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New York Times bestselling author Michael Crichton delivers another action-packed techo-thriller in State of Fear.
When a group of eco-terrorists engage in a global conspiracy to generate weather-related natural disasters, its up to environmental lawyer Peter Evans and his team to uncover the subterfuge.
From Tokyo to Los Angeles, from Antarctica to the Solomon Islands, Michael Crichton mixes cutting edge science and action-packed adventure, leading readers on an edge-of-your-seat ride while offering up a thought-provoking commentary on the issue of global warming. A deftly-crafted novel, in true Crichton style, State of Fear is an exciting, stunning tale that not only entertains and educates, but will make you think.
Amazon.com Exclusive Content
A Michael Crichton Timeline
Amazon.com reveals a few facts about the "father of the techno-thriller."
1942: John Michael Crichton is born in Chicago, Illinois on Oct. 23.
1960: Crichton graduates from Roslyn High School on Long Island, New York, with high marks and a reputation as a star basketball player. He decides to attend Harvard University to study English. During his studies, he rankles under his writing professors' criticism. As an act of rebellion, Crichton submits an essay by George Orwell as his own. The professor doesnt catch the plagiarism and gives Orwell a B-. This experience convinces Crichton to change his field of study to anthropology.
1964: Crichton graduates summa cum laude from Harvard University in anthropology. After studying further as a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University and receiving the Henry Russell Shaw Travelling Fellowship, which allowed him to travel in Europe and North Africa, Crichton begins coursework at the Harvard School of Medicine. To help fund his medical endeavors, he writes spy thrillers under several pen names. One of these works, A Case of Need, wins the 1968 Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award.
1969: Crichton graduates from Harvard Medical school and is accepted as a post-doctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Science in La Jolla, Calif. However, his career in medicine is waylaid by the publication of the first novel under his own name, The Andromeda Strain. The novel, about an apocalyptic plague, climbs high on bestseller lists and is later made into a popular film. Crichton said of his decision to pursue writing full time: "To quit medicine to become a writer struck most people like quitting the Supreme Court to become a bail bondsman."
1972: Crichton's second novel under his own name The Terminal Man, is published. Also, two of Crichton's previous works under his pen names, Dealing and A Case of Need are made into movies. After watching the filming, Crichton decides to try his hand at directing. He will eventually direct seven films including the 1973 science-fiction hit Westworld, which was the first film ever to use computer-generated effects.
1980: Crichton draws on his anthropology background and fascination with new technology to create Congo, a best-selling novel about a search for industrial diamonds and a new race of gorillas. The novel, patterned after the adventure writings of H. Ryder Haggard, updates the genre with the inclusion of high-tech gadgets that, although may seem quaint 20 years later, serve to set Crichton's work apart and he begins to cement his reputation as "the father of the techno-thriller."
1990: After the 1980s, which saw the publication of the underwater adventure Sphere (1987) and an invitation to become a visiting writer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1988), Crichton begins the new decade with a bang via the publication of his most popular novel, Jurassic Park. The book is a powerful example of Crichton's use of science and technology as the bedrock for his work. Heady discussion of genetic engineering, chaos theory, and paleontology run throughout the tightly-wound thriller that strands a crew of scientists on an island populated by cloned dinosaurs run amok. The novel inspires the 1993 Steven Spielberg film, and together book and film will re-ignite the worlds fascination with dinosaurs.
1995: Crichton resurrects an idea from his medical school days to create the Emmy-Award Winning television series ER. In this year, ER won eight Emmys and Crichton received an award from the Producers Guild of America in the category of outstanding multi-episodic series. Set in an insanely busy an often dangerous Chicago emergency room, the fast-paced drama is defined by Crichton's now trademark use of technical expertise and insider jargon. The year also saw the publication of The Lost World returning readers to the dinosaur-infested island.
2000: In recognition for Crichton's contribution in popularizing paleontology, a dinosaur discovered in southern China is named after him. "Crichton's ankylosaur" is a small, armored plant-eating dinosaur that dates to the early Jurassic Period, about 180 million years ago. "For a person like me, this is much better than an Academy Award," Crichton said of the honor.
2004: Crichtons newest thriller State of Fear is published.
Amazon.com's Significant Seven
Michael Crichton kindly agreed to take the life quiz we like to give to all our authors: the Amazon.com Significant Seven.
Q: What book has had the most significant impact on your life?
A: Prisoners of Childhood by Alice Miller
Q: You are stranded on a desert island with only one book, one CD, and one DVD--what are they?
A: Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Witter Bynner version)
Symphony #2 in D Major by Johannes Brahms (Georg Solti)
Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa
Q: What is the worst lie you've ever told?
A: Surely you're joking.
Q: Describe the perfect writing environment.
A: Small room. Shades down. No daylight. No disturbances. Macintosh with a big screen. Plenty of coffee. Quiet.
Q: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?
A: I don't want an epitaph. If forced, I would say "Why Are You Here? Go Live Your Life."
Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?
A: Benjamin Franklin
Q: If you could have one superpower what would it be?
- ASIN : B000FC2NQW
- Publisher : HarperCollins e-books; Illustrated edition (October 13, 2009)
- Publication date : October 13, 2009
- Language : English
- File size : 3102 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 624 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #68,055 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Reading State of Fear, I found myself confounded by the point of view that began to dominate, that of skepticism regarding the global warming and environmental points of view that I had always more or less taken for granted. Surely Michael Crichton is not suggesting that Global Warming is not a Real Threat?? Can it be??
Well, it's not quite that simple, but first let me comment to the book itself. It's a good read, beginning seemingly as a 'good guy' vs 'bad guy' story with the corporate interests playing the expected role as 'bad guys', but early on there are questions raised about whether or not the bad guys are in fact the corporate interests, or if they are in fact the environmental interests, or are they both equally 'bad'. And then along the way, in the discussions that take place between the characters as they discuss the environmental movement and whether or not it is solidly based on real science and actual data, there is a good amount of real data included, for example charts of the warming trends of cities throughout the world, that do not present the expected evidence of a general warming trend. Is this real data, or something fabricated to support the story? The truth is not fully clear until the book is completed and the afterward is read (Crichton calls it his 'Author's Message' and in two or three pages he lays out very clearly his point of view with respect to the environmental movement and global warming, and it is quite interesting to read).
He also substantiates the data provided throughout the book, and the conclusions he presents in his 'Author's Message', as well as the astonishingly thorough and diverse listing of references that are provided, are such that I have to feel that there is something serious here that merits thoughtful reflection.
If nothing else, it is that afterword, written by Crichton to give his own point of view, that is worth reading. I am appending it here to my review, confident that I am not violating any copyright restrictions since Crichton's own website also offers it for anyone to read.
This is a book that is both entertaining, and as well it is unexpected and thought provoking.
I am still not sure what to make of it.
Michael Crichton's 'Author's Message' from the book State of Fear:
A novel such as State of Fear, in which so many divergent views are expressed, may lead the reader to wonder where, exactly, the author stands on these issues. I have been reading environmental texts for three years, in itself a hazardous undertaking. But I have had an opportunity to look at a lot of data, and to consider many points of view. I conclude:
- We know astonishingly little about every aspect of the environment, from its past history, to its present state, to how to conserve and protect it. In every debate, all sides overstate the extent of existing knowledge and its degree of certainty.
- Atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing, and human activity is the probable cause.
- We are also in the midst of a natural warming trend that began about 1850, as we emerged from a four-hundred-year cold spell known as the "Little Ice Age."
- Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be a natural phenomenon.
- Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be man-made.
- Nobody knows how much warming will occur in the next century. The computer models vary by 400 percent, de facto proof that nobody knows. But if I had to guess-- the only thing anyone is doing, really-- I would guess the increase will be 0.812436 degrees C. There is no evidence that my guess about the state of the world one hundred years from now is any better or worse than anyone else's. (We can't "assess" the future, nor can we "predict" it. These are euphemisms. We can only guess. An informed guess is just a guess.)
- I suspect that part of the observed surface warming will ultimately be attributable to human activity. I suspect that the principal human effect will come from land use, and that the atmospheric component will be minor.
- Before making expensive policy decisions on the basis of climate models, I think it is reasonable to require that those models predict future temperatures accurately for a period of ten years. Twenty would be better.
- I think for anyone to believe in impending resource scarcity, after two hundred years of such false alarms, is kind of weird. I don't know whether such a belief today is best ascribed to ignorance of history, sclerotic dogmatism, unhealthy love of Malthus, or simple pigheadedness, but it is evidently a hardy perennial in human calculation.
- There are many reasons to shift away from fossil fuels, and we will do so in the next century without legislation, financial incentives, carbon-conservation programs, or the interminable yammering of fearmongers. So far as I know, nobody had to ban horse transport in the early twentieth century.
- I suspect the people of 2100 will be much richer than we are, consume more energy, have a smaller global population, and enjoy more wilderness than we have today. I don't think we have to worry about them.
- The current near-hysterical preoccupation with safety is at best a waste of resources and a crimp on the human spirit, and at worst an invitation to totalitarianism. Public education is desperately needed.
- I conclude that most environmental "principles" (such as sustainable development or the precautionary principle) have the effect of preserving the economic advantages of the West and thus constitute modern imperialism toward the developing world. It is a nice way of saying, "We got ours and we don't want you to get yours, because you'll cause too much pollution."
- The "precautionary principle," properly applied, forbids the precautionary principle. It is self-contradictory. The precautionary principle therefore cannot be spoken of in terms that are too harsh.
- I believe people are well intentioned. But I have great respect for the corrosive influence of bias, systematic distortions of thought, the power of rationalization, the guises of self-interest, and the inevitability of unintended consequences.
- I have more respect for people who change their views after acquiring new information than for those who cling to views they held thirty years ago. The world changes. Ideologues and zealots don't.
- In the thirty-five-odd years since the environmental movement came into existence, science has undergone a major revolution. This revolution has brought new understanding of nonlinear dynamics, complex systems, chaos theory, catastrophe theory. It has transformed the way we think about evolution and ecology. Yet these no-longer-new ideas have hardly penetrated the thinking of environmental activists, which seems oddly fixed in the concepts and rhetoric of the 1970s.
- We haven't the foggiest notion how to preserve what we term "wilderness," and we had better study it in the field and learn how to do so. I see no evidence that we are conducting such research in a humble, rational, and systematic way. I therefore hold little hope for wilderness management in the twenty-first century. I blame environmental organizations every bit as much as developers and strip miners. There is no difference in outcomes between greed and incompetence.
- We need a new environmental movement, with new goals and new organizations. We need more people working in the field, in the actual environment, and fewer people behind computer screens. We need more scientists and many fewer lawyers.
- We cannot hope to manage a complex system such as the environment through litigation. We can only change its state temporarily-- usually by preventing something-- with eventual results that we cannot predict and ultimately cannot control.
- Nothing is more inherently political than our shared physical environment, and nothing is more ill served by allegiance to a single political party. Precisely because the environment is shared it cannot be managed by one faction according to its own economic or aesthetic preferences. Sooner or later, the opposing faction will take power, and previous policies will be reversed. Stable management of the environment requires recognition that all preferences have their place: snowmobilers and fly fishermen, dirt bikers and hikers, developers and preservationists. These preferences are at odds, and their incompatibility cannot be avoided. But resolving incompatible goals is a true function of politics.
- We desperately need a nonpartisan, blinded funding mechanism to conduct research to determine appropriate policy. Scientists are only too aware whom they are working for. Those who fund research-- whether a drug company, a government agency, or an environmental organization-- always have a particular outcome in mind. Research funding is almost never open-ended or open-minded. Scientists know that continued funding depends on delivering the results the funders desire. As a result, environmental organization "studies" are every bit as biased and suspect as industry "studies." Government "studies" are similarly biased according to who is running the department or administration at the time. No faction should be given a free pass.
- I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.
- I personally experience a profound pleasure being in nature. My happiest days each year are those I spend in wilderness. I wish natural environments to be preserved for future generations. I am not satisfied they will be preserved in sufficient quantities, or with sufficient skill. I conclude that the "exploiters of the environment" include environmental organizations, government organizations, and big business. All have equally dismal track records.
- Everybody has an agenda. Except me.
The message of the novel is a completely different thing. Polemical as you can conclude from the book reviews. MC wants us to be aware of the exaggerations the media, the environmentalists, and now the politicians, are making of Global Warning. MC is challenging the predictions of a theory based almost entirely on simulation models of a complex system (explained with chaos theory), with the first estimates made in the 90's already showing predictions completely off the charts. We are incapable of forecasting the weather one year from today, but we are ready to accept estimates with a precision of one decimal, regarding the future temperatures in the Amazon Basin and elsewhere 20 years from now?. Are we that gullible? Or is this just a noble cause that we have to support, no questions asked?
Remember that popular wisdom is not always right, as MC clearly illustrates in Appendix I, "Why politicized Science is Dangerous" regarding the theory of eugenics. Also, as the late Carl Sagan used to say, and Richard Dawkins is now remembering to us: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And don't forget that "anecdotal evidence is not proof". As contrary to law, in science the burden of proof is always on the side of those making the new claim or theory. Hence, from a strictly scientific skeptical point of view, Michael Crichton criticism or doubts are absolutely valid, whether we don't like it is a different matter.
It is understandable that highway safety, anti-smoking and other pro-health related media campaigns are exaggerated or overstated, even by MDs, just for the sake of changing a dangerous behavior within a population. The same concept is absolutely valid regarding the protection of the environment, avoiding pollution, but as MC asserts regarding specifically for Global Warming, all the fuss is based on simulation of a phenomena we still don't fully understand, without enough solid scientific evidence, with anecdotal evidence, and even with conveniently biased sets of data. MC also made a warning about the dangers and consequences of taking action when lots of uncertainty still exists, and when clearly Western society does not even know how to do wilderness management properly, or our poor ability to predict the weather in the short and long term. The mean temperature in the Antarctica continent has in fact been declining for the last two decades (check by yourselves through an internet search), but the media is only concerned about one piece that went afloat, and when actual data contradicts the Global Warming theory, some scientists simply claim those statistics are incomplete, but not theirs?.
Based on the amount of technical and scientific information presented in the novel (even with references to web sites, footnote references and a full bibliography, that gives you a chance to check the facts by yourself), obviously based on a throughout research on the subject, I guess a non-fiction book (Carl Sagan style) would have been a better medium to deliver his message, rather than through this weak fiction novel. I really would like Crichton to write a book on this polemical subject, no fiction in it, analyzing both sides of the issue (Bush and Al Gore included), rigorously, the way Richard Dawkins bravely writes his books.
Many people didn't like Crichton's critical or skeptical position on Global Warming, especially the environmental groups and the scientists who did the research to support the theory, and they just dismiss him as crazy, or working for big industry interests, or manipulating research results, or simply asserting the whole thing inside the book is just fiction, summarized by the now famous quotation: "Going to "State of Fear" for any facts on global warming is like going to "The Da Vinci Code" for facts on the life of Jesus". But please, just be a little skeptical for a few minutes, and make your own judgment by checking on the rebuttals available in the internet. Wikipedia is a good starting point, just type "State of Fear". A couple of good examples presenting serious rebuttals are found at the sites of Real Climate and the Pew Center on Climate Change. Check also supporting views for Crichton criticism. Watch Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth". Read carefully, balancing the different points of view, and make your own conclusions. And remember, the burden of proof is on those making the extraordinary claim, that's how the scientific method works.
And finally, for those so blinded because of his criticism to global warming, please cool off and read carefully the "Author's Message" at the end of the book, where he makes explicit his position, guesses and thoughts on this issue. Michael Crichton is not against the environment, he is not Pro-Bush, he is just against the waste of resources based on a theory lacking enough hard scientific proof, especially when so many respectable scientists and intellectuals are on board this near-hysterical cause, and a few people is taking personal advantage of all the frenzy.
PS: as suggested by a fellow Amazonian, The Future of Everything: The Science of Prediction (Apollo's Arrow in the Canadian version) by David Orrell is an objective critical analysis of modeling for future predictions in the fields of climate, health and economics. If your are genuinely interested in the limitations and uncertainties of the science behind Global Warming, this book is a must-read. For less biased and common sense criticism I also recommend reading The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud**And those who are too fearful to do so and An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming
Top reviews from other countries
The book goes a bit bonkers at the end, but is still a good read.
However, the plot is a little predictable, a bit like a lot of films coming out of Hollywood.
As a woman, I found all the relationships with women very boring, one-dimensional. Clearly he only has room for athletic built women, so creates a plot with 3 of those types, hardly real life or believable, and makes it repetative. Better as a video game maybe?