State of Fear by Michael Crichton

  • Narrator: George Wilson – Good, but a bit slow
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Suspense
  • Writing: OK
  • Story: Poor
  • Time: 18 hours 7 minutes

The concept of this book, as detailed in its synopsis, was intriguing – that governments fundamentally control their citizens with fear.  Fear makes people look to their governments for safety and comfort and this is what gives a government its ultimate power.  The story is allegedly about the fact that the Cold War was a perfect basis for forming this dependency and level of control.  The implicit fear created by the concept of nuclear buildup and global destruction caused people to abdicate many of their natural freedoms to rules imposed by governments.  The problem, of course, is that the Cold War ended.  The story is about how old fears were replaced by new ones having to do mostly with health, global warming, rapid climate change, etc.

It sounded like a neat basis for a story to me.  Unfortunately, only about 20 minutes of this 18+ hour audio book covered this topic.  The rest of it was a preachy, long-winded story that was used as a boring platform for the author to broadcast his view of the sorry state of knowledge, research and the science of global warming, climate change and the management of natural habitat.  As it turns out, I actually agree with his beliefs – that we don’t know squat about this stuff and even blaming “greenhouse” emissions for massive changes in the planet is patently absurd – but that doesn’t mean that I wanted them hammered into my brain repeatedly over an 18 hour period (yes, it’s difficult for me to stop listening or reading, even when it’s this bad).

In its most basic form, the book is more like a screenplay than a novel.  This is to be somewhat expected from Michael Crichton, of course.  The story includes several “actors” that are complete stooges.  Sorta like the actor in a B horror movie that doesn’t see the obvious danger in going into the crypt at night when the audience can plainly see he’s gonna die in there.  The stooges are not only ignorant, but they’re unbelievably stupid too.  It takes them ages to get the points made by the hero in the story.  Some of them never get it.  Crichton puts them into situations that make no sense at all to demonstrate how difficult they are to convince, making the whole story a farce.  Of course, I understand the technique that Crichton is using here, he just gets too caught up in it, in my opinion.

I like Michael Crichton’s stories, in general.  Airframe was a particular favorite.  It’s too bad he chose to use this book as his pulpit for a topic not even representative of its title.  My only recommendation here is to stay away from it.

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