Review: State of Fear

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Misinformation & Propaganda, Power (Pathologies & Utilization)

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Fiction in the Public Service,

December 4, 2006
Michael Crichton
Edit of 27 Jan 07: I’ve just watched the author on C-SPAN Book Channel, and am very impressed by his focus on demanding that all scientists reveal their data or be cut off from public funding. I realize some have voted against this review because they misunderstand the author as saying that environmental skeptics are correct. That is not the case. He is in fact calling for complete transparency and open exchanges of information, and I find that quite compelling.

This is one of the few fiction books that I read and review, but I certainly endorse it and value it as a very fine means of educating the public with respect to both the absence of good reliable hard science on the entire issue of the environment, and as a primer on what can be done by man to either destroy the planent by staging events that leverage the underlying vulnerability, or to do constructive research and global remediation.

Many of the reviewers have reacted viscerally to this book, or not read it all the way through to include the author’s superb non-fiction series of statements about the environment and the science or non-science of the environment, and the author’s final statement on why the politicization of science is bad. I recommend the books (and/or my reviews) of the books on the Republican War on Sciencee and on Climate Change.

The author is to be commended for integrating truthful real-world footnotes with the fictional text. This is a book that is educational and meritorious. It could and should be both a movie and a serious game for change. While the author suggests that much of the fear-mongering about the environment is just that, he does help us understand that making the case for remediation and conservation now must be based on the most rigorous study possible.

I would be quite pleased if the author chose to create a series keyed to the ten threats identified by the United Nations High-Level Threat Panel. Apart from Environmental Degradation (threat #3), the others are Poverty, Infectuous Disease, Inter-State Conflict, Civil War, Genocide, Other Atrocities, Proliferation, Terrorism, and Transnational Crime.

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Review: Timeline (Fiction)

3 Star, Cosmos & Destiny

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3.0 out of 5 stars Great Idea Formula Fails On This One,

December 1, 2002
Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton and Robin Cooke are my two favorite entertainers, so this is a fan being straight up. This one failed. The idea of writing about the technologies involved in teleportation (which is indeed a credible possibility, one Charles Platt did a great job discussing in a past issue of WIRED Magazine) is a good one, but then the author spent three-quarters of the book with “filler” material about people actually stuck back in time and wandering hither and yon. Airframe and Prey, both of which spend most of the time focusing on the minutia of the technology, are much superior.
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Review: Airframe (Fiction)

5 Star, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Complexity & Catastrophe, Corruption, Culture, Research

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5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing–Deep Insights Into Airline Safety,

October 10, 2002
Michael Crichton
If you are a frequent flyer, or afraid of flying, this is a riveting book that will easily cause several hours to pass and will have the added benefit of making you feel much safer as you fly.The author has done a really outstanding job of first understanding and then explaining to a lay person the enormous complexity and rigorous attention to detail that go into building and testing commercial aircraft, and investigating mishaps when they occur.

The minor plot elements aside (the usual cast of media mediocrities, intra-office back-stabbers, etc.), this book makes aircraft safety *exciting.* I was completely absorbed in what this author has put together, and highly recommend this book as an intelligent thriller with a practical foundation.

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