April 30, 2008

State of Fear, by Michael Crichton

I already totally didn't believe in global warming, because I was following the scientific debate, and the case for it was so lost by 2007 that the IPCC didn't even bother to try to hide that their report summaries are written by UN bureaucrats and approved by UN diplomats without any scientific input or review, like they tried to hide it back in '95. In other words, as of 2008, only the sort of morons who don't know that politicians lie, and don't know or don't care that all their speeches and books have been ghostwritten since at least JFK, still believe in global warming. So it was kind of late to read this book, and the opinions in the book were not really daring or fresh. Maybe they would have been if it had been written in '99, just after the record hot weather year of '98 that made alarmist predictions of global warming catastrophe a popular topic.

It was fun to laugh at the characters who didn't know that global warming was all a crock yet, as they took time to be clued in. The graphs make that a richer experience, as you can think back to looking over some of the same graphs yourself for the first time, and be reminded of your own learning experience. That isn't as boring as it sounds, because it's given a pique by being put in the setting of a violent action novel.

The part with cannibals was over the top and at a similar point in the story structure as the use of cannibals in Forrest Gump. It was also a ham-handed way to express a comeuppance wish on people who have naive views, in the author's opinion, about primitives or savages and nature.

The portrayal of terrorism and terrorist groups and their motives is cartoonish, standard action novel/movie fare, which is surprising given that the book was presumably written after 2001, which should have caused some thought. It's an area where you have to do your own thinking, taking the novel as an example of what people imagine, without any helpful commentary from within the novel. People imagine terrorists and secret agents killing each other with abandon, each believing they're doing what is necessary for ultimate good purposes, saving lives really. That imagination seems so far from reality. I wonder if there are people who believe that as their reality and go around killing on sight whoever is their enemy or target, according to the plot as they see it, and aren't just suffering from paranoid delusions.