January 16, 2005

Michael Crichton's State of Fear

Michael Crichton's new best-seller is State of Fear, a sci-tech thriller centered on global warming. As usual, it's written in his unique screenplay-as-novel style. Crichton is a notably and explicitly cinematic novelist; for him, the "novelization" comes first. But this one won't win him any friends among the Hollywood elites.

Why? Because State of Fear says global warming is bunk and the novel's villains are the icons of Hollywood itself: environmentalist actors, green activists, sanctimonious NGO spokesmen, etc. The Left is aghast.

Here's a typically horrified reaction, via The New York Times:

The novel itself reads like a shrill, preposterous right-wing answer to this year's shrill, preposterous but campily entertaining global warming disaster movie "The Day After Tomorrow."

In Mr. Crichton's ham-handed novel, the dangers of global warming are nothing but a lot of hype: scare scenarios, promoted by shameless environmentalists eager to use bad science to raise money and draw attention to their cause. For that matter, the ludicrous plot revolves around efforts by radical members of an environmental group called NERF (National Environmental Resource Fund) to surreptitiously trigger a series of natural disasters including a supersize hurricane and a giant tsunami that would hit California with 60-foot waves; these disasters would be timed to coincide with the group's big media conference, thereby awakening the public to the dangers of climate change wrought by global warming.

Here's the Los Angeles Times:

The question is why, on the subject of global warming, we should believe a techno-thriller writer rather than thousands of scientists from around the world, many of whom have devoted years to the study of climate change.

In perusing the body of Crichton's work, I may have come upon an answer. His interests have sent him traveling beyond straight-ahead science and into the psychic world, with layovers in channeling and exorcism.

You get the idea. It's no use wading into the fever swamps of the Far(ther) Left, but they must be just unglued that this book is #4 on The New York Times bestseller list. It has attracted 286 reader reviews so far at Amazon.

Bottom line: this is a prototypical Michael Crichton novel, including a provocative scientific context, well-researched techno-babble, somewhat two-dimensional characters, and page-turning plot twists. At 600 pages, it's too long, but that's now fashionable among best-selling authors who can no longer be edited (think Stephen King and Tom Clancey). State of Fear is entertaining and may very well open the eyes of the general public to the notion that human-enduced global warming isn't an established fact. How often does the public hear a statement like this one from British journalist Melanie Phillips?

Global warming is an enormous scam, the greatest scentific scandal of the latter part of the 20th century.

You won't learn that reading the mainstream media or watching Hollywood's typical products. So try a novel, or a blog.

It will be interesting to see if Hollywood actually makes State of Fear into a movie, and, if so, then to see how they try to palliate its vastly politically-incorrect message.

Related:
Michael Crichton Official Site
The Sunday Times (UK) - Interview
HarperCollins Publishers - chapter excerpt

Posted by Alan at January 16, 2005 08:56 AM