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Books: State of Fear
Thursday, 2007 November 8 - 8:38 pm
Another Michael Crichton science-fiction-y drama (i.e. the kind of book I read on airplanes).

You probably remember Michael Crichton from such books and movies as Jurassic Park, and, uh, Congo. After having made his start writing medical dramas (he went to medical school for a while, and ended up producing the television show "E.R."), much of his recent efforts have been dramatic thrillers, loosely based on scientific ideas.

In State of Fear, Crichton tackles global warming. Or rather, he spends about 600 pages on a diatribe about how global warming is a huge myth, and then weaves in about 100 pages of thin drama around the idea. The story is about a nefarious scheme by eco-terrorists who try to create tsunamis and floods in order to advance the idea that global warming is a threat to the world. Yeah, really.

You can't defend the story by saying it's simply a novel, because ordinarily, a novel would not contain hundreds of charts and graphs with footnote annotations about their sources. But neither can you say it's a scientific work, because Crichton fails to distinguish between the factual and the fictional elements of his writings. It's as if he's saying, "Look, I found this here information in a real scientific journal; therefore, you should believe my story that global warming was foisted upon us by minority elements of the scientific community, along with feeble-minded Hollywood celebrities and well-funded eco-terrorists."

Reading the book as a novel, I found all the ranting to be tedious. Reading it as an essay, I found all overblown drama to be tedious. Either way: tedious.

Do me a favor, Michael. If you want to be taken seriously about your thoughts on global warming, then make a documentary. Or write a peer-reviewed article in a scientific journal. Or heck, have a debate against Al Gore. But don't use a piece of fiction to advance your ideas.

As for your thoughts on global warming: I'm pretty convinced that you're wrong. I do agree that we, as a society, tend to have overblown fears about things that we don't understand. But I don't think you're adding value to the dialogue by injecting a bunch of pseudo-science into the picture.

You want to talk about overblown fears? How about the fear that gay marriage will ruin the institution of marriage for heterosexuals? Or the fear that illegal immigrants will destroy the American way of life? Or your own personal irrational fear, that liberal Hollywood elitists and media tycoons are brainwashing American society? Why don't you write about that?

Rating: 1/5
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Posted by Ken in: booksreviews


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