Sunday, December 18, 2005

State Of Fear

Part of the danger of reading several books at the same time is that more than one can be finished in a short period. So it is now. At random, then, this is a review of Michael Crichton's State of Fear. Only a few of the books in the works are dead trees, and this one was an audio book, checked out of the local library, and consumed, mostly, on the way to or from work.

The plot revolves around global warming, ecoterrorism and related topics. A significant amount of science is bandied about. All of the standard tricks for making a point in science (even when the point is out and out wrong) were used, and many were explained. The author argues from an unpopular point of view, namely, that Global Warming isn't a threat, that it is ill defined and, by the way, evidence for it is difficult to come by. The idea seems to be to make the reader uncomfortable. If that goads the reader into learning some real critical thinking, and perhaps even doing some real research, perhaps this is a good thing. However, The Andromeda Strain, and Jurassic Park were more enjoyable. At least in these books, one could easily tell where the science ends and the fantasy starts.

There was also a break in the suspension of disbelief. One of the characters was supposed to be a mega genius and expert in a variety of fields, including computers. This happens to be an area of expertise for me. The expert just didn't get it. Honey pots and Trojan horses were particularly badly mishandled. These items were not critical to the plot, and proof reading by someone who uses computers for something other than just word processing could have improved the narrative significantly. If the expert wasn't very good with computers after all, then perhaps he wasn't competent in other areas. Without competence, the whole thrust of the novel unravels. Come to think of it, computers weren't handled all that well in Jurassic Park. Perhaps this proof reading thing will have merit in the future as well.

On the positive side, now that the name has been pronounced by an actor, I can, with confidence say that I know how to pronounce Michael Crichton's name. It is pronounced Michael Crichton.

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