Thursday, November 17, 2005

Book review: I was in the mood for a quick, fun read, something I haven't had in a while (well, except, of course, for this gem). I picked up Michael Crichton's latest bestseller, State of Fear, in the grocery store, and went to town.

In case you don't remember, State of Fear is Crichton's challenge of the conventional wisdom on the subject of global warming. The main character is a lawyer who works for an environmentally hip philanthropist as well as the organization that receives much of his money. The preposterously naive young attorney believes everything he's heard from the environmental doom and gloomers he's surrounded by, even drives a Prius, though you can tell he likes the status of it, living in Beverly Hills, as much as the mpg rating.

Radical eco-terrorists rapidly enter the story and it becomes clear that they're planning a series of cataclysmic events to really drive it home to the public that global warming is a real and imminent threat (ah, yes, that famously skeptical public just doesn't seem to get it). Crichton's hero emerges, Kenner, part MIT geek, part Bruce Willis and drags the lucky lawyer around the globe with him, investigating the weather manipulating terrorists and foiling their plots one at a time.

Between adventures, Kenner educates Peter, the naif, about the truth behind global warming theories and the environmental left. It's pretty dense material, and Crichton doesn't make it easier on the reader by including lots of graphs and footnoting everything. You can tell he's done his homework, and even includes a nearly 40 page bibliography so you can check his facts. He's clearly bracing himself for a backlash against his challenge to the poliitco-scientific network that he attacks.

There's certainly plenty to debate and Crichton does a service I think by lending his name to the unpopular side of a cause. Unfortunately, he lent one stinker of a book to the cause. It's a series of speeches, cut with some badly thought out sort-of-hair-raising adventures, that are so obvious you see the resolution coming before he's even come close to getting you worked up with fear. Character development is pretty much ignored, except to say that every one is a left wing idiot, except for Kenner, and he slowly tries to bring them all around, with mixed results. Of course, they're all from California, so he's probably not very far off, but it makes for bad writing when you set up one straw man after another and pummel it with The Truth. And footnotes.

The only good thing I can really say about the story is that he probably pissed off the right people to avoid having it made into a movie. I'd take another Jurassic Park over this thing any day.

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