Col. Mark Harrison founds an elite force of five highly talented individuals to undertake dangerous rescue missions and emergency aid to those trapped by conflict or natural disaster.
A coach full of tourists hangs over the edge of a cliff in Crete. The world watches the rescue mission on TV. Four strangers with highly developed combat / espionage skills fly by stealth helicopter to the atoll of Tintara, somewhere in the Pacific. Col. Harrison has been appointed by various secret global pan-governmental organisations to set up E-Force (E for emergency). He has access to technology beyond that available to any Government and seemingly limitless funds. As he and his four guests watch the coach rescue mission fail spectacularly, he explains his plan to form an elite unit to save lives in such circumstances. One of the guests is not interested in Harrison's plans, and will be replaced by Tom Erickson, the world's most famous hacker, currently in prison in New York.
The team of five has three men and one woman: one is black, one asian and one in wheelchair; there is a chripy Brit and a stroppy Australian. They undertake weeks of training on Tintara and have various pieces of nano-technology inserted into their nervous systems.
Meanwhile, on yachts, in palaces and on private jets, the `Four Horsemen' are shaping up for their role as the arch-enemies of E-force.
STATE OF EMERGENCY is not a very good book. At first glance, it has all the hallmarks of a good techno-thriller, but it fails in almost everything that is required from this kind of book. All of the characters are rather bland and unmemorable. The hard-boiled dialogue which is often at the heart of these books is completely absent, as is any trace of humour, irony or camp. There are no `great lines' in the book at all. There is no character development. None of the characters ever becomes `real'. The action sequences - while there is plenty of action - are cumbersome and lumbering and the plot moves quite slowly. There is no tension or sense of time running out, despite the clumsy and clichéd introduction of a ticking clock on a bomb as the story runs out of steam. Fisher's military technology is neither an accurate portrayal of the state-of the-art nor is it a far-fetched futuristic fantasy, and will satisfy no-one. There are far too many minor characters who add nothing to the dramatic thrust.
What Fisher has actual written here is a novelisation of a movie that no one is ever going to make. Novelisations are generally pretty awful books, cobbled together on the back of a successful movie. This is an absurd attempt which puts the cart firmly before the horse: movies are very rarely cobbled together on the back of pretty awful books. STATE OF EMERGENCY should be a screenplay and possibly started out as such. The rescue mission may work on screen but it certainly doesn't on the page. As a movie, the dialog would require a total re-write.
Comparisons with the Thunderbirds, Fanatastic Four or X-men are pretty insulting the originals. STATE OF EMERGENCY is just a Xerox of the Thunderbirds with all the good bits taken out and the characters are more lifeless than any puppets I have come across. In the final analysis, despite it's many faults, STATE OF EMERGENCY fails simply because it is boring.