Michael Crichton is hardly the first to note that the press, environmentalists, the Left and politicized science have combined to make modern humans--who live in unprecedented comfort and safety--absurdly fearful, but he's certainly the first to turn that argument into a best-selling novel. The thriller that overlays what is essentially a political/philosophcal polemic is a bit mechanical and formulaic, but it serves well enough to propel the reader through a set of facts and figures -- complete with charts, graphs, and footnotes -- that they might not otherwise ever encounter nevermind be forced to come to terms with.
One of the arguments that Mr. Crichton makes perhaps goes further than he intended and makes the novel entirely worthwhile, especially in light of how we can see its truth playing out in the reaction to the book. Having shredded much of the specific "evidence" for man-made global warming and the supposed dire effects of same, he moves on to the broader point that:
Every scientist has some idea of how his experiment is going to turn out. Otherwise he wouldn't do the experiment in the first place. He has an expectation. But expectation works in mysterious ways--and totally unconsciously.
Here too he cites studies to prove his point. And consider how deeply that point undermines the entire claim of sciencism. the dream of the Age of Reason and the central claim of those who place their faith in science is that they represent forms of knowledge that can be arrived at dispassionately, rendering truths that are untainted by human emotions, superstitions, religious influences and the like. That we arrive instead at the recognition that science too is just a product of the prejudices of scientists is quite devastating.
What makes this all so delicious though is that the reviews of the book then precisely followed the pattern this thesis would have predicted. Conservative publications, generally pro-business, welcomed it as at least a breath of fresh air if not a profound addition to the literary canon, while liberal reviewers denounced it as dangerous demagougery. The writing, plot and all the rest of the book were entirely superfluous, these experimenters picked it up already knowing what they expected to find and unsurprisingly they all found exactly that. You and I too find here confirmation of our own beliefs, one way or another.
I really loved Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain and Prey, so I thought I'd love this. Wow, was I wrong. This book was terrible!! First off, it was just plain boring. Crichton seems to be writing an editorial against global warming rather than a novel. I don't want to read page after page of his opinions on science, I want to read a story. Plus the characters were cardboard cutouts of people and weren't interesting. They were just stock characters, stereotypes with no depth at all and weren't even likable. The book was just plain awful. I couldn't get through it. This was one of the most disappointing books I have ever attempted to read. I hated this so much, I may never pick up a Crichton book again. I want my money back!