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3.3 out of 5 stars
State of Fear
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2006
As ever Michael Crichton has a fascinating topic for his readers and provides us with masses of information on whether or not Global Warming is an actual phenomenon or merely a trend.

However for me, I felt like MC was lecturing. He evidently regards Global Warming as a trend and was using a poor plot to serve up a lecture on what he perceives as an unlikely environmental problem. The book was basically a critique of current environmental thinking on global warming interspersed with a terrorist plot. He also appears to be a little lacking in ideas. The climax of the book concerns an environmental terrorist group's attempts at starting an underwater landslide in order to create a tsunami on the west coast of the United States. What does a tsunami have to do with global warming and environmental concerns? It would be a natural occurrence and certainly not a result of any global warming. Please Michael, have a little more respect for your readers.

I also feel that MC is starting to believe his own hype. In the 'Author's Message' at the end of the book, he states that in his opinion the global population will be lower in 2100 than the present day and we have nothing to worry about. Does he really believe that a 50% fall in the global population from 2050 (9 billion people) to 6 billion in 2100 is not a matter for concern or is he hopelessly out of date on demographic trends?

All in all I was disappointed in this book. If Michael Crichton wants to get on his soap box and talk about global issues and he has a specific agenda, it would be better if it wasn't camouflaged in a novel. However I did enjoy following up on the considerable number of references he provided on global environmental issues.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2007
Crichton charges into the chaotic Global Warming (GW) fray, waving banners for careful, unbiased analyses. It takes a cultural icon to champion a culturally unpopular position and survive. We are lucky that Crichton has the stature and the wisdom to do so.

I don't think he successfully manages to weave the GW science with the rollercoaster plot. There is the story -- best illustrated by the protagonist who went thru more perils than Pauline in a two-week period. And there are the science lectures -- with diagrams and footnotes. Still I can say they are individually successful, and I went thru this novel faster than my usual clunk-clunky way. And my brain had to stay active thru out, so it isn't just a thrill ride.

I'm not completely won over my his thesis about the deliberate utilization of fear by political forces -- in this instance, fanning the flames of GW alarmism -- but it's worth pondering. And maybe the debates between his heroes and the other side could have been less obdurate. But I agree with his portrayal of the GW alarmists as political and prejudiced.

With the emerging theories on the effect of solar activity, the bit by bit trashing of the evidence for a CO2 influence, this is a ongoing debate. And one that requires that both sides consider the effects of their position -- GW alarmists tend to think that their recommendations have no negative effects (see COOL IT: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming by Bjørn Lomborg for an economist's assessment).

Sikkim Mykill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2015
This is a poor effort given it was Crichton’s swan song. The narrative revolves around a bunch of eco-terrorists who are planning man-made weather incidents so as to scare the populace into accepting the reality of global warming. So goes the plot. However it isn’t aided by reams of exposition, wafer thin characterisation and a multitude of dramatic scenarios that makes Raiders of the Lost Ark look like a trip to the shops. There are sections where my inner voice was screaming “seriously??!!??”

It’s not helped by the fact that the plot is little more than a device to sell (well the book isn’t for free is it?) Crichton’s strongly anti -global warming agenda, even if he quotes at the end, tongue stapled to cheek “everyone has an agenda ....except me”. The last decade has not been kind to his overly selective use of stats and scenarios. Particularly his straw man argument in comparing how eugenics was once embraced as avidly as climate change is now.

So, poor plotting, no characterisation, pontification of the author’s agenda, why not one star? Because despite all this, it does make a few good points. Primarily, cast a jaundiced eye and investigate a subject before falling for the latest cause celebre. Celebrities often have no more than a superficial understanding of the cause they are shilling, just look at Chris Morris’s satirical series Brass Eye, where public figures were fooled into supporting charities and causes that were fictitious and absurd. The essential lack of understanding on highly complex systems and environments (Crichton references the mis-management of Yellowstone Park for the last century), and the fact that many charities are at the end of the day, it’s primarily about the money. The expositionary chapter on how new fears had to be found to provide social control after the fall of communism is very interesting. For this rattling of the cage, it gets 2 stars.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2008
Crichton makes some interesting points on Global warming, regardless of whether you believe he has cherry picked his data to prove his point. As others have pointed out, the large quantities of data in the book don't mesh too well with the actual story. There is definitely the feeling that you have a normal thriller and a thesis on global warming and they kind of got mixed in the wash. Crichton tries to blend the two, but the result is not perfect.

Spoiler
My real quibble with the book is; why are a large international bunch of well funded, armed and dangerous terrorists being taken on by a small group of mostly unarmed lawyers and later an actor? For the first threat, this sort of works, but as each situation gets bigger and more dangerous, the response looks smaller and more amateur in comparison. They are locating threats by satellite, observing from helicopters, then instead of calling in the Marines, SWAT teams, FBI or an air strike, they go in alone and mostly unarmed. This is just stupid.
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on 17 May 2009
I loved this book as I do most of Michael Crichton work. I'll keep the review short as I do not wish to discuss the science that is presented in the book, as I am not qualified enough to do so.

As a story it's as good as anything he was ever written, however there were some issues with the characters. The beginning is however very drawn out and I feel that too many characters are introduced in quick succession; the effect of this is that the reader can become confused by all the different characters and the role they play in the story. This issue quickly resolves itself as the main characters become apparent but they still do not feel like real people somehow, just different stereotypical views about the environment.

This aside I did enjoy the book and found it very hard to put down. Evan though I did not agree with some of the statements Crichton seemed to be making, he almost seemed to be anti-conservation which I strongly disagree with. He did make some good points about the way scientific research is funded and the use of science in politics.

Overall I enjoyed the book and if you have liked any of Crichton's work before I'm sure you'll love this.
RIP Micheal
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
This book reminded me very much of Moby Dick with its heavy emphasis on both an adventure story and sharing detailed information. Those who prefer one aspect or the other will probably find themselves flipping quickly through the pages that emphasize the other aspect.
Popular opinions are almost always wrong. That's the theme of this book. The point is made in the context of describing how global warming, as perceived by the public and media, is different from what scientists are describing. Dr. Crichton argues through his story that we can waste a lot of time and resources on popular delusions, and we need to get our facts right. His appendix I on the dangers of politicized science is something everyone should read. The eugenics example is a chilling one.
The adventure story itself is a Frederick Forsyth/Clive Cussler-type thriller written from the perspective of a young lawyer who tags along with a James Bond-like character who single-handedly saves the day along with his trusty, almost silent, sidekick. They are about as good a source for scintillating conversation as the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Instead of greedy multinationals or rich megalomaniacs being at fault, this story looks at how lawyers and rabid environmentalists can get carried away.
In typical Michael Crichton fashion, the story develops around little-known scientific facts about how humans can influence the environment. So if you wanted to know more about how giant ice bergs, tsunamis and flash floods can be created, this is your book. At the same time, there are nice subplots around how to track terrorists via the Internet and an obscure way to assassinate people.
I found myself drawn to both the adventure story and the global warming information. It's a nice combination for the reader who likes a little substance along with their thrillers. Even I, though, thought the global warming was overdone. The characters needed a lot of work to become interesting, rather than just being devices to drive the plot along. I graded the book down accordingly.
I kept thinking as I read this book that I would like to read a book like this by Dr. Crichton that looks at people manufacturing domestic terrorism for political gain. Perhaps that will be his next subject.
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on 2 January 2007
Michael Crichton has a reputation for writing top notch scientific thrillers - Jurassic Park, Lost World, Airframe anyone? In recent years his books have become rather patchy, and what usually starts out as an interesting (and sometimes flawed) scientific principle ends up becoming a weak thriller with nowhere left to go. Firstly, I have a great deal of respect for Crichton's writing, and the subject matters he chooses to write about. Although he has written a succession of rather dull novels over the last years I continue to read his new books in the hope that he will redeem himself. However I heard that 'Next' wasn't too good either.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Only years after the death of Crichton I finally discovered his great value as a writer and it happened with this book, bought almost casually without knowing exactly what it was about, and that turned out to be very interesting for me, as it is fully in line with my thought.
The topic is that of the so-called theory of anthropogenic global warming, which personally, even as an ecologist, I never believed, that is being analysed while the author tells a great story of action and adventure, and in doing so brings us a lot of scientific information, all confirmed with real references, which can be controlled, as they are then listed in the large bibliography of the volume.
Considering the way in which the author dismantles the theory of global warming and complaints the speculation and sensationalism, which accompany it; I completely understand why this book has never become a movie. It's too much against the trend. It goes against the economic interest of the moment.
Never let it be that people read it and believe it!
Maybe one day, when public opinion will have enough of this fake ecological drama we are witnessing, the opposite theory will appear (maybe they will be telling us that we are moving toward the ice age?) and then maybe this book will come out, which will be properly manipulated.
What the book says instead is that mankind is definitely not able to demonstrate whether our planet is really going towards a global warming (we are not even able to know with certainty what the weather will be like tomorrow!), so much so that every theory from 20 years ago was later denied. Much less mankind is able to prove whether they are able to influence these events (both positively and negatively) and to what extent.
Personally I doubt it, because in reality, as the same Crichton says, we are fragile in the face of nature's power and the only thing we can do is run and hide.
Really being able to influence it is pure presumption.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2013
I had looked forward to reading this as it has been given some good reviews, however my disappointment with it is so high that I had to write this review. The concept was good but the characters are just so unbelievable and incredibly false that the facts, figures and concept just got totally lost. Each and everyone of the main characters has massive character flaws yet we are supposed to believe that together they manage to evade 1. A whole village full of heavily armed flesh eating rebels (albeit some were old woman carrying heavy sticks and iron bars but would you mess with them?)2. A group of heavily armed terrorists who appear to have every weapon available to them.3. An inhospitable jungle that has crocodiles, snakes, leeches and god knows what else. But the wimpy lawyer, the PA, the wealthy philanthropist seem to take on the skills and attributes of SAS or SEAL combatsmen, have amazing powers of recovery (frostbite, poisoning to name but two) and have strengths that even Superman would be proud of and manage to "save the planet" from four potential "weather catastrophies". They were assisted by two, sorry three other characters but where did the Jennifer character come from and what was her reason for being in the book except to kill a couple of rebels and to interview the wimpy lawyer on climate change - what was that all about?
The plots themselves are also incredible (iceberg creation, flashfloods, hurricanes ans tsunami after an earthquake of course) but the author then tries to cover this by filling the all too many pages with graphs, scientific facts and needless dialogue which do not really do too much to enhance the very weak plot.
All in all, this looked a good book but the reality of it proved to be a massive let down and worse of all, there
is no real conclusion or ending to it as we do not find out what happened to NERF, Drake and the rest of the protagonists nnor indeed Jennifer but I guess that was no great loss.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2009
This novel, from the creator of Jurassic Park and ER, tells the story of a struggle against terrorism. It has a swift succession of dramatic scenes across the world and lots of action. It would make a great film - let's hope that it gets made.

The villains are eco-terrorists, who try to create disasters - floods, tsunamis - to publicise their cause. His characters talk a great deal about global warming and its effects. Crichton cites many authorities to back their arguments. These include the International Panel on Climate Change, which admitted in its 2001 report, "In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible."

His characters also point out that there is no obvious common global trend of increasing glacier melt in recent years, that El Ninos cause longer growing seasons and reduce the use of winter heating oil, that the Kyoto agreement would cut world temperature by just 0.02 degrees Celsius by 2050, and that energy sources that can support the present levels of world power consumption, without greenhouse emissions, do not exist.

They note that between 1940 and 1970 the overall global temperature fell, although CO2 levels had risen. Similarly, it has not risen since 2000, although CO2 levels have kept rising. Over the long run, the best data, from the USA, show a rise of just a third of a degree Celsius from 1880 to 2000.

Crichton observes out that in late 1989, at the end of the Cold War, the media hyped up climate change stories - all became `crises' and `catastrophe'. This was part of a ruling class strategy to control us through fear.
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