Disappointed Again

I am reading Michael Crichton's State of Fear (SoF).  I probably should do him the courtesy of finishing the book before panning it, but I am very disappointed.  I lived upstairs from Mr Crichton's brother in college.  I loved his brother dearly, so I always hoped to like his books.  He's an MD from Harvard, so I suspect he has a good mind.  He has obviously been a successful writer, and I have to admit I had a good time reading the politically incorrect Disclosure and Rising Sun,  but SoF is really beyond the pale. 

I don't mind so much his disingenuous use of selective evidence to attempt to debunk the underpinnings of global warming predictions (for a thorough rebuttal of his arguments see here).  But here is a guy who has made his living scaring the begeesus out of people with the horrors of microbes from outer space, cloned dinosaurs, unsafe airplanes, the evil Japanese, nanomonsters, etc, etc.  And what is the thesis of this new book, a political polemic (barely) disguised with a thin layer of fiction?  That global warming theory is a conspiracy of the evil environmental movement to keep the ignorant populace (that's us, folks) in abject fear.  Now, Mike, isn't that just a wee little bit hypocritical? 

I'm not sure I would mind putting up with the polemics, if it supported an even vaguely compelling story.  But in this case, the story is just too far-fetched, yet predictable and cursory, to keep me turning the pages the way a good thriller should.   I should have finished the thing in a couple of days, but I keep putting it down for a couple of days and coming back only from the feeling of obligation I have toward books that's like the obligation beaten into me in my youth to clean my plate at dinner.

I just hope that doesn't mean my mind is as flabby as my body...

UPDATE: Well, I finished the book.  No happier with its entertainment value.  Sure, the earth's climate is an incredibly complex and poorly understood system.  Mr Crichton has certainly educated himself thoroughly on the subject.  He has come to believe that predictions that the earth is warming due to CO2 emissions are false, or at best, unproven.  He believes that acting to limit these emissions will be harmful to the poor nations of the world.  He has taken this show on the road, lecturing on the topic to audiences who are receptive (and, I presume, pay his lecture fees). 

However, to palm off this lecture as a thriller, by painting it with a thin coat of improbable plot and cardboard characters and charging $27.95 for it...?  Disappointed still.

December 28, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, I come across an acronym to die for: LOMBARD = lots of money but a real dickhead.  So now you'll know what I mean if that expression should cross my lips.

December 15, 2004 in Books, Personal | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack