From: Michael Grosberg
I just finished reading your latest novel, and I enjoyed it immensely. I liked the near future setting and the extrapolation of the results of American involvement in the middle east (I do have a vested interest in the outcome :) )
I do have a couple of questions. First of all, I'm interested in Tommy's habit of miming a quotation mark whenever somebody says the word "think". Where did you get that detail from? Does it signify anything about Tommy's way of looking at people? at himself? Does he not believe himself to exist or to be self aware?
In Quantico you also wrote about American muslims, Iraqi citizens and Israeli religious fanatics. Is writing them different than writing about the mindsets of, say, characters from Mars Binding Multiples or Axis city? Did you interview such people?
All the best,
From: Greg Bear
Thanks, Michael! All social groups tend to be committed to their own perpetuation--what becomes interesting to me is the phenomenon of small offshoots with remarkably repetitious and familiar ideologies--purifying apocalypse, racial purity, religious inerrancy, etc.--who believe everyone else is wrong, so wrong that they must die. Sometimes, of course, the offshoot is allowed to grow and becomes mainstream--and then, perpetuates and edits (persecutes) on a much larger scale.
Tommy's habit does indeed reflect the difficulty he has committing to a smoothly self-aware state, or connecting socially with large groups of people. He's smart enough to suspect this lack--but can't repair it. In short, his social brain is damaged.