I just finished reading Michael Crichton's State of Fear.(I'll use SOF for short) This won't be a book review per se, but I'll make a few observations.
Note- I haven't read all of Crichton's work. The previous books of his that I did read are- Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Airframe and Rising Sun. Andromeda is my favorite of the above Crichton books.
SOF reads much like a movie script-
1- Our heroes escape multiple traps laid by the bad guys. I found tiring to be honest. Two of these escapes involved vehicles in the middle of the book and to be honest they got tiresome quickly.
2- There's a minor character that's made out to be such a complete imbecile you know he'll die. The character does just that, like many similar characters in disaster genre movies.
Crichton throws in ample amounts of science, most told in long monologue like dialogue by various characters. These are more interesting for the most part than the action scenes but do get repetitive near the book's close.
Then there is a blunder on page 545(hardcover editions). At first I thought Crichton may have made it deliberate. Characters(Even so called brilliant well educated ones) making mistakes under stress. Except it didn't play out that way in the book.
A tsunami is expected to travel 500 miles per hour in the book. An island is two miles away. On page 545 Crichton writes the tsunami will reach the island in 24 seconds.
I was reading this scene in a doctor's office. Without the need of a calculator I knew the math was wrong. I'll explain it now.
Note- TFM if he has any math skills at all, has always been good at multiplication and percentages. I can do any two digits times another two digit number in my head in a few seconds.
Ok I'm like Rain Man without the memorizing of phone books. LOL you always thought I was an idiot, right?
Something travelling 500 miles per hour will travel 8.3333 miles per minute. One fourth of a minute is 15 seconds. One fourth of 8.333 is 2.0825.
So the wave would have taken approximately 15 seconds not 24 as stated in the book and then played out in a scene afterwards.
The 24 second calculation would be perfect if the tsunami was travelling at 300 MPH rather than 500. Except for the fact that the little research I could find on deep ocean tsunamis puts their speed at 800 KM per hour or approximately 500 miles per hour.
So what happened? Did Crichton make a simple math mistake or a typo? I think it is the former because of how the novel played out after the mistake was made.
Crichton says he spent years researching th book. It shows too, as the book is footnoted throughout.
Note- SOF if you don't know deals with Global Warming. In a note at the book's end Crichton with tongue firmly planted in cheek, says everybody has an agenda but him.
If you read the book, you get the strong impression Crichton doesn't believe in Global Warming. For the characters in the book who believe in that theory are either the villians or the imbecile I mentioned earlier. Or maybe Crichton does believe in Global warming and the book is just a commercial ploy. Only Crichton knows the answer to that.
Back to the error I found. A best selling author and doctor making a simple math mistake who would have thought it? Did anyone else catch it or was I the only one?
No others had to see it. The funny thing is there is this scene in SOF where a speaker makes a 'mistake'. A room full of people mistake uttered except only one person found it noteworthy.
Hey I'm like one of Crichton's characters/ Which one is it? The Global warming researcher or imbecile.
Read the book if you haven't already. It is a fast read and despite its flaws an interesting read.
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