1. Many atrocities were committed under the Nazis. There were also many scientific advancements. How do you feel about the United States scrubbing the backgrounds of Nazi scientists in order to help give America a scientific edge?
2. How much of a threat do you think EMP’s are to our country? Discuss what the aftermath of an EMP might look like – what would it be like to live without electricity? How long could society survive? How would you prepare yourself?
3. Who is your favorite Athena Team member and why? Do you see some of your own personal traits in any of them?
4. What one thing would you need to work on in order to be an effective Delta Force member?
5. How did the interrogation scenes in the book make you feel? Do you support the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques?
6. With a brilliant scientist like Cahill, should his lack of ethics have disqualified him as a scientist? Is abhorrent social behavior ever permissible in pursuit of a greater goal?
7. Are there any operations that should be kept from Congress or even the president?
8. How do you feel about women being counterterrorism operatives? In what situations would it be preferable to have women engaged, rather then men? In which cases would men be preferable to women?
9. Trust and deceit are recurrent themes in the novel. What other prominent themes did you pick up on?
10. Does Gretchen’s relationship with her commanding officer effect her ability to lead her team? If so, how?
11. There were hints of possible deepening relationships between several of the characters. Which characters would you like to see become closer and why?
12. In the opening scenes of THE ATHENA PROJECT Bianchi suggests that Americans don’t speak any foreign languages and says, “America thinks it’s the center of the world and that everything revolves around it.” Do you agree or disagree? What do you think are the challenges and opportunities of such a national posture?
13. ATHENA Team member Gretchen Casey “color[s] outside the lines a lot. That’s what make[s] her team successful.” Why do you think “coloring outside the lines” could be valuable in her line of work?
14. Each of the ATHENA Team members has a great American story — whether it is Cooper’s immigrant parents who saved all they could to give her the best opportunities or Rhodes’s suburban childhood in the Midwest. With whose background do you identify most and why?
15. In THE ATHENA PROJECT Hutton suggests that, “The United States doesn’t have a choice….Quantum Teleportation has become the most aggressively pursued field of military research on the planet.” In the context of this story, do you agree that the U.S. had no choice but to aggressively pursue potentially dangerous technology? Why or why not?
16. In this thriller Brad suggests that “Scientists [come] up with an answer and [use] it to find facts while intelligence operatives [come] up with facts and [use] them to find answers.” In which field would you be more effective: science or intelligence operations? Give an example from your life where you’ve used facts to find answers or answers to find facts.