Reasonable Doubt

Reclusive writer Whitley Strieber reflects on his career — and ‘the visitors’ that interrupted it

Whitley Strieber at an exhibition opening at the Annenberg Space for Photography in 2016. Photo: David Livingston/Getty

Whitley Strieber was supposed to be the next Stephen King, a pop-horror writer whose golden pen produced books begging for big-screen adaptations. His first novel, the 1978 werewolf-realism procedural Wolfen, was turned into a movie by the filmmaker behind Woodstock. In 1983, his sex-vampire thriller The Hunger was adapted into a movie starring David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve, and Susan Sarandon. It was directed by Tony Scott, who subsequently made Top Gun. …

2019 may finally be the year for ‘The Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You’

All photos: Monique Jaques

In late November, hotel conglomerate Marriott International disclosed that the personal information of some 500 million customers — including home addresses, phone numbers, and credit card numbers — had been exposed as part of a data breach affecting its Starwood Hotels and Resorts network. One day earlier, the venerable breakfast chain Dunkin’ (née Donuts) announced that its rewards program had been compromised. Only two weeks before that, it was revealed that a major two-factor authentication provider had exposed millions of temporary account passwords and reset links for Google, Amazon, HQ Trivia, Yahoo, and Microsoft users.

These were just the icing…

“[At work] I very quickly found myself surprised by how frequently and nonchalantly I was sexually harassed… by men who could’ve been my dad or my grandfather.”

Illustration: Ricky Linn

Long Valley, New Jersey

Olivia Ferrucci: I’m the most frustrated by and the most passionate about gun control. As a high school student in America, I’m constantly in an environment where I’m statistically prone to experience gun violence. And there isn’t much being done on the legislative side to change that. I know the gun control debate is never going to be solved with an ultimatum, but I think compromises are feasible. Banning rifles like the AR-15, increasing the minimum age to purchase any gun to 21 — those seem like reasonable next steps to me. …

“I want to be optimistic… about being able to reverse all the damage that’s been done over the past few years. It just can get very hopeless sometimes.”

Illustration: Ricky Linn

Polk County, NC

Ailey Morlino: I would say my top issue would be the environment, because it’s very pressing, and if we don’t focus on that, then what’s the point of focusing on anything else?

Definitely, Elizabeth Warren is an eco-warrior. I love everything she says about what we can do to help and how that’s really the main issue right now. Obviously, Bernie Sanders is very passionate about the environment. I definitely look to those two a lot.

Oh, that’s tough. I want to be optimistic about the future and about being able to reverse all the damage that’s…

“I feel like a lot of times when people mourn, they’re not really missing the person as much as what the person gave to them.”

Illustration: Claire Merchlinsky

Los Angeles, California

Jonathan Lovett: I could name 50, but I if I had to choose one, I would say climate change, because it affects the entire world and the entire planet. I feel like that’s the most pressing thing right now, because we only have one planet, and without the planet, we don’t have countries, we don’t have political issues, no presidents.

I mean, obviously Bernie Sanders. I feel like everyone is going to answer that question with Bernie Sanders. I’m not super educated on all my local officials, which I know I should be, but I always forget…

“The society we live in today relies too much on hashtags to do the job for us.”

Illustration: Ricky Linn

Oakland, California

Somiah Nettles: Americans forget too easily. The society we live in today relies too much on hashtags to do the job for us. A young black man gets killed, becomes a hashtag, and gets talked about for two weeks, then basically gets forgotten about. We’re too worried about fashion and music and art to really realize this world is falling apart. It makes me think of the Childish Gambino music video, “This Is America.” …

“If I have something set, I want to go for it. I’m going to tackle it one step after another. And I am a hard worker.”

Illustration: Shannon Wright

Greenville, TN

Cheyenne Floyd: I’ve been with them since I was in eighth grade. I’ve learned how to deal with animals and how to take care of them, and how to grow different things in a garden that I never knew could go into a garden. Then you take all of that into the kitchen and learn how to cook with local fruits and vegetables and meats, and how to plan your business step by step, and then go into business after that.

Kinda sorta. It depends on the topic if I can get into it or not.

I always…

“I think adults think that we’re brain-dead, technology-addicted kids.”

Illustration: Ricky Linn

Berkeley, California

Simone Ewell-Szabo: My dad’s been in the Bay all my life. My parents broke up when I was little, and my mom used to live up in Grenville and in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but now they’re both in the Bay Area.

It’s definitely a bubble, but it’s a bubble that I’m glad I’m in. Historically, just the fact that I go to Berkeley High and we’re five blocks from a UC campus that’s been doing amazing demonstrations forever is pretty inspiring. …

“I’ve noticed many adults shaking their heads at our need to ‘complicate’ our own identities… [but] I believe we’ve just found words to articulate identities that have always existed.”

Illustration: Mallory Heyer

Paris, France

Sofia Sears: Democracy is not a spectator sport, but much of the current Republican Party’s agenda seems intended to exclude the majority from playing. Accessibility to voting is perhaps the most essential bedrock of a functioning democracy — like President Obama said in his farewell address, we must be “jealous, anxious guardians” of our democracy, but we can only do that when everyone is able to participate. Voter suppression ensures that we the people are not fully represented in the government and is intended to disenfranchise minorities in particular.

There’s this idea that my generation is needlessly creating…

“We’re angry, we’re passionate, and as we grow into adults in the midst of this raging political climate, we have voices unlike any others.”

Illustration: Ricky Linn

New York, New York

Zayira Ray: Gun control. With every mass shooting and with every lost life, I’m increasingly numb to the atrocities of gun violence in America. That in itself—the near normalization of mass shootings—is terrifying. To think our government unapologetically turns a blind eye to the loss of human lives, the loss of children’s lives, is despicable. It makes me physically sick. We need stricter gun laws, but even before that, our entire country (not only the left) needs to collectively recognize gun violence as the urgent threat that it is.

That we’re unaware. If anything, my generation…

Drew Millard

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