When a friend handed me State of Fear by Michael Crichton I did not know what to expect. At 798 pages, the size of the book is daunting. I had never read such a big book in my life. Nor had I ever read a book by Michael Crichton though I knew he had written such NY Times best-sellers as The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park.

It is apparent in the first chapter that Crichton knows a lot about science – the science behind  tsunamis, for one thing.  A seduction and murder in the first chapter draw one into this amazing web of intrigue, mystery, and action.  A forenote to the book states:

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, corporations, institutions and organizations in this novel are the product of the author’s imagination, or, if real, are used fictitiously without any intent to describe their actual conduction.  However, references to real people, institutions, and organizations that are documented in the footnotes are accurate.  Footnotes are real.

Because the book is so heavily laced with footnotes, as one reads this page-turner  one need not wonder if the “facts” that are sprinkled throughout are actually facts.   The sites range from Antarctica where the charactors fall into a crevasse, to the jungle, where they run into cannibals.   If you’re looking for action, here’s your book.   If you enjoy strange and interesting scientific tid-bits, here’s your book again.  If you’ve never read a book in which an octopus was a lethal weapon, come along!

Along the way I began to realize Crichton had a problem with global warming and on googling him learned that he is the “most famous global warming denier.”   Obligingly, at the end, he presents “the author’s message” for those who wonder where he stands on the issues addressed after all his research.   He tells  how much he enjoys being in nature.  “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 records.”

Crichton obtained an M.D. from Harvard in 1969.   His  biography on Wikipedia is fascinating.  He was a brilliant man, who enjoyed both  story-telling and technology, immensely successful as a writer whose books have been made into immensely successful films.  He died in 2008 of cancer, leaving some unfinished novels.

I enjoyed very much meeting Crichton (below)  and am glad he was so prolific while he lived.  In this video clip  Crichton explains why he did not want to write State of Fear, and why he did it anyway.