondering somthing. If a person can accumulate as much as we can in one average life time, in a basement, an attic, a garage; it might be a good idea to invest in the storage space industry if the aging process is ever cracked.


Larry Rowe

Response: The garage will be overflowing
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/27/2006 09:56:06 AM

Thanks, Larry! Hmm... a very interesting question: Where will immortals store all their stuff? Sounds like the beginning of an Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven novel to me... We find that big ol' Self-Store Warehouse in the sky...!

Posted By: Stephen W Browne, University of Oklahoma - 03/23/2006 07:25:00 AM

Dear Sir,

I have a question relating to your late and sorely missed father-in-law that I hope you can help with. In two of his works he quoted poems that I have never been able to find.

1) In, The Enemy Stars: "He hath taken off cross and iron helm, he hath bound his good horse to a limb. He hath not spoken Jesu name, since the Faerie Queen did first kiss him."

For almost forty years I've bet myself that I'd find it some day, and when I gave up I'd write him, Now that is regretably impossible. It sounds like it ought to come from the corpus of True Thomas.

2) In, A Sun Invisible:

Thy merchants race the morning down the sea,
Their topmasts gilt by sunset, though their sails be whipped to rags
Who raced the wind around the world, come reeling home again
With ivory, apes and peacocks loaded, memories and brags
To sell for this high profit, knowing fully they are men!

If you or anyone knows the provenance of either poem, I'd be much obliged.

Stephen W. Browne
Norman, Oklahoma

Response: Anderson poem provenance
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/27/2006 10:04:00 AM

Thanks for writing, Stephen! I'll pass this along to Karen Anderson to get the proper attributions. The first quote may indeed come from Spenser's "Fairie Queen."

Response: Anderson poem provenance
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/25/2006 09:56:17 AM

Here's Karen Anderson's research and answer. Thanks, Karen!

Of the nine lines in question, I'm pretty sure eight are by Poul, although he didn't choose to include them in STAVES as he did so many verses from his books.

The four from THE ENEMY STARS are in the manner of a Border ballad. They suggest "The Ballad of Thomas the Rhymer," though the standard text hasn't anything like the stanza quoted.

The first line of the five from "A Sun Invisible" is from the play HASSAN, by James Elroy Flecker. The character who quotes it 'has read Flecker and Sanders in the original English,' so "Sanders" is presumably the author of the other four lines. That would be Winston P. Sanders, one of Poul's pseudonyms.

Here are the first two stanzas of "Thomas the Rhymer:"

True Thomas lay on Huntlie Bank,
A ferlie he spied wi' his eye
And there he saw a lady bright,
Come riding down by Eildon Tree.

Her shirt was o the grass-green silk,
Her mantle o the velvet fyne
At ilka tett of her horse's mane
Hang fifty siller bells and nine.

The full text is quoted online at

For comparison, here is a stanza of "The Faerie Queen," available at Project Gutenberg:

He had a fair companion of his way,
A goodly Lady clad in scarlet red,
Purfled with gold and pearl of rich assay,
And like a Persian mitre on her head
She wore, with crowns and ouches garnished,
The which her lavish lovers to her gave;
Her wanton palfrey all was overspread
With tinsel trappings, woven like a wave,
Whose bridle rung with golden bells and bosses brave.

The text of HASSAN is online at . The quotation, from a poem in Act II, is the second line of the second stanza here:

Thy dawn, O Master of the world, thy dawn;
The hour the lilies open on the lawn,
The hour the grey wings pass beyond the mountains,
The hour of silence, when we hear the fountains,
The hour that dreams are brighter and winds colder,
The hour that young love wakes on a white shoulder,
O Master of the world, the Persian Dawn.

That hour, O Master, shall be bright for thee:
Thy merchants chase the morning down the sea,
The braves who fight thy war unsheathe the sabre,
The slaves who work thy mines are lashed to labour,
For thee the waggons of the world are drawn--
The ebony of night, the red of dawn!

By the way, the first place I saw the line "Thy merchants chase the morning down the sea" was in a story by A. Bertram Chandler, published in ASF some time in the forties. He was a great fan of Flecker. I've been spreading the enthusiasm wherever I can -- go read the play! Then look for some of Flecker's other works.

Posted By: Gordon McGill, Toronto - 03/21/2006 09:02:22 PM

Hi Greg, I am usually pretty chicken about talking to people whose talents I respect, but I was brutally disappointed when Asimov passed on. I realized that I would NOT be given enough time to be a chicken forever. So, here I am.

I read Blood Music in about 1990 (I think) and I was amazed at the distance you took the idea. I judge Sci-fi by the novelty of the idea, and how many surprising implications an author can think of. Most come up with one or two consequences of a given development or event or technology. I have been overjoyed to see you take an idea and come up with implications that are so detailed, so numerous, well, most days I just sort of wonder at how you do it.

Personally, I think that the Eon/Eternity series had the most mind-bending implications in them. The part with the Trojan horse blew my mind. I have great respect for the Wachowski brothers and what they did with the Matrix, but after those books, you must have just shaken your head and wondered why they stopped so short of the possibilities you saw.

By the way, did the movie "The Cell" have anything to do with your book, "Queen of Angels"? I thought that there was a more than passing similarity. Your story was more interesting inside Goldsmith's head, but then again, the movie was Beautiful, visually stunning.

So, now I'm going back and just buying everything of yours I can get my hands on. I roam the used book stores and now have about 8" of books that you wrote on my shelf to read. I think that the next one on the list is Hegira. Maybe I should organize the list and read them according to your date of publication, I don't know.

I am glad that I found your site, and that I have this chance to correspond with you. I teach Technology to Gr. 7&8 students but I have a biology and psychology degree, so I can appreciate your writing on many levels. Any questions about sheet metal or welding? Let me know!

Your devoted reader,

Gordon McGill

Response: Have to Try
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/22/2006 10:28:41 AM

Many thanks, Gordon! With your biology degree, you might try DARWIN'S RADIO and DARWIN'S CHILDREN and let me know what you think. As for sheet metal or welding questions--my materials science queries now mostly involve how to buff out scratches and defects in DVDs!

Posted By: Jeannie Tursich, Toledo, Ohio - 03/19/2006 11:45:18 PM

I enjoyed the Darwin series immensly....I was left craving more. Your message was so poignant and elegant, a social commentary on prejudice and our societies fear of anything "abnormal." The Darwin books addressed this, and what fear will bring people to, so clearly. I only started reading sci-fi in the last 9 years and I am picky about what I am reading. Until I read some of your books, my favorite author was Robert Heinlein, you are right at the top in my opinion as well. I love a book that makes me think and expands my worldview. Thank you for your insights.
I hope someone else picks up the script for the Darwin series, I would love to see that movie! I am happy that you didn't let the SciFi channel change the story the way they wanted to, it goes against the whole principle of the the story. Thank you and have a great day!

Response: Are you going to write a third book to the Darwin series?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/20/2006 09:58:53 AM

Thanks, Jeannie. It would probably take a Robert Bolt to turn these books into a single movie--and even then, it would be four hours long! But we can always hope...

Posted By: Vivian Taylor, Payson, AZ - 03/19/2006 03:13:33 PM

Hello Greg,
These books are the first of your books I've read. I am hungry to read many more. I believe scifi writers like you, Stephen Baxter,Stephen R. Donaldson and more represent an evolutionary step yourselves. While scientists are the detectives, you are the messengers and sculptors of humanity's future. I'm 73, and the world of fantasy and scifi has been my primary world all my life. It's rationality has kept me sane in the irrational world we all live in.
Your idea of the neural network connecting all living things confirmed my view of life as well. Epiphanies have been important in my life, also. However, I winced at any notion of God or something outside my own body being involved. My most powerful and life-changing epiphany when I recognized that there is no God and said so to a friend. It was like a huge weight lifted that opened my mind to more exciting insights, emerging from one to the next. But I applaud your exploration of the nature of such experiences.
The coxsackie virus that devastated the SHEVA children fascinated me. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with that same disease - HFMD. I thought I was dying, as my body was rapidly covered with so many lesions that my skin looked like raw hamburger. My dermatologist frantically searched for a diagnosis as test after test came back negative, except for c-reactive protein that was off the charts. After three weeks, he finally found pictures in his medical books and description that matched my lesions and other symptoms. By that time, the virus had almost run its course. It had begun on my buttocks, spread everywhere, including palms, soles of my feet and inside my mouth and throat. Severe headache and stiff neck were the first symptoms. Nothing helped the itching and stinging. Only very strong tranquilizers got me through it.
Naturally, I learned even more from your description of it and its cause. My doctor, about to retire, had never seen a case in an adult before and rarely seen it on infants or young children. In the latter, it was very mild.
Sorry this is so long....Keep up your remarkable work!

Response: Thoughts on Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/20/2006 09:53:22 AM

Hello, Vivian! Thanks for writing--and for your kind words. I remember suffering through an adult onset of chicken pox--at age 27--and that was quite bad enough, thank you! Glad you recovered from your extreme bout with coxsackie. As for epiphanies--I have no idea whether God is internal, external, or whether that matters at all. I believe we often ask the wrong questions and draw all the wrong conclusions about such experiences.

Posted By: Ashok Banker, Mumbai, India - 03/18/2006 11:43:33 AM

Hi Greg,

I wrote you sometime last year, mentioning a hard SF book I was working on titled Palimpsest, and you were nice enough to reply and encourage me.

Well, the book's due out in February 2007 as the lead title from a new SF imprint called Solaris, launched recently by BL Publishing (of Games Workshop, UK)! So wish me luck. I've authored six fantasy novels internationally (18 novels in various genres in India), but this is my first SF novel, and it fulfils a lifelong dream.

I consider the novel to be homage to you and your body of work--although the final novel may not seem obviously to resemble any specific novel of your's--and my dream now is to get your signature on my first copy!

Thank you, for all your great books which inspired me, and for your kindness in encouraging me.

Ashok K. Banker
Author of The Ramayana series

Response: Hi again from Bombay, India!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/20/2006 09:46:55 AM

Congratulations, Ashok! Sounds like a great start to a fine writing career. (And lead title, too!)

Posted By: Julian Ryan, Melbourne, Australia - 03/16/2006 09:38:32 PM

Hey Greg,

Once again you've blown me away. Just finished Moving Mars and i really loved it. Got to admit I was wondering where you were going with the story for the first part then all of a sudden I found myself eating sleeping and dreaming Moving Mars, I couldn't put it down!!!

Just ordered a signed copy of Quantico, thanks for posting that on your home page. I've been waiting patiently for it to appear on the shelves here but couldn't wait and what a bonus its signed!!

Keep up the great work Greg, thank you so much for the entertainment! I'm literally drinking a beer as I type and saying CHEERS!


PS. Are you coming to Australia in the near future for any conferences or shows?

Response: Moving Mars
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/17/2006 11:34:31 AM

No higher praise, Julian! Glad you enjoyed MM and hope you like QUANTICO as well.

Response: Moving Mars
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/17/2006 11:35:17 AM

P.S. No plans for an Australian trip for now--but I'd love to get down there soon.

Response: Moving Mars
Posted By: Julian Ryan, Melbourne, Australia - 03/20/2006 08:49:37 PM

You are welcome!

You probably already know about this but stumbled across Google maps of Mars:

Great to put some actual pictures to the images I had conjured up!

Response: Moving Mars
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/21/2006 01:00:15 PM

Google Mars is fun. Waiting for the resolution that lets us zoom in and see people walking and cars driving...

Posted By: Rouald A., Switzerland - 03/16/2006 06:47:33 PM

Greg, just a short one here, as it is late.

I re-read Slant again on the weekend, drawn to it for a while. There is something very healthy and grounding in art drawn so closely to things we live in dealing answers to now. This makes inspiration.

It occurs just at the moment to wonder what might happpen if you made a tale in the ethos of Callenbach's original Ecotopia, further along in time.

And what if dataflow were not just a market? But had a frame, an outside vision, with a complex(ity) relation to the current, scale levels of changing social will?

I have liked the unusual generosity showing through, some new paths I think you work to explore, in the conclusion of Darwin's Children, and especially in Dead Lines.

Would like just to mention Walter Fontana's name, for any use.

These times: make us pause even in imagination, and reconsider, visit old homes, derive new nexts, do they not?

Best, Greg, and thank you, from quite often, quite a lot. It's very good, exciting, contributive, and important work.


Response: telling it slant
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/16/2006 08:00:38 PM

Thanks, Clive! I'll look up the folks you refer to.

Posted By: Andrew Cummings, Corvallis, OR - 03/16/2006 03:11:24 PM

Hi Mr. Bear,

I am a big fan of your work, and just finnished re-reading the Darwin series and 'The collected stories of Greg Bear.' I was wondering if you had created, or know of anyone who has created art that has to do with the story Hardfought? The whole idea of modified clone soldiers and the way you describe them is amazing, and how you end the story, with an even farther-future version of the soliders, beautiful! Anyway, I would love to know if art like that exists and where I might see it. Also, are you planning a thrid 'Darwin' book? I am really interested in the social and political implications of a new...species? race? whatever, branch of humanity. Makes me sad sometimes that we don't have the communication ability of the Shevites, seems that we could avoid many of the modern misunderstandings that plague us. Thanks for your time! Keep writing 'em and I'll keep reading 'em!


Response: Art for 'Harfought' and more..
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/16/2006 04:10:30 PM

Thanks to you, Andrew! No solid plans at the moment for a third DARWIN'S book, but my original scheme did include that volume, so we'll see. As for art for "Hardfought," there's the original black and white art in ASIMOV'S by Van Dongen, and there's some fine work--also b&w--by Dennis Smith in the Arkham House collection, "The Wind from a Burning Woman." And then there's the pb cover from Tor, rather abstract as I recall. I don't know of any other art.

Posted By: Robert A. Aubertin, Canadian all the way! - 03/12/2006 05:32:21 PM

I just finished reading Slant, and I loved it. Greg?s puzzling look into one of a thousand possible futures is unique and dynamic. I loved his attention to detail, especially in the area of medical advancement. Just the thought of a toilet that can diagnose a cold is brilliant. Greg, I am quickly becoming a big fan of yours. Think I might read Dinosaur Summer next. Yeah, I am definitely going to read Dinosaur Summer next!


Response: Just read SLANT...and
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/13/2006 11:11:50 AM

Thanks, Bob! That diagnostic toilet recently showed up in THE ISLAND... but the filmmakers may have gotten their idea from a Japanese firm that's actually designing these units now. Whether they got it from me is not known--after all, it's a fairly obvious idea, no?

Posted By: Josh Crick, Cherry Hill, NJ - 03/11/2006 11:54:24 AM

Dear Mr. Bear,

I am 23 years old, and as is typical of many of my generation, I was njever really into reading outside of those required for school. However, when my father (an avid fan) suggested Darwin's Radio, I was hooked. I have since read Darwin's Children and Blood Music. I always enjoy your writings and respect you for it. My question being, is there another Darwin book coming out? If so, I will be there immediately to get it. Thank you for your excellent work and amazing books. Keep them coming!
Josh Crick

Response: Excellent reads...more on the way?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/11/2006 06:20:54 PM

Thanks, Josh! I contemplate a third volume, but there are no contracts in hand at the moment.

Posted By: Gregor Claus, Halle(Saale) / Germany - 03/11/2006 04:48:40 AM

Hallo Greg,
after reading yuor books "Darwin's Radio" and "Darwin's Children" I was quite amused, because we came, if I understood your ideas right, on 2 differant ways to 2 quite similiar ideas of that big network humanity is (you on the biological path, and I on the philosophical one). In your critical afterword (I hope it´s the right translation), you talk a little bit about your thoughts of a religious experience.At that point a question was unfolding in my brain:
Is that, what we call a spiritual or religious experience, may be, only a moment in which we discover the meaning of what this thing humanity, that is bigger than its parts, is?
So that it is simply a moment of truth?
Do we really need a god beyond our experience?
Couldn´t be humanity that thing, we call usually god? (So that "he" isn´t the creator of the universe.)

Gregor Claus

P.S. I hope my schoolenglish is good enough, so you can understand what I tried to say.

Response: The Humanitynetwork
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/11/2006 06:19:06 PM

Hello, Gregor! Thanks for writing. Your English is just fine. These are all good questions--being put in touch, somehow, with the larger network (through biological or other means) might indeed induce such an experience, in theory. However, the experience was such as to suggest that's an inadequate explanation. And so it remains, for me--a tremendous experience I am not yet equipped to understand. Dismissing it or explaining it simplistically is not only less fun (we writers thrive on mystery, after all) but dishonest, and so I await further experience, evidence, etc., to sharpen my answers.

Posted By: Kosta Lagis, Australia - 03/07/2006 08:22:19 AM

I became deeply interested in science a few years ago when i plucked an ageing copy of Carl Sagan's Cosmos from the shelf and read it. Carl speaks of the tangible wonder of the universe and science itself; It struck a chord of sorts.

I honestly believe people who find the idea of a scientific universe cold and unsympathetic should read some of your work, and understand the sheer wonder that the cosmos offers up.

My questions to you Greg;

a) what is stance on current religious trends? which leads me to -

b) I get the impression you may be a spiritual person and a scientific one - I personally am not an advocate of atheism for reasons perhaps more important than weather or not I believe in a cut and dried "GOD"
I noticed in "Eternity" you seemed to venture into a very compelling idea of a final mind, and in "Eon" speak about a part of a person impossible to synthesize - is this perhaps a parallel to your own ideas about spirituality?

thanks very much for your time, and your fantastic work!

Response: wonders...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/07/2006 10:39:00 AM

Thanks for writing, Kosta! Like Sir Arthur Clarke, I tend to be something of a techno-mystic. There's no essential conflict between science and faith, but for the time being, they do not effectively overlap in what they attempt to explain--and there are enough blank territories in both science and faith to provide infinite material for speculation!

Posted By: patrick, tucson - 03/03/2006 04:00:26 PM

New Paint May Lower Your Exposure to EMF Fields

In spite of all the advantages cellular phones provide us, unfortunately, it's become the norm to hear them ringing loudly and unexpectedly in a crowded movie theatre, concert hall and even church. A New York company is working on new technology -- a high tech paint supercharged with nanotechnology -- to block these interruptions on demand.

NaturalNano is developing a substance blending tiny copper particles into paint without affecting how it adheres to surfaces. That, in addition to a radio-filtering device, would collect phone signals inside a shielded space, allowing some to pass and blocking others, preventing social disturbances.

I am seriously considering painting the inside walls of my home and especially my bedroom to create an EMF neutral zone where my body is not constantly assaulted by frequencies it was never designed to be exposed to.,0,5826117.story?coll=ny-

Response: dig this current 'nano' application
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/04/2006 06:18:59 PM

Cool idea, but haven't tiny particles of stuff been embedded in paint for years? So is this really nanotech--or just tiny particles of stuff? I might be turning into a nano purist, for which I apologize in advance!

Response: dig this current 'nano' application
Posted By: patrick - 03/04/2006 10:36:38 PM

yeah, the same thing occured to me, and the article itself doesnt really go into the process. the premise behind it i think is great, for the following reasons: 1) shielding is good for our bodies; 2) it might help put pressure toward the development of local communications hubs within structures.

Posted By: Howard E. Miller, Augusta GA - 03/02/2006 02:39:08 PM

Your idea of Jarts containing a sort of hodgepodge of programs reminds me a lot of the way the human brain is put together. We contain many different processes for analyzing sensory input. It starts out fairly simple, for example a few photons arriving together stimulate an optical receptor, then builds in complexity, activating various parts of the brain as patterns are analyzed and meaning is assigned.

Oddly, it makes me hopeful that artificial intelligence will be accomplished some day, and will be greater than the sum of its programming.

Hopefully, we'll never be so cruel as to produce an AI that rival human sensibility.

Response: Jart Cola
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/02/2006 03:17:54 PM

Perhaps it would be cruel to limit an AI to a PURELY human sensibility--or capabilities! But then, we'd be creating our successor, wouldn't we?

Response: Jart Cola
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 03/03/2006 04:11:28 PM

greg, yes, very possibly....or, perhaps, a (n intimate) vehicle to further ourselves - which has always been my aspiration, within such speculative circumstance.

of course, if one considers the universe sentient, then simply 'transcending'....invokes....this.

and, lastly, given the above, however sentience emerges, the term 'aritficial' is incorrect.

Response: Jart Cola
Posted By: Ryan Costa, Cleveland, OH - 03/04/2006 07:37:27 AM

AI only needs to be about 90 percent of Average human intelligence to make most of us - in an economic sense - easily replaceable by machines. Then humanity can get on to the real important business: selling each other insurance and loaning each other money for securities speculation.

On the downside, AI only needs to be about as smart as a pigeon for the construction of millions of smart bombs to be as easy as manufacturing millions of Sony Playstations. At this quantity it doesn't quite matter how fast or accurate they are. Where are the Sony Playstations made?

Response: Jart Cola
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/04/2006 06:19:49 PM

Should we coin the word "noofact?"

Response: Jart Cola
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/04/2006 06:24:35 PM

By pigeons, I think, in North Tonawanda...

Half-seriously, I'm not sure some days whether I have 90% of the intelligence of the average human being--if that human is an auto mechanic, plumber, or even another writer! One good discussion might focus on intelligence within a given environment, or IQ measured while facing specific challenges. Generalists might still do better than truly smart bombs.

Posted By: Christopher Pearson, Cambridge, MA - 02/25/2006 07:29:37 AM

Howdy, Greg-

Really looking forward to reading 'Quantico' when i get my hands on a copy. Too bad the 'Darwin's Radio/Children' thing didn't pan out, sounds like they would have screwed it up pretty royally anyway. Thought you (and your readers) might find this interesting (if not humorous and a tad bizarre)- someone just tipped me off to this band from your neck of the woods (Seattle) called "BloodHag". Every song they write is about a different SF author (ex: "John Brunner", "Arthur C. Clarke", "Octavia E. Butler", "Philip K. Dick", to name just a few) and apparently they throw classic SF paperbacks into the audience during their performances. I can't say the musical genre in which they swim does much for me (it's thrash-metal), but as a musician who's been heavily influenced by SF (including you), i find the whole concept pretty cool and noble- anyone who can expose people to good SF and in general just inspire people to read through such novel means is OK in my book (puns not intended...)

here's a link to their lyrics site, it's definitely worth a look if you want a chuckle:

also, they appear to be having open nominations on their myspace site for people to suggest other SF authors for them to write songs about- i say it's high time the world is ready for a speed-metal tune about Greg Bear! (c'mon, people, let's nominate!!)

for the record, i'm not affiliated with the band or anything- i just heard about this, thought it was pretty cool/funny, and reckoned i'd pass it along. My big claim to fame is releasing an album on Seattle's Sub Pop label back in '92 that took it's name from your magnificent earlier novel "Blood Music".

now only if Hollywood will get off it's butt and get "Forge/Anvil" made, i'll truly be happy! cheers!


Response: pop culture update: Band rocks SF authors...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/25/2006 03:05:55 PM

We're well acquainted with BloodHag up here--they've played at our recent Seattle Nebula Awards Ceremony, and have written songs about yours truly and many others. Our kids have their bumper stickers on prominent display in their rooms, "I (heart) my Philip K. Dick," "Michael Moorock," etc. Fine folks all. Thanks for the kind words and wishes, Chris!

Response: pop culture update: Band rocks SF authors...
Posted By: patrick - 02/27/2006 01:18:42 PM

fascinating. never woulda thunk it. i only happen to have heard this group - and i only vaguely remember them by their title - cause i listen to xm radio's liquid metal. i dont really recall their 'sound', but, hey, carrying on such an endeavour (particularly for the metal crowd, as they tend to be very self-destructive) is killer.

Response: pop culture update: Band rocks SF authors...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/27/2006 03:03:21 PM

And their music is pretty good, actually--as far as I'm able to judge, since I have to listen from two blocks away to preserve my shell-like ears!

Posted By: Alissa, Portland, OR - 02/20/2006 07:15:57 PM

I sold all my books when I moved (over three hundred) but found I had made a grave mistake. Somehow my favorite book The Infinity Concerto ended up in the stack. I have to buy that book again. I haven't read any of your other works to my knowledge, but as a fellow writer, this is one of the most substantial books I have ever read. Very very good. Thanks for cretaing it!

Response: The Infinity Concerto
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/20/2006 07:59:15 PM

Thanks, Alissa! Fortunately, Tor has produced an omnibus volume of the two novels, SONGS OF EARTH AND POWER. It's out in paperback and you might find used copies in hardcover and from the Science Fiction Book Club as well.

Posted By: Greg Stewart, Minneapolis, MN - 02/11/2006 09:43:25 AM

I eagerly look forward to reading 'Quantico (waiting for the electronic edition), but I am very excited to hear about 'The City at the Edge of Time'. For all the things I love about your writing, your ability to describe situations that are outside of human experience and humans' ability to perceive (the Jart capture and the storing of the humans in 'Eternity', the meeting with the Staircase God in 'Anvil of Stairs', the time in the country of the mind in 'Queen of Angels', the interactions of humans 2.0 in 'Darwin's Radio' and 'Darwin's Children'... just a few examples, I could go on) is top of the game in the writing world. This sense of expanding what is possible, not only in narrative, but almost experientially, is what makes you one of my favorite authors... and I expect to see this in 'City...'.

On the subject of deep time stories, didn't you have a story in an anthology of stories at the end of time. I don't remember the editor, I can't find it again (lucked onto a copy in a local library that is no longer on the shelves), and didn't recognize it in your Bibliography. I loved your description of time ending and their experience in that story. Do that more!

On your movie deals... I for one am not disappointed that any of your books haven't made the big-screen yet. Your stories are so big, complex, and rich that I fear they won't survive translation to a 2-3 hour movie experience without being gutted... and few would sit through the 10-20 hour movie they'd need to make to minimally capture the scope of one of your novels.

Keep writing! Someday, give us the next chapters of the 'Forge of God' and 'Anvil of Stars' stories... both at the children's new home and back in the solar system. Someday, show us the story of the ascendancy of the new humans in the Darwin's. Someday, give us the next tale in the series that started in 'Queen of Angels' and continued in 'Slant' and 'Moving Mars'... I need to see what happens to Jill and where Mars ended up.

Greg Stewart

P.S. Also give us electronic editions of the above stories... I've moved away from paper books due to mold allergies, convenience of carrying my library in my hand, and a wish to limit the number of 'things' I have around. I need to get electronic editions of some older books by you, David Brin, John Varley, Michael Swanwick, George R.R. Martin, and Roger Zelanzy... some of the best of the best!

Response: Deep Time Stories...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/11/2006 02:31:10 PM

Thanks, Greg, for the very kind words. "Judgment Engine" appeared in Gregory Benford's anthology, FAR FUTURES, published by Tor in 1993. FORGE OF GOD has just had its option renewed by Warner Brothers, and is apparently about to go through another (and I hope ultimate) round of scripting. The current draft--by Ken Nolan and Stephen Susco--is absolutely stuffed with "sense of wonder" material straight out of both FORGE and ANVIL OF STARS. I'm very optimistic.

Response: Deep Time Stories...
Posted By: Greg Stewart, Minneapolis, MN - 02/12/2006 09:41:41 PM

Greg B,

Well... if you are still comfortable with what they're planning, I'll hold judgement... I've just been so disappointed so many times before.

Thx for the reference to "Judgment Engine". That and Haldeman's "For White Hill" were the best of that anthology for me. Now I can find it again.

And you are welcome for the words... but they aren't kind, just acknowledging all the hard work you put in to take us to places we haven't even thought we could imagine!

Greg Stewart

Posted By: Michael Pine, Melbourne, Australia - 02/08/2006 09:20:44 PM


sorry to hear about the SciFi channel, would have been nice for you, but probably wasn't meant to be, sure something better will come up for you, really cant wait to see one of your novels translated to TV or Movie.

Finished reading Quantico on the weekend and been trying to work out, why it was that I did not like this book, I honestly have to say this is the first book I have ever read from you, that I had a hard time reading and getting into, it was a struggle from start to finish.

I am not sure if it was the whole FBI, Military, War, connection, I dont know. The characters seem to spring to life in front of me because of the way you describe them but I just could not get into this book.

I found the whole plot line a little un-inspiring and a bit predictable, it seemed almost as if in deed this book was scripted for a tv series!

I feel kind of bad writing these things, because of the immense enjoyment I have received out of every one of your books over the last 10+ years.

anyway, I just felt like I need to express these thoughts to you. Having said them I already feel better and am every excited about the City at the end of Time.

Good luck for the future! and always, Thank you!


Response: Quantico and the SciFi Channel
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/09/2006 09:56:31 AM

Thanks, Michael! For an alternate point of view, take a look at

Posted By: John Koziol, Miami, FL - 02/05/2006 01:05:08 AM

Did you know you're mentioned in Stephen King's latest novel, "Cell"? Something about computers that reboot themselves.

Response: Mention in Kings "Cell"
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/05/2006 03:54:57 PM

I'm reading CELL now and enjoying it immensely. I'm sure I'll come across that reference--Thanks, John!

Posted By: Kathy Loya, Altadena, California - 02/04/2006 09:49:51 PM

I loved Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children - have re-read them several times each. I am disappointed that the Sci Fi channel development deal didn't work out, but I am glad you did not let them so alter the story.

The concept that brings me back to these stories again and again is that there is wonder in new-ness, but also loss and threat. We have to ask ourselves who we would align with - the people trying to destroy and suppress what is new, or those who take a chance and nurture it?

Will you write another story about them? I hope so. I check the bookstore every time I go, hoping to see that you have done so.

For the record, I think the Sci Fi channel seriously underestimates its audience in thinking that the children had to be alien threats. Silly people.

Thanks again. I love all your work, but the Darwin series is my favorite.

Response: Darwin's Radio
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/06/2006 11:30:05 AM

Thanks for the kind words, Kathy! The DARWIN'S books are in hiatus for the time being--let's see how things shake out in New York over the next few years. I would like to do a third.

Posted By: Chris Wakelin, Reading, UK - 02/02/2006 02:32:08 PM

First, I'd like to add my name to list of people disappointed about the SciFi Channel and Darwin's Radio. One of their productions made to terrestrial television over heer last year. I'd call it "Fantasy on a Theme of Ursula le Guin" rather then "Earthsea" as they did (mind you, it was quite good, all the same)!

Have you ever tried some of the recent (and not so recent) adventure games on PCs? I'm a huge fan of "The Longest Journey" (sequel due in a couple of months!) which has a very strong story line, a little reminiscent of your "Songs of Earth and Power", in that there are two worlds, one of Magic, one of Science, and an eventual reunification. ("Songs" is probably my favourite of your books, though Eon, Forge of God, and sequels run it close!)

Best Wishes,

Response: Interactive Fiction
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/02/2006 03:27:40 PM

Thanks, Chris! No gamers/interactives have expressed serious interest in my books for years now. I did consult with a good group at the XBox division of Microsoft--but that project didn't come to fruition, either. Hope springs eternal!

Posted By: Mike Casassa, Virginia Beach, Virginia - 02/02/2006 05:33:16 AM

I think I recieved an e-mail which mentioned a new book titled, "City at the End of Time" and gave a pub date of Feb. 06. I do not see anything on this at this time? Did I perhaps get something wrong?

Also, any news on a US pub for Quantico?

thank you,

Mike Casassa

Response: New book?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/02/2006 09:55:28 AM

No emails with such info were sent by me... CITY is still being written! U.S. pub for QUANTICO is announced on the web site's start page... Thanks, Mike!

Posted By: Ryan Costa, Cleveland, OH - 01/29/2006 01:22:37 PM

I'm sorry to read that Sci-Fi Channel had attempted to irredeemably alter the plot of Darwin's Radio. Perhaps a Canadian production company would handle it better, since the New Types seem more Canadian anyways. It ain't like the motion picture version requires big special effects.

Response: Sci-Fi Channel bail out
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/29/2006 03:23:27 PM

What--Canadians smell like chocolate?! A lot of Sci-Fi Channel's productions are filmed in Canada, of course.

Posted By: Alan Docherty, Teddington, Great Britain - 01/27/2006 12:49:51 AM

Greg, Great work on Quantico - especially the uncertain cadence of the ending. Also having read what happened to the Darwin books at the hands of The Sci Fi Channel executives confirms what I've thought for years: The SFC is rubbish. It puts the name of Science Fiction in a bad light. It makes me embarrassed to admit I read Sci-Fi. Can't somebody get them to change their name to the " Low grade, dumbed down, sensationalist mini series and re-runs of the old Outer Limits Channel" There, I feel better already. Have a great 2006. Alan

Response: Quantico and The Sci Fi Channel
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/27/2006 10:56:00 AM

Glad you enjoyed QUANTICO, Alan. (U.S. readers will have to wait until this spring for the trade and bookclub editions.) In all fairness, Sci Fi has done well with "Battlestar Galactica," "Farscape," and the Dune series--but has had problems bringing other literary sf material to the screen. At least they give it a try. I've worked with some of these folks before, and they are smart and capable. I do not know what skews their original instincts--unless it's wariness about the reactions of a larger TV audience.

Response: Velcro TV
Posted By: Howard E. Miller, Augusta GA - 01/30/2006 02:33:06 PM

If you had carte blanche to make any science fiction novel into a movie (except your own) - what would you choose - and how would you change it to make it a viable screen play?

Response: Quantico and The Sci Fi Channel
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/30/2006 03:56:45 PM

Well, carte blanche and viable are almost contradictory, no? If I didn't have to make any money, I'd adapt Olaf Stapledon's LAST AND FIRST MEN as a multi-part motion picture, using all the digital technology available today. (Actually, this reminds me of John Collier's screenplay for PARADISE LOST, quite a marvelous piece of work on its own!)

If I wanted to be much more practical, I'd do James Blish's BLACK EASTER and AFTER JUDGMENT DAY. Those, properly done, would actually make a lot of money.

Response: Quantico and The Sci Fi Channel
Posted By: Vicki Bickford, Vancouver - 02/01/2006 12:12:38 AM

The Matrix was sensational because it gave us a chance to stare disturbing concepts in the face and enjoy them. The reactions of the audience reminded me of the response that JPL personnel had, as a whole, when Voyager first started sending back those early images of Jupiter's ring. They were giddy, and it was wonderful to be there. What I saw totally blew away the concept of a stodgy old scientific community that hated change. The story of SciFi's reworking of Darwin's Radio, and the idea that they would so change the story because they worried about satisfying a mass audience is really disappointing. Of any community who would be open and even welcoming of change, it would be the scientific community, and as an offshoot, scientific entertainment.

Response: Quantico and The Sci Fi Channel
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/01/2006 10:01:22 AM

The scientific community strongly supported DARWIN'S RADIO as a provocative piece of entertainment. I wish there were a hundred million more like them!

Posted By: James, Des Allemands, LA - 01/24/2006 09:06:07 PM

I was introduced to your works completely by accident. A friend's friend left Eon at my house. So I picked it up and read it. I was hooked, I went out and bought every one of your book I could find. That was over 10 years ago. I have since read all of your books. I have even hooked several other people just by giving them Eon. I find it imposible to pick a favorite book(s), Eon/Eternity Forge/Anvil Songs of Earth and Power. Everything you write I enjoy reading, I'd enjoy reading your grocery shopping list.

But back to my question, what was your favorite book to write?

Good luck on getting Forge/Anvil on the big screen.
I know I'll be first in line to see it.

Response: Keep up the great work
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/25/2006 01:41:52 PM

Many thanks, James. Hard to say what was my favorite book to write--they all had their moments, challenging and otherwise!

Posted By: Gene, WV - 01/24/2006 08:14:06 PM

The new book due out next year, "City at the End of Time" sounds vaguely like Ellison's "City at the Edge of Forever"...inspiration or coincidence?

Response: City?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/24/2006 08:18:03 PM

Both, more than likely! There's also CITY AND THE STARS by Sir Arthur Clarke, CITY by Clifford Simak... and so on. Harlan, by the by, is SFWA's Grand Master this year. Congratulations to him!

Response: Cities in SF?
Posted By: Alan Docherty, Teddington, Great Britain - 01/27/2006 02:21:52 PM

Don't forget "Cities in Flight" by James Blish.
Or have I made that up?

Greg, Fair comment about Farscape on the SFC. While I've got your attention, any of you Stateside read Iain M. Banks?

(That's Iain Banks in Sci-Fi mode.)

Response: City?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/27/2006 04:42:31 PM

Both Iain and Iain M. Banks are much appreciated here. And once "City" goes plural, we open up a whole bushel of influential titles--Blish, John Shirley, Proust, among others! (I'm re-reading CONSIDER PHLEBAS now.)

Response: Ian M Banks and Greg Bear
Posted By: Sean Brazell, Madison, Wi - 02/16/2006 06:28:11 PM

I live stateside and very much enjoy Ian Banks work. In particular - all of the Culture books are fascinating - You've got to love the sarcastic, slightly (or occasionally not so slightly) ships AI Minds! I particularly enjoyed the conversations purely between the ships minds in the book "Excession"! I've gone back and reread Eon after finishing Excession and I have to say, Greg Bear and Ian M. Banks should get together and write something! In my opinion the style and substance of both authors complements each other quite well!

****JOY!**** Greg's writing Space sci-fi again!!

That's all from the Frozen Tundra of the
Greater Midwestern United Kingdom of the
Boy-King Bush..

Response: City?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/16/2006 06:44:55 PM

Thanks, Sean! It's good to get back to far future stuff--though whether there's much real space left to explore, so very far in the future, is a tough question! So how much of it is space sci-fi remains to be seen...

Posted By: Ryan Costa, Cleveland, Ohio - 01/24/2006 04:16:19 PM


I particularly liked the way you wrote things set around the 1930s and 1940. At least what I read from Dinosaur Summer and the parts from Infinity Concerto and Serpent Mage. Will you ever write a book set during these time periods in the U.S. again? Or even Canada.



Response: Early Twentieth Century
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/24/2006 07:17:28 PM

I do like those historical settings--might return to them someday. For now, however, I have to leap forward trillions of years...

Thanks, Ryan!

Posted By: Kathy, Nr Manchester, UK - 01/23/2006 02:06:45 PM

Dear Mr Bear,

Just finished Darwin's Children, which I was unable to put down once I started reading it. Have not read your books before, and found this an excellent introduction!

I was fascinated by the whole discussion of genetics and retroviruses. I have no specialist knowledge of this area, but just interested in the subject (I find Matt Ridley's books particularly accessible).

I was also interested in your suggestion that there were already older Shevites originating in the Georgian/Armenian area. I know the people there have a reputation for longevity. What inspired you to use this idea?


Response: Darwin's Children
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/23/2006 02:41:42 PM

Hello, Kathy! The Georgian connection began with Georgia's preeminence in phage research, as well as the forensic investigations and criminal activities that could be excused by Stalinist purges. It all came conveniently together when I added in the possibility of "hard times" triggering speciation. While the Nazis never invaded Georgia, the Soviet Union's harsh policies during and after the war certainly qualify...

Posted By: Phil Smith, tlanta, Georgia - 01/22/2006 10:01:10 PM


I am a big fan of yours, and decided recently to reread Forge of God (first time was about 15 years ago). As with most of your works, this one would make a fantastic film - the characters are wonderful, the imagery fascinating, and, most of all, the message important. I am aware that some talk has been going on about making Forge of God into a film. Is this going on? If so, who's working on it (I read that Ron Howard might take the helm)?


Phil Smith
Atlanta, GA

Response: Forge of God film
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/23/2006 09:57:18 AM

Thanks, Phil. FORGE is still in development over at Warner Bros. Keeping one's fingers crossed for almost two and a half years is fun! Ron Howard was involved briefly back during the early development phases, but did not commit.

Posted By: Heath Fodor, Spring Arbor, MI - 01/20/2006 04:32:30 PM

Dear Greg,

I am currently reading Queen of Angels. I am coming across alot of terms that I do not understand. Lobe sod...wholevid...eloi It is far from confusing. I believe that these terms will be made clear during my reading. It is not my habit to ask any author for assistance reading their work.

A glossary of terms on this site would be great. I hope I have not embaressed myself too much, I think the style of this novel is far more exciting than any other science fiction book on the shelves. To think I used to believe Neuromancer had a cool style and feel.

I get that the + are thoughts.

Thanks for the great books


Response: Glossary to Queen of Angels
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/20/2006 04:50:44 PM

Many thanks, Heath! A glossary would be nice...but as you say, you're working out the meanings without one, which is certainly more fun (this from a guy who's still reading FINNEGANS WAKE!). Let me know if any of the terms hang you up.

Response: Glossary to Queen of Angels
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 01/24/2006 10:23:53 AM

Hello Heath,

Look for the situation where Richard's thought notation changes from a "+" to a "-". If you have any insight regarding this shift, then please share your thoughts with me!

eloi wannabe

Response: Glossary to Queen of Angels
Posted By: David Wright, Texas - 01/24/2006 09:42:28 PM

I came up with a glossary when I read both QoA and Slant. I have them on my website, You should scroll down past my few rants to the menu near the bottom and click on Greg Bear (of course). I can't vouch for the accuracy of the glossaries, they are just what I thought the terms meant at the time. Also, there is a timeline for the books, as well as a combined timeline for QoA, Slant, and Heads, with a little of Moving Mars.

Just for your info, there are no ads on my site, it's just a goofy thing I'm experimenting with (i.e., I'm not really trying to drive traffic there).

Somewhere back in Mr. Bear's blog is a conversation we had about the dates in the books. I think there are a couple of "typos" in Slant as far as dates are concerned. One is that a meeting one of the characters attends is called the "February" meeting, when it is most likely the December meeting. Slant occurs 4 years after QoA, by my reckoning.

Finally, note: Spoiler Warning! Don't read through my "research" if you haven't finished the books.

Response: Glossary to Queen of Angels
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/25/2006 01:43:29 PM

Thanks, David!

Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 01/20/2006 01:04:11 PM

Hello again Greg,

I have started reading QUEEN OF ANGELS again - this time with the goal of taking another step below the surface of the story. (I usually read for simple enjoyment a couple of times before I try to get to the meat of things.)

One thing has popped up once again that I just can't put my finger on: Mary's abhorrance and terror of hellcrowns and the entire Selector movement. I understand that all of society in Mary's universe has a fear of Selectors (and the possibility of being clamped), but it seems to me that this practice touches a deeper chord in Mary. However, I can't decide on the reason(s) for her extreme reactions. I have paid particular attention to her personal history but can't detect a clue to the reason behind her extreme fear of being exposed to, and her deep sense of the injustice to, Selector victims. She obviously has a great deal of empathy with them.

I am tempted to settle on the idea that her's is "simply" a moral conviction, and her personal mission as a pd and member of society, but that seems too easy. And I do know you...

Do you have something that you wish to share about Mary or shall I just let this be a mystery/challenge for now?


P.S. BTW, I want to affirm here once again the delightful read that QUEEN OF ANGELS (and SLANT) is. The prose is interesting and fun, and the picture that you paint of that society is absolutely believable and very interesting. A truly original and unique hard sf work.

Response: Mary Choy and Hellcrowns
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/20/2006 03:51:41 PM

Thanks again, Jimmy. Mary Choy's aversion is moral rather than experiential. Hellcrowns are part of a past they'd like to forget--a near-future, for us!

Posted By: Chris, Belgium - 01/18/2006 01:29:30 AM


I would very much like to know which of your books are about the asteroid, and in what order they are set.

I've read Eon and Eternity, and I'm reading Legacy now.

I like your writing very much, and though I'm a native Dutch-speaker, I'm reading the original English versions of your books, because I find that translations don't do them justice - a lot of detail gets lost in the linguistic differences, and when the translator gets carried away and starts translating too much, some terms and names start sounding ridiculous and that takes off some of the quality of your work...

Thank you for writing such excellent books.

Greetings from Belgium,

Response: Order of books on Thistledown
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/18/2006 10:06:30 AM

Thanks for writing, Chris! The sequence for these novels, chronologically, would be LEGACY, EON, and ETERNITY. If you're reading the novella "The Way of All Ghosts," it would come after LEGACY. "The Wind from a Burning Woman," published back in the 1970s, precedes/predates them all.

Posted By: andy, Highlands ranch - 01/12/2006 12:30:15 PM

I realize that it may be taboo to ask a superb SF author for book recommendations, but I thought I would take a chance. I love your work and plan on reading Quantico as soon as possible, but coming from an established author, what have you been reading or would you recommend to read? I read a lot as I teach English and reading is one of my things, but I am kind of in a spot where I have exhausted my books. I need some ideas. Seeing as I love your work I thought who better to ask than the man himself. Let me know your thoughts. And by the way, can not wait until the Darwin series is on SF channel. That is going to rock. You are the man!!!!

Response: recommendations
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/12/2006 12:49:43 PM

Just a short list of upcoming books here. Mary Rosenblum and Karl Schroeder and Vernor Vinge have new books coming out soon--haven't had a chance to read them yet, but they all look very promising. I might also recommend Charles Dickens while we're at it--as I work on a new novel, I like to go back to old favorites, and am currently reading DAVID COPPERFIELD--and LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry!

Response: recommendations
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 01/12/2006 08:45:47 PM

and, putting in my two cents, as i have in the past, of authors i have in the past....check out gregory benford, and dan simmons.

(incidentally, greg, ive been showing some of the posts round simmon's site, in response to one particular member's nitting about how he doesnt like your stuff - to which he has no supporters, and i do! RAAAAA.)

Response: recommendations
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/13/2006 09:53:34 AM

The list of good authors could go on for days--! And I'm happy to post them here, per reader suggestions. Thanks, patrick.

Response: recommendations
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 01/19/2006 12:43:14 PM

Hello Andy,

Please read David Brin's Uplift books if you have not already done so. STARTIDE RISING and THE UPLIFT WAR are magnificent. (There are six uplift novels.) Also, I really enjoyed KILN PEOPLE, also by Brin.

If you are going to check-out Benford, be sure to read AGAINST INFINITY.

I must also mention Larry Niven and Robert Heinlein out of deep respect and reverence, although Heinlein's political perspectives can become tedious after a time.


Response: recommendations
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/19/2006 01:46:07 PM

Quite agree on all these. Michael Cassutt (another recommended writer) and I provided intros for the excellent and comprehensive Science Fiction Book Club anthology of Heinlein's non-Future History stories, OFF THE MAIN SEQUENCE. Great fun to re-read all those classics and get some perspective.

Response: recommendations
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 02/28/2006 12:19:34 PM


I went to the bookstore and could not find Vernor's new book. Do you know the name of it so that I can order it? I can't locate a webpage for him.

Thanks so much,


Response: recommendations
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/28/2006 02:30:58 PM

It's called RAINBOW'S END and its available from Amazon.

Posted By: Mike McCaa, Huntington Beach, Ca - 01/12/2006 10:16:33 AM

Taiwan breeds transgenic, fluorescent, green pig....

I read this article and immediately thought that this is the year, it seems, Mary Choy will be born.

In your works and the works of Dan Simmons...there is an incredible amount of prescience. It's entertaining. And then it's scary.


Response: I read the news today oh boy.....
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/12/2006 11:16:51 AM

Thanks, Mike! I think Mary Choy has a few more years yet--she's in her thirties, if I recall correctly, in QUEEN OF ANGELS. That fluorescent pig could lead to green ham and eggs, of course...

Response: I read the news today oh boy.....
Posted By: David Wright, Texas - 01/25/2006 03:22:19 PM

Mary is born in 2019, according to QoA. According to Slant, she is now 35 (Part 1, chpt. 5). These don't reconcile with other dates in Slant, which by my reckoning is 4 years after QoA (which definitely occurs in Dec. 2047, making Slant Dec. 2051). I think the typo is in Slant, and she's really about 32 (thus about 28 in QoA).

Of course, if the typo is considered to be in QoA, then she was born in 2016. However, I choose to think of her as younger. :)

Response: I read the news today oh boy.....
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/25/2006 04:27:33 PM

If we ever reissue QOA in a new edition, I'll look over these corrections, and any others that sharp eyes pick out!

Posted By: Anonymous, Hamilton, New Zealand - 01/12/2006 04:00:57 AM

Hi Greg

Just finished reading Moving Mars for the fourth time, I just love the scene where the QL thinker chooses the bad path, brilliant!
Anyhow, I was at a dance party last weekend and it got me thinking. Is the amity sim Casseia attends on Earth your extrapolation of current rave/dance culture? I find the majority of people at events I attend are taking Ecstasy, and it seems to generate a very amicable 'vibe' that (for a few hours at least) manages to bond large numbers of strangers.

Keep up the great work!

Response: Dance Parties
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/12/2006 11:14:28 AM

Heaven forbid that anyone would take a drug as crude as Ecstasy so far in the future, Simon! I take no responsibility for Casseia's youthful ventures... except, of course, for that physics and math enhancement, which probably does not contribute much to party conversation.

Posted By: Justin Collver, Lucan, Ontario - 01/11/2006 07:31:51 AM

Hi. I really liked your book Rogue Planet. But in it, when Vergere was describing the unknown species (unconnected to the force, used living armour) and there were all kinds of scars that looked like it was from plasma on the planet Sekot, was the unknown species the Yuuzhan Vong from the series Dark Tide by Michael A. Stackpole?

Response: Unkown Species
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/11/2006 09:58:16 AM

Absolutely! That was the one ingredient my editors suggested I include in ROGUE PLANET, to set the scene for later novels.

Posted By: Jake, california - 01/10/2006 08:58:36 PM

Dear Greg,
I am a high school student doing a report on your book. I recently finished it and I found it fascinating. Ive never been huge on science or science novels your novel has changed my perspective. I know that sheva is fictional but does the possibility of Herv actually exist? I am also curious about the politics of science and how cut throat it seems. Are scientest truly shunned for actions like mitch's or contraversial ideas to the extreme they are in the book?

Response: Darwins Radio
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/11/2006 09:51:42 AM

Hello, Jake! HERV do exist, though nothing quite like SHEVA has been found--yet. As for the politics--like all human activities, science has its animosities and rough spots. Many of the scientific portraits in DARWIN'S RADIO are drawn from life. Scientists--like most of us--resist change, and they certainly resist change that brings into doubt the work that made their reputations! But science marches on... And right now, biology is racing.

Response: Darwins Radio
Posted By: kingsley yin, Burlington, NJ - 01/11/2006 01:15:41 PM

Hi Jake and Mr. Bear,

Being a medical Scientist myself, I feel compelled to say a few words. I think it is not only ideas that cast doubt onto work that has made reputations that gets put down, but also ideas that challenge dogma. When I was a Graduate student in University of Western Australia (late 80's), there was a Medical Attending there who came up with the ridiculous idea that stomach (and duodenal) ulcers were caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. Noone believed him and the large American Pharmaceutical companies who had a vested interest in seeing him wrong (they sold billions of dollars worth of H2-receptor blockers) set out on a negative campaign to destroy his idea. When I met him I asked him how in the world
bacteria could live at a pH of 2 (pH of stomach). At the time he didn't have a particularly good answer. Not sure there is one even now. To cut a long story short (as I am sure you know the rest), Barry Marshall was awarded the Nobel Prize last October for his discovery. Now 80% of peptic and duodenal ulcers can be completely cured by antibiotics. I cannot imagine how many cancers this cure has prevented. My point is that dogma is hard to overcome, and if money is involved its even more difficult.
I loved both the Darwin books.


Response: Darwins Radio
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/11/2006 01:38:22 PM

Thanks, Kingsley! Marshall's story is both rewarding and sobering. Biology for centuries has tended to be more dogmatic than, say, physics--where graduate students are encouraged to disprove Einstein--if they can! This seems to arise out of the stresses and demands of medical culture--and perhaps even more important, the war between religion and science over evolution and other matters--inspiring rigidity and sloppy thinking on both sides. We simply have to be aware, every single day, that we have a lot to learn. The world is much too complicated to be understood by dogmatists.

Posted By: Joerg Hippo Thomsen, Germany - 01/06/2006 06:34:53 AM

Dear Greg Bear!

I just finished reading Dead Lines. It took me about half the book to figure out, what direction the story was heading. Having read most of your SciFi nocels, I wasn't quite sure, what to make from it all, but the writing drew me in an I just coulnd't stop. An amazing read and some intersting insights...

Peter seems to be really whole as character, with you displaying oh so many facets of him ad his thoughts...

There was only one tiny flaw, that seemd completely out of place, esspecially since I got the impression, that you take your time doing a fair amount of research on the 'backgrounds' of your creations. I cannot recall the page or the exact phrase, but it was something about the engine of the Porsche 356C, it's pistons moving up an down like...whatever.
They don't do that.

The 356C has a flat-4 cylinder Engine, a boxxer as it is called in German...

I really enjoyed that ment when I felt an echo of Robert Frost drifting through chapter 48, like a shadow: And miles to go before I sleep.

Kindest regards, Jörg Hippo Thomsen

ps: I am really looking forward to the next Greg Bear novel on my reading list!

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/06/2006 11:39:58 AM

Right you are, Joerg--those cylinders run sideways. Since I own a Porsche, I should know that about the 356C!

Hope you like the next book... QUANTICO should be published in Germany soon.

Posted By: David F. Dickinson, Southfield, Michigan - 01/05/2006 10:44:51 AM


At 1:30 A.M. just finished reading "Quantico" . It was a thrilling ride.The near future is always the scariest place to be.
I loved the character development and the chapter by chapter movement of each to tell the story.
Some may accuse you of getting the "Clancy" award for disclosing new military technology, but life has always imitated art.
Bio-terror is perhaps the most insidious type of weapon and just makes one want to shower a lot and live in a cave.
You may retch at the suggestion, but this would make a great movie.
Perhaps a bibliography of some of the material you obviously researched would be of interest.
I hope you get your U.S publishing qlitches worked out real soon, this is too good to stay hid. Otherwise do what I always do, "sue the bastards"..

David F. Dickinson
Southfield, Michigan

Response: Quantico
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/05/2006 11:29:12 AM

Many thanks, David. We have good news about QUANTICO--it's being picked up for a major book club deal. Details as soon as I have them. No movie action--but I recommend people see both MUNICH and SYRIANA.

Response: Quantico
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 01/05/2006 07:03:28 PM

ya, syriana was heavy. some people left the theatre i was in, i think, cause it was too dismal, too like what they see on the news. they wanted an action flick, like the trailer seemed to indicate.

aint seen munich, yet, but want to. good to hear the stop has been pulled on US publication of quantico.

Response: Quantico
Posted By: S. Parmar, England - 01/24/2006 10:42:14 PM

People who watch Spielberg's Munich should be aware that like all drama based on life some events are doctored.

For example, the same Mossad team's real-life murder of a perfectly innocent Moroccan waiter in Norway is deleted from the narrative of the film - thus avoiding the embarrassment of showing one of the murderers later hiding in the Oslo apartment of the Israeli defense attaché to Norway, a revelation that did not do a lot for Scandinavian-Israeli relations.

Read the review by Robert Fisk at

Response: Quantico
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/25/2006 01:45:43 PM

Indeed. "Munich" is taking criticisms from both sides--which is no doubt what the filmmakers expected.

Posted By: Seth, Columbus, GA USA - 01/04/2006 09:56:37 AM

I've been a fan of your work for sometime but only now have I started Forge of God, and what a start it's been. Quite the page turner. My question is regarding a movie adaptation. Your site shows that it's been optioned. Realizing that probably thousands of optioned books remain on the shelf for years and never get produced, I still can't help but hope that Forge could hit the big screen someday soon. Perhaps the recent successful release of War of the Worlds stirred up some interest.

Response: Any Forge of God movie news?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/04/2006 10:45:25 AM

FORGE is still being developed at Warner Brothers--but no greenlight yet! Stay tuned...