From: David Gress
Another fantastic book from the Bear. Allow me three points from the pedantry department:
You say the "Tombers" use the Julian calendar, and that it is eleven days ahead of the Gregorian, so that their Good Friday occurs before ours.
Not correct. The Julian calendar is now thirteen days behind the Gregorian. I write this on November 30, which is November 17 in the Julian calendar, so their Easter and Christmas will always be later than in the Gregorian, not earlier.
Second. Fouad al-Hussam carries an Arabic name, but is an Iranian. Fouad is a classic Arabic first name. Al-Hussam sounds Arabic, if only because of the article al-. As you know, Farsi is an Indo-European language of very different structure from Arabic, which is Semitic. If you choose to give an Iranian an Arabic, and not an Iranian, name, you owe some explanation.
Third, Mohammad Mossadegh fell to a CIA-orchestrated coup in 1953. Therefore, if Fouad the Iranian's grandfather escaped Iran in 1949 after the coup, he must have been a time traveler.
I also find the "Jannies'" Muslim orthodoxy puzzling, in two ways. Why would an American authority employ faithful Muslims, whose loyalty to the umma must precede any loyalty to an infidel regime such as the U.S.? And why would they "quietly" put aside pork ribs in their rations, when we all know how loudly Muslims complain if they are within three feet of a pig? These Muslims are decidedly un-Muslim. They act, well, tolerant, submissive, and Christian.
That being said, Greg, you write the best science and political fiction since the good old guys. You know who I mean.
From: Greg Bear
Agreed on almost all points, David--terrific copyediting! I wish you'd been able to weigh in before the book was published. As for Fouad's name, however, his father is an Egyptian Arab, his mother of Iranian descent. For some reason, he sides with his mother, who was something of a visionary. Her father was forced to flee Iran in the 1950s, not 1949. Thanks!