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Reading Group Guide
by Robert J. Sawyer
Many reading groups and book clubs have enjoyed novels by Robert J. Sawyer.
The following questions may help stimulate an interesting
discussion about Triggers. (These questions
might also suggest essay topics for students studying the book.)
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Note that these questions reveal much of the novel's plot; to
preserve your reading pleasure, please don't look at these questions
until after you've finished reading the book.
- How does the assassination attempt on President Jerrison echo the
assassination of JFK? Or the attempted assassinations of Gerald Ford and
Ronald Reagan? How do you defend against a conspiracy? How do you defend
against a psychopath? How do you defend against people who are there to
- Do you think it's possible for a known atheist to be elected president?
Would you vote for an atheist?
- If you could access the memories of one other person, who would you want
it to be? Who would you not want it to be?
- If your thoughts were being read by another person, who would you want
it to be? Who would you not want it to be?
- When Kadeem Adams forced President Jerrison to have a flashback to Iraq,
did you think that was fair?
- Should Bessie Stilwell be judged on her private thoughts?
- Sawyer gets you to like the hospital administrator, Dr. Mark Griffin, then reveals
that Griffin deliberately defrauded Medicare. In real life, does everyone have
a dark secret? Or is it just in fiction?
- Do you think the cities that were attacked in Triggers: San
Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington, are all likely targets for
terrorists? Do you live in one of these cities? Are you afraid of an attack?
- Did you think that Operation Counterpunch was a good idea? Can its
comparison to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki be justified? Is there a
difference between a country declaring war on your country and a country
harboring terrorists who have declared war on your country?
- Much is made of President Jerrison being a Republican. How Republican
is he, really? Is Operation Counterpunch a Republican idea? Harry S.
Truman, the president who ordered the bombing of Japan, was a Democrat.
- Dora Henessay's mother had left her father when she was a small child.
If she left because he had abused Dora, should she have eventually
told Dora? Or should she have kept it secret?
- Janis Falconi's husband was able to abuse and control her because only
he knew she was a drug addict. Sawyer suggests that if we are all connected
in a hive mind, where everyone knows everyone else's secrets, then all
abuse will stop. Do you agree with that?
- What did you think of Janis Falconi's gaming friends? How about the
description of Professor Singh's kirpan, or Dr. Eric Redecop's Bose
noise-canceling headphones, or the Beast? How do all these
bits and pieces work together to create a believable story?
- Did you watch Aaron Sorkin's series The West Wing? Would you
watch the fictional TV show Inside the Beltway? Does politics make
- Did you watch the ABC TV series FlashForward based on Sawyer's
novel of the same name? If so, did you notice references to the series
in Triggers? Did they add something special to the book, or
is FlashForward just another pop-culture reference?
- Did Triggers challenge your thoughts on "eye-witness"
testimony or "mind" reading? Now that you know how memory works, do
you look at your own memories more critically?
- Did Sawyer convince you, by the end, that a hive mind is a solution
to terrorism? Is it a necessary step in our evolution? Do you want to
take that step?
More Good Reading
Download this Reading Group Guide in Adobe Acrobat Format
More about Triggers
Reading Group Guide Index
Reading Group Guide for Quantum Night
Reading Group Guide for Wake
Reading Group Guide for Rollback
Reading Group Guide for Mindscan
Reading Group Guide for Hominids
Reading Group Guide for Calculating God
Reading Group Guide for FlashForward
Reading Group Guide for Factoring Humanity
Reading Group Guide for Frameshift
Reading Group Guide for Illegal Alien
Reading Group Guide for The Terminal Experiment
Reading Group Guide for End of an Era
Reading Group Guide for Golden Fleece
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