Reading Quantico (2007-11-14/17)

"Goddamn it," the President said, "Did they give them to you without a subpoena?"....
Chao put on a stubborn look. "It is our job to find dangerous criminals. Would you have it any other way?"
--Greg Bear, Quantico

A friend who knew I had read local author Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio, Darwin's Children, and / offered another book after my appendectomy: Quantico. Like the Greg Bear books I've read, Quantico is still-relevant (copyright 2005, 2006) near-future hard science fiction. (The science is even more current than Quarantine.) Like the Darwin series, Quantico involves molecular biology; like /, significant events occur in Seattle and Washington (although some events take place at Quantico).

Quantico is a frightening techno-thriller set in the US after another attack similar to 9-11, intending to portray the dangers of bioterrorism like Amerithrax:
The biological weapons and process in this novel are possible, but not in the way I have described them. I have tried to persuade of the dangers without providing salient details.
The dangers are real, and immediate. Sober judgment, selflessness, nonpartisan planning, and sanity are the only solutions.
The story also includes a female president with a stand on violations of personal privacy as a strong part of her campaign. The tension between liberty and security is therefore part of the book. In the scene with the President and Chao, I also wondered why the FBI would not pursue a subpoena. (To their credit, several agents in the book express skepticism about information extracted via rendition or torture.)

Such famous quotes as, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety," and "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" show this tension is part of the history of the United States of America. Unfortunately, so is depopulation from imported infection--see Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Sometimes on issues with different but similarly important needs, debate becomes polarized around the conflicts between those needs. For example, economic growth and environmental health are in tension in environmentalism. In such cases one can sometimes search for solutions with synergy between the two needs, e.g., bright green environmentalism. This is the type of solution I support.

In Quantico, Bear uses his "powerful [imagination to]... conjure up not only possible methods of attack, but also ideas about how governments and individuals will respond and what kinds of high-tech tools could prevent attacks." Let us hope they respond in ways that enhance liberty rather than reduce it.