"I'm not sure I ever thought of myself as a child. I was born in New York City and early on was transplanted to Tucson, Arizona. My mother was an invalid and I more or less ran the household. I vividly recall reading Dante's Inferno under a flashlight aged ten or so. I wrote humorous pieces for the high school paper. Thank God Cows Can't Fly was one. I also contributed pieces for the local paper. For instance, I waged a one-man campaign to stop people from killing the so-called Gila Monster, a harmless, though ugly, lizard. At a tender age
I wrote my first sci-fi story, The Inclined
Plane, which was inspired by the Sisyphus story. My father actually composed
songs. One of these, God Bless the Child was sung by Billie Holliday.
At one time I may have wanted to be like him, but I think I always dreamed
of being a writer."
I then asked Herzog what subjects had interested him at school and college. From his replies he appears to have had a foot in both the Arts and sciences — a true Renaissance man.
"While still in high school I took university courses in psychology. I was fascinated. I suppose I got this interest from my famous grandmother. As an undergraduate my field was social science, which encompassed economics, sociology and history. I was particularly intrigued by theoretical science and wanted to understand society from a factual point of view. "After graduating I did an M.A. in English Literature. I saw this as a step towards becoming a writer. I have always had a futuristic slant and so the writers that most impressed me then were people like H. G. Wells.
Before long we had got into the subject of IQ83. I certainly discovered a Wellsian quality to this particular novel. Some of the moral issues explored in it were those that the great man would have recognised a hundred years ago. The difference between Herzog and his hero, however, lay in their backgrounds. Wells had trained as a biologist, whereas Herzog's scientific expertise lay in other areas. So where did the idea for the rogue virus come from and who did he turn tofor research assistance ?
"In the Sixties I was a journalist for the New York Times and the magazine Think. I specialised in interviewing leading intellectuals, many of whom were scientists.
"That's how, for instance, I met Edward Teller, one of the brains behind the atomic bomb programme, because of a book I wrote called the War Peace Establishment. "Later I was to bump into the other -Robert Oppenheimer - while on vacation. Both men I found arrogant.
"Back then I also interviewed the
Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, and Aldous Huxley, who were very modest,
despite their intellect. So I was interested in the work of such men and
later on, when I was thinking about IQ83 my friends were mainly academics
and I used to bounce ideas off them.