State of Fear

by Michael Crichton Year Published:
State of Fear is a brilliant piece of writing. It is a genre all its own, the "scientific thriller" genre essentially created by author Michael Crichton. This is is no airport bookstore science fiction paperback. There are no railguns, very few gratuitous exploding balls of plasma, and not one single reference to anything as -omatic or -tronic. The story takes place right here and right now, and the science is up to date and correctly represented. The reader sees the world from the eye of Peter Evans, a young lawyer with little to no knowledge of the science behind global warming except what's on the news. In Evans, Crichton embodies the average citizen -- well intentioned, willing to learn, but easily confused by detail and tenaciously clingy to what he has been told by the media. Evans soon meets gruff professor John Kenner, and from then on, it's James Bond all the way, except the baddies are radical environmentalist groups with plots to justify the illusion of global warming by creating man-made "natural" disasters. Science fiction lovers will enjoy a more realistic plot for a change. Nonfiction lovers will appreciate the political and scientific basis. I was going to say that only ardent supporters of global warming theories should avoid this book, but that isn't even true -- the evidence presented here, augmented by footnotes and appendices referring to real research by real professors, may be just enough to change your mind. The message, however, reaches far beyond the concept of global warming to expose the state if fear that controls public opinion today, in which words like "disaster," "cataclysmic," and "catastrophe" are bandied around lightly. In the end, however, State of Fear is anything you want it to be: a fist-clenching, eye-bulging, breath-quickening thriller, and accurate scientific primer on a hotly debated topic, and a scathing sociopolitical commentary. (recommended by Harvest, 2010)