From: David Johnson
I'm not sure where to start, but here goes. I am a voracious reader of fiction, nonfiction or what have you. Not being familiar with your 'work', my wife purchased your book at a Dollar Store here locally. I attempted to read Quantico, really I did. For an author to make the word choices that you did in Q, it absolutely screams of an intellectual insecurity of untold proportions. I've read Flynn, Forsythe, Griffin, DeMille to name a few and they were actually written so reader can actually identify with the characters. I'm sure Michael Moore may enjoy your poorly penned anti-Christian screed, but not a retired veteran like myself. You chose to alienate roughly half of your potential readership; brilliant! I was only only able to muddle through the first 20%. Alas my gag reflex let me down after that...
I'm almost sorry to be so brutally honest, but someone who has to advertise all his of credentials on his product, such as all of the FBI seminars, really needs a dose of reality & humility. I've read authors with differing world views than mine and still enjoyed their work. Sadly, the same cannot be said about your book.
P.S.: I'm familiar with the liberal mindset of trying to marginalize or ridicule one's critics. That said, I attended the U of MN, lived in Europe for seven years and am bilingual. I've seen first hand that secular socialism isn't the answer, and eventually leads to a failed society. See western Europe. Bankrupt, childless, selfish and brainwashed across the pond dare I say.
From: Greg Bear
Ah, David, where to begin? Dollar store gripes. Wow.
I'm attending parts of the Homeland Security conference this week in Seattle and meeting with DHS S&T scientists, using that opportunity to firm up details on the sequel to QUANTICO. They're hardly flaming liberals. If you've pegged me as an intelligent Bill Maher-style leftie, you're mostly correct--but to my surprise, QUANTICO received positive reviews even from super-conservative web sites. Maybe it's a kind of IQ test. Pass and you get brownie points--fail and you get red in the face and start shouting. You're correct, of course--some of the biggest bestsellers do their best to be inoffensive. Not my style, I'm afraid.
From: Mike Glosson
Location: San Diego, CA
Wow...I'm stunned at Dave's response to Quantico...which I found even more fast paced and immersive than your SF works.
Have been wondering where you stood politically these days, after the flack you got from the Religious Right regarding the Darwin Books...but then again you are also a consultant/ThinkTanker for Homeland Security...and organization about as far from the Left as one can get.
Was wondering how Quantico II was going...hopefully this week will get you over that Bump and get it complete.
From: Greg Bear
Actually, there was no flak from the religious right about the DARWIN'S books. They tend not to read SF. The flak came from libertarian, largely atheistic SF readers who had apparently been seduced by Grover Norquist into voting for Bush and co. I don't get much complaining from that quarter now--and QUANTICO was well received there. Mr. Johnson's letter is a rarity in these troubled times. But talk radio still has a huge influence on conservative discourse. It's the crack cocaine of modern conservatism.
Damn, yeah, that was an interesting message, though not remarkably so. Humans are an emotional lot....well, this is an old saw from me, yeah?...in any case, there's always going to be something they're attached to. I find few real barbs in Dave's message. His rubarb was just ruffled, via his own meanderings, etc. As for the info he claimed was grand standing: I rather like to know that stuff, and it's cool we've talked about it an all.
Ah, shit, I forgot to mention: so the sequel to Quantico is set, huh? You's so funny.
From: Greg Bear
Finishing it now. Working title: MARIPOSA.
You lived in the Soviet Union?
"See western Europe"
Huh? There is no secular socialist state in Western Europe and never has been
Location: Everett, WA
Geez! I wish I had seen this one long ago. First, though I know David was referring to Maher's "Religulous," for any of you who might be wondering, I met Greg many years ago at a writer's workshop. He certainly is no Bill Maher. Maher is acerbic and clever. Greg is polite, pleasant, intelligent, and very easy to have a conversation with. Although I was somewhat in awe, he very quickly put me at ease. He, Megan Lindholm, another guy, and I had lunch together, after traversing the campus while Megan regaled us with stories of her neighbor who claimed to be channeling, Ra, I believe it was. (Greg, in case this is ringing a bell, the other guy was very small and slight, and had a shaved head and a Vandyke, long before that look could be thought of as anything other than "Mad scientist." He only lacked the lab coat.) :)
Anyway, isn't it nice to see how people react when they feel the foundations of their religious beliefs being eroded by such pesky things as logic? Suddenly the whole philosophy of turning the other cheek becomes overwhelmed by the need to lash out.
Regarding Greg's characters, character development, and the resultant ability of the reader to identify with them, I will say that Greg sometimes does take the long way around. He often gives the reader little pieces at a time, instead of just describing a shallow character right up front, as, for instance, Burroughs did. But, by the time I finish a book, I feel like the good guys are old friends, rather than muscle-bound paragons of unattainable virtue, athleticism, and heroism.
When I was younger, I sometimes found it difficult to "get into" some of Greg's stories. Basically, the problem was that not enough stuff blew up. Now that I am older, and going back and re-reading them, Greg is in my top four, along with such greats as Terry Pratchett, Tim Powers, and John Varley.
When it comes to religion or philosophy, there is really no point in attacking someone due to their beliefs. You are not going to convince them that you are right. You may get them to SAY you are right, but only because you have a weapon, and they wish to go on breathing.
I often wish "Christians" would follow the actual teachings of Christ. But, then, so did a lot of people who ultimately wound up on the wrong end of a sword. And, unfortunately, more modern weapons as well. The crusades aren't over, I'm afraid.
However, before anyone gets the idea that I'm against Christians, I should add that I've met some really annoying Buddhists as well. :)
From: Greg Bear
Thanks, Kelly! But "not enough stuff blows up"? I used to have the reputation for blowing EVERYTHING up. And MARIPOSA has lots of stuff blowing up, including a unique and new type of bomb which, fortunately, no one will be able to make for ten or twenty years. If ever. (I tried to live down my Earth-destructive past, so now in my stories I only blow up small stuff--convention centers, barns, that sort of thing.)
Location: Stockport, UK
Hmmm. Dave wrote: "...to make the word choices that you did in Q, it absolutely screams of an intellectual insecurity of untold proportions."
An accusation usually made only by those who are intelluctually insecure themselves? Perhaps someone could send him a dictionary.
Secular socialism in Western Europe? I wish!
P.S. I've just finished reading "City at the End of Time". Loved it.
From: Greg Bear