A Ripping Yarn

10:51 AM Apr 15, 2005by Rob Ritchie

I just finished State Of Fear, the latest novel by Michael Crichton.

It's a pretty good adventure story, and the ending had enough punch to give me a little frission of horror, though there are some things in this book that had me laughing out loud (and not in the good way).

But while entertainment is certainly a good reason to read this book, Crighton has another purpose for writing it: the dispellation of myths and foolishness about Global Warming.

(*spoiler alert*)

The bad guys in this book are a radical environmental group trying to raise money keeping everyone in a "state of fear" and to this end they perform all sorts of callous acts. However, their "environmentally themed" plots reminded me of some sort of loony Batman villian.

Robin: Holy Fishmart, Batman! We have a string of seemingly unrelated murders!

Batman: Not so fast, old chum. The frostbite, the lightning strikes and the poisonous bites of aquatic cephalopods all have one thing in common: they exist in Nature.

Robin: Great Scott, Batman! You mean...

Batman: Yes, Robin! The EARTH is behind these murders.

If you believe, as Crighton does, that the so-called Environmental Movement is more concerned with fund-raising than with conciousness raising (or actually solving environmental problems) then you will enjoy this book, because it blasts apart the claptrap hoax that is "global warming."

There is an annoying character named Kenner, who knows everything about everything, who debates with fools of every stripe and spot, always with references at his fingertips (conviently provided by Crighton in footnotes). I call him annoying because he really is quite a know-it-all, but his logical, reality-based arguments are no match for the smugness of actors and activists, who respond to his citing of research and facts by calling him a right-wing stooge for industry, a fascist and a racist.

As an adventure story, it relies on the time-tested (time-worn?) conceit of placing our heroes in deadly dangers from which they cannot escape at the end of the chapter, then rescuing them quite easily at the beginning of the next.

There is also the earnest young man who believes strongly in Global Warming, but through his open-mindedness to Kenner's arguments (and encounters with deadly NERF killers weilding the aforementioned killer cephalopods) comes to see the Light.

The story didn't surprise me very much, and it probably won't surprise you. The characters are engaging for the most part, the villians villianous, and the useful California dupes shown to be the hypocrites and idiots we all suspect they really are.

The best feature of the book, however, are the detailed arguments against Global Warming that are presented, along with citations and a lengthy bibliography. It should be noted that, in addition to such evidence against global warming is an examination of the evidence in favor of it, and an alternative explanation (Land Usage) to explain noted rises in average temperatures in certain areas of the world.

This is popcorn reading, but don't expect Hollywood to turn this Crighton thriller into a movie the way they have with so many of his other books. He lampoons too many of the religious beliefs of the environmentally concerned, something that will certainly offend the self-satisfied of Tinseltown.